The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has launched a campaign to improve the level of justice that those suffering from bereavement have access to.
This comes after it was revealed in a report, commissioned by APIL, that people in England and Wales received less compensation than those living in Scotland.
Currently the level of bereavement damages in England and Wales is £12,980 on average, a figure that is deemed too low by many people who have been down the route of claiming for bereavement damages.
Concerns were not only raised about the level of compensation that can be claimed but also for the restrictions on who can receive bereavement damages, which also differs than the current system in Scotland.
As things stand in England and Wales it is only the spouse, civil partner or parents of a deceased child under the age 18 years of age, who are allowed to claim for bereavement damages. Yet in Scotland this is decided by the judge and dependent on the victim’s circumstances.
Talking about the current system for bereavement damages in England and Wales, APIL executive committee member Brian Dawson, said: “Out of the people asked, well over 50% said that they felt that the figure of just under £13,000, which is what people presently get in this country, is unsatisfactory.
“I must admit personally I get embarrassed when I’m helping people who have suffered a bereavement, again somebody has died and we’re saying ‘oh by the way bereavement damages in this country are £12,800 or thereabouts’.
“We (APIL) think that that should be addressed and that the figure should be increased, perhaps more in line with the Scottish system, which is where the compensation is decided by the judge.
“We also think that the spectrum of people who can claim this should be widened. At the moment if your married or if your child under 18 dies then you can get bereavement damages, or if you have a civil partnership.
“But we don’t see why adult children or co-habitees shouldn’t be involved and they should be able to recover compensation. We don’t see that their loss is any less.”
Presenting the arguments that have arisen from their report, APIL are now set to make their case to the government in a bid to try and move away from, what they call, a ‘postcode lottery’ in terms of the way the bereavement damages system is currently working across the UK.
APIL’s full report can be read here.