Association of Personal Injury Lawyers
A not-for-profit organisation representing injured people

Grieving relatives cruelly ignored by justice system

27 Apr 2018
APIL news

Unmarried partners, stepchildren and step-parents, brothers, sisters, grandparents, and single dads are all victims of a “cruel oversight” in the law for bereaved families, a leading lawyer has said ahead of Workers’ Memorial Day this weekend (28 April).

59 workers* lost their lives at work in Greater London between 2012 and 2017, latest figures show. Incidents included workers being struck by objects and moving vehicles, coming into contact with machinery, and falling from height.

“When someone is killed at work through negligence, the loved ones they leave behind can make a legal claim for a fixed sum of £12,980 to compensate for their loss. But only if they are a spouse or civil partner, or the parents of unmarried children under the age of 18. Even then, only mothers are eligible if parents were not married when their children were born,” explained Brett Dixon, president of APIL - a national not-for-profit group for injured people and bereaved families.

“Heartbroken relatives are cruelly overlooked by the law in England. It is not fit for purpose in a modern, civilised society.

“Losing a step-parent can leave a cavernous hole in someone’s life. And long-term partners are just as bereft as they would be if they had been married,” said Mr Dixon.

APIL says the answer lies in Scotland, where the amount of compensation granted relies on a full examination of the closeness of the bereaved to the deceased, to ensure that any payments are fair and go to the correct person.

“Today is time to remember the dead and fight for the living,” said Mr Dixon. “There is a deep personal cost to the people left behind. Remember that negligence does not discriminate. Any one of us could be affected in the hardest way”.


* Source: Health and Safety Executive (HSE) A further breakdown by local authority area is available. Contact the APIL press office on the details below

Notes to editors:

  • APIL (Association of Personal Injury Lawyers) is a not-for-profit organisation whose members are dedicated to campaigning for improvements in the law to help people who are injured or become ill through no fault of their own.
  • For more information contact APIL's communications manager Jane Hartwell on t: 0115 943 5416, e:, or press and communications officer Lizzy Freeman t: 0115 943 5431, e:
  • Visit the association's website at
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