FAQs: Bereavement damages


What are bereavement damages?

Bereavement damages are one of the awards which can be sought by the family of a deceased person. However, not every death will give rise to the right to claim for bereavement damages, for this, the death must have been caused by the negligence of another party. There are two main statutes which deal with this area of law, the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 and the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934.

Who can claim bereavement damages?

Bereavement awards under the Acts are limited to close family relations such as the deceased’s partner or spouse or the deceased’s parents where the deceased is a child. Controversially the deceased’s children do not qualify for this award.  They will either have to get the estate to make a claim or apply for a dependency award themselves; by showing they were financially linked and reliant to some degree on the deceased. 

What is a dependency award?

The dependency award is designed to compensate those who were financially linked to the deceased. There are a number of types of loss which the courts will take into account when making such an award:
  • Loss of earnings – from current or prospective employment
  • Loss caused by the formalities of death – funeral expenses etc
  • Loss of associated fringe benefits – such as joint dental care or a company car
  • Loss of promised gifts

How much could I get for a bereavement award?

The bereavement award has a set statutory amount of £11,800 which you will be awarded if you qualify for it. You won’t be entitled to anything above this level even if you can show your losses far exceed this amount. 

Are there any planned changes to the bereavement award?

Yes, the Lord Chancellor has indicated that the bereavement award will be increased by 10% to £12,980. However, this is not expected to come into force until April 2013 when other measures under the Aid, Sentencing and Punishment of Offenders Bill are enacted. This however will still leave the award well short of the level in Scotland where the limit is £30,000.
If you would like to obtain legal advice on bereavement damages, Caven can put you in touch with a local specialist solicitor free of charge. So, if you have any questions or would like our help in finding local solicitors please call us on 08001 221 2299 or complete the web-form above.
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