Compensation lottery for bereaved families

29 Apr 2019

The Northern Ireland Department of Justice has announced that it will increase the amount of statutory bereavement damages from £14,200 to £15,100 on 1 May 2019.

The level of bereavement damages in England and Wales has remained at £12,980 for six years. John Hall, Head of Personal Injury at Trethowans and the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (Apil) Southern Group Secretary, warns that justice for families of people killed by negligence in England and Wales trails behind the rest of the UK.

“Some relatives can make a legal claim for a fixed statutory payment of bereavement damages, which is supposed to make amends for the fact that their loved ones should still be alive. This is a common claim in many of the asbestos cases that I run. Since the last time the level of bereavement damages was increased in England and Wales, Northern Ireland has reviewed and increased it twice. In Scotland, sums are calculated on a case-by-case basis, which is much fairer” John said: “Whilst the increase in Northern Ireland bereavement damages is welcome, the whole system needs an overhaul to bring it up to date. We must put an end to this compensation lottery for bereaved families”.

Apil commissioned consumer research in 2013 to discover public attitudes to bereavement damages. Of the 2,000 people surveyed, more than half thought bereavement damages should be more than £100,000; nearly three-quarters thought bereavement damages should be awarded on a case by case basis and, when told the level of damages available for a seriously injured thumb (between £14,000 and £25,000 at the time of the survey) almost three-quarters of respondents thought damages for the grief and trauma associated with a bereavement should be higher.

John Hall is a specialist personal injury and asbestos solicitor, with years of experience helping clients get the best possible compensation for their claims. If you are looking for expert legal advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch.