Whilst no amount of money can ever replace a loved one, APIL believes bereavement damages are an important aid to the recovery of those bereaved. This is not about replacing what is lost; it is about leaving a legacy - looking after those left behind. Those family members who have suffered anguish and grief through a fatal injury or disease of a child, parent or spouse, deserve from compensation.
Those grieving may not wish to think about claiming compensation at the time, but may regret it in the future. Compensation can add to a widow’s pension to provide a decent standard of living, it can help families stay out of debt, and it gives people left behind a future in which they can move forward.
We are concerned however, that the current level of bereavement damages is too low, and that the pool of those who can claim bereavement damages is too narrow. We will be campaigning for bereavement damages to be increased. In Scotland, compensation levels are higher than in England and Wales – why is the death of a relative so undervalued?
It is not just us who think this - as long ago as 1999 the Law Commission recommended an increase both in the amount of bereavement damages and to those who could benefit. The Government failed fully to implement these recommendations.
No parent ever expects to lose a child. The heartbreak can be overwhelming, as can the impact of the grief on daily life. And yet, if your child has turned 18 you are not entitled to a penny in compensation. No-one stops loving their child at 18. Many still live at home. This is inequitable.
In Scotland, a wider pool of relatives is compensated as it is rightly recognised that the suffering from an untimely death is not confined to the spouse or the dependent. Why not in the rest of the UK?
Losing someone you really care about can have a huge impact on your life, particularly when that loss is untimely, whether it be through a road traffic accident, a hospital operation going wrong, or a workplace disease. Bereavement damages can offer support in a very difficult time. Let’s give people the support they need.