Personal Injury, Serious Injury & Clinical Negligence

Private Members Bill Seeks Reform of Damages for Bereavement and Psychiatric Injury

A Private Members Bill to be laid before parliament by Middlesbrough MP Andy MacDonald and supported by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) seeks to create greater flexibility and fairness in the Courts’ quantification of damages for bereavement and psychiatric injury in the English and Welsh Courts.

The law in England and Wales relating to damages for bereavement has long since been considered arbitrary and inflexible by members of the profession. In stark contrast to claims North of the border, those seeking bereavement damages in the English and Welsh Courts must fall within a very narrow bracket of entitled individuals, including parents of deceased children under the age of 18 and spouses.

In contrast, Claimants in Scotland enjoy far greater flexibility, both in terms of who can claim bereavement damages, and also in terms of the damages awarded. The Courts in England and Wales are bound by Statute to a fixed award of £12,980.

Explaining the reason for bringing the Bill, Mr MacDonald said:-

Some aspects of the law affecting people who have been injured or bereaved through no fault of their own are out of date and unjust, and my Bill aims to address this.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 that is what my Bill aims to do. It is about justice and making the law fit for purpose.

Mr MacDonald’s Bill also seeks to address perceived injustice in the way Claimants are dealt with when they suffer psychological illness following the negligent death of a loved one. As the law stands, so called “secondary victims” must be able to demonstrate “a close tie of love and affection” in order to be able to claim, the definition of which appears arbitrary to many. For example, brothers and sisters are not considered by the law to have a sufficiently close relationship to be eligible.

In support of Mr MacDonald’s Bill, Jonathan Wheeler of APIL said:-

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 in fairness and understanding by the justice system.

Our solicitors have many years of experience in dealing with fatal accident claims for the bereaved, as well as claims for psychological injury. Call us on 0345 209 1655.