A survey conducted by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has revealed that of 2000 people, 80% think that the Scottish system for bereavement damages is fairer than in England and Wales, leading to calls for the system to be reviewed.
The research revealed that in the cases of both lump sums awarded and the range of people who claim for damages as part of a fatal injury claim, Scotland comes out on top in terms of fairness, a fact that the president of APIL Matthew Stockwell is calling to be looked into.
He said: “For years we have been calling for the law to be changed in this area and this new survey has shown just how far out of step with public opinion the system for awarding bereavement damages really is.
“Everyone knows, of course, that nothing can ever replace a loved one who has died. But it’s important to remember that we are talking here about bereavement caused by the negligence of another party. The fact that the death is needless can only increase the sense of pain and loss.
“At the moment in England and Wales, this is recognised by payment of a fixed sum of £12,980, paid by those who have caused death in Scotland, cases are taken on their merits, damages and generally higher, and the law is much more flexible about who can receive them.”
It is not just APIL themselves who are feel that the amount awarded to claimants in the instance of a fatal injury claim is not enough, with over 57% if those people who participated in the survey claiming that a figure of at least £100,000 would be more appropriate.
There was also criticism of the limitations of the system in England in Wales which currently only allows for the spouse or civil partner, parents of an unmarried legitimate minor and the mother of an unmarried illegitimate minor to claim for bereavement damages.
In Scotland there isn’t such limitations and the list of people who can claim bereavement damages is extended to parents of the child regardless of age, children of the deceased regardless of age, the co-habitee of the person killed and the fiancé of the person killed, something that APIL believes should be extended in the other areas of the UK.
Mr Stockwell said: “It is particularly distasteful to me that parents of a child under the age of 18 should be entitled to bereavement damages but, once the child is 18, they are not. It is unnatural for a parent to suffer the loss of a child, and that loss is no less if the child happens to be over the age of 18.”
He summarised the differences between the north and south in terms of the handling of bereavement damages by comparing it to a postcode lottery and demanded that this now needed to change for the better.
1. International Scotland; http://internationalscotland.com/2015/04/scotland-is-rich-very-rich/