Lawford Kidd, Personal Injury Solicitors

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England to Follow Scotland by Introducing ‘Fairer’ Bereavement Damages

An all-new Private Members’ Bill – namely The Negligence and Damages Bill - published by Middlesbrough MP Andy McDonald, is calling England & Wales to follow Scotland by introducing ‘greater fairness’ for bereaved people and victims of psychiatric harm.

It passed, the Bill will extend firstly, the statutory list of relationships in which there is a close tie of love and affection and secondly, the list of family members who should be eligible for bereavement damages. New additions will include civil partners and children over the age of 18.

Should it become law, the Bill also change the way in which people who sure psychological illness following the death or serious injury of a loved one, are treated.

The Bill is very much supported by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).

Commenting, Mr McDonald, stated:

“Some aspects of the law affecting people who have been injured or bereaved through no fault of their own are out of date and unjust, and my Bill aims to address this...”

“The law in England and Wales treats bereaved families like second class citizens. Most people agree that there is a fairer and more sensible way to do things, and this is what my Bill aims to do. It’s about justice and making the law fit for purpose.”

McDonald added: “People can suffer serious, debilitating mental illness after the death or injury of a loved one and yet the law still makes them jump through very high hoops to obtain any kind of redress...”

The Bill is very much supported by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).

Commenting on behalf of his organsation, APIL’s President, Jonathan Wheeler, commented:
“In England and Wales the laws which are supposed to help both bereaved families and people suffering from psychiatric harm are woefully inflexible...

“The relatives of people who are killed wrongfully, at work for example, can make a claim for statutory bereavement damages of just £12,980. Such a low sum means that in England and Wales it is actually cheaper to kill someone than it is to maim them. Also, only spouses and parents of children under 18 years-old are eligible to receive bereavement damages. In reality, the tragic loss of a child does not diminish once the child has passed his or her 18th birthday.

“In Scotland the system is much fairer as each case is judged on its own merits. Bereavement damages in the UK are a lottery based on where the death happens....

“People whose loved ones are wrongfully killed or injured and who then go on to suffer psychiatric damage as a result cannot claim compensation unless they have what is deemed to be ‘a close tie of love and affection’ to the person harmed or killed in the event. For example, brothers and sisters aren’t assumed to have a close enough relationship, which is, frankly, ridiculous...

“People claiming compensation simply want to put their lives back on track...

“These events should never happen in the first place. But when they do happen they should be treated with fairness and understanding by the justice system.”

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