Category Archives: Asbestos Compensation

Mesothelioma Compensation After Death

Asbestos-Related Mesothelioma, Lung Cancer & Asbestosis Claims

Welcome to our 2020 guide for victims of mesothelioma after death and other asbestos-related conditions. We will support those who have lost a loved one following asbestos exposure at work.

Mesothelioma compensation after death often arises when dealing with this asbestos-related claims. Death is caused in the is a form of asbestos-related lung cancer that is related to the inhalation of asbestos fibres, which once diagnosed, will often result in death in just a few months. Usually a compensation claim is made on behalf of the deceased’s family members by solicitors acting on their behalf through the courts.

How to Claim Mesothelioma Compensation

At R James Hutcheon Solicitors we have over 30 years experience in dealing with asbestos related compensation claims and have produced a video of the 5 most common questions asked about mesothelioma.  It is worth a view.

 

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The three main causes of death for an asbestos-related condition due to work in the United Kingdom are:

  • Mesothelioma
  • Asbestos Related Lung Cancer
  • Asbestosis

The majority of mesothelioma cases affect the lungs. In cases of asbestos-related lung cancer, the fibres from asbestos become lodged in the lung tissue causing irritation and scarring over time. This irritation and scarring can then also develop into tumours. But in the case of malignant mesothelioma, the asbestos fibres scar and lead to tumours in the lining of the lungs (the mesothelium).

Research according to the Health and Safety Government Website concerning asbestos related deaths there were about 2,500 deaths resulting from asbestos-related mesothelioma in 2015. Such deaths are recorded as the inhalation of asbestos fibres that can cause cancer such as mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis and pleural thickening.

The statistics may however be more complex than that suggested when considering lung cancer in particular were exposure to asbestos and smoking collaborate significantly to increase the risk of lung cancer. This then translates into the fact that a lot of cases of lung cancer will result from both smoking and asbestos exposure, rather than by one of these factors.

Mesothelioma Asbestos Compensation Amounts After Death

The courts in the UK consider various factors before deciding on the compensation claim payout for an asbestos-related disease. The following actors are will be considered. It must be remembered that every case will be decided on its own particular facts.

  • The type of asbestos-related disease – mesothelioma, lung cancer, asbestosis?
  • The age of the deceased (or living victim). The younger the person the greater the compensation.
  • The length of suffering – the longer the pain and suffering the court will award more damages. In many studies of workers exposed to asbestos, asbestos-fibre inhalation is currently proven to lead to an increased risk of lung cancer. In general therefore, longer exposure to asbestos puts an individual at higher risk of developing lung cancer. Most medical cases of asbestos-related lung disease in workers occurs at least after 15 years of first asbestos exposure.
  • The courts will take in to account the level of smoking the victim had consumed if lung cancer is diagnosed where there has been exposure to asbestos at work.
  • The average life expectancy for a mesothelioma victim is just 12 -21 months, but some may survive by up to 5 years.

Mesothelioma Compensation for Asbestos-Related Disease

As a general guide, the courts will award the compensation to the worker according to the severity of the disease.  The greater the suffering the more compensation will be awarded.  Most compensation is awarded to the severe forms of the disease such as mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis.  Mesothelioma once diagnosed is a death sentence often within months.  Asbestos related lung cancer and asbestosis often take a longer period before it if fatal.  All  asbestos claims including fatal compensation claims are handled by only our experienced GRADE A Solicitors with a minimum of 15 years experience in disease and asbestos related compensation payout claims.
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Compensation Payouts for Asbestos Claims After Death in the UK

  • Mesothelioma – Serious disability leading to premature death: up to £105,000 (Please note that some asbestos related lung cancers and asbestosis may also be awarded compensation at this level)
  • Lung Cancer – Usually older person and fatal, symptoms not generally as painful as mesothelioma: up to £86,000
  • Asbestosis (pleural thickening of the lungs) – Disability, shortness of breath, prolonged coughing, sleep disturbance, restriction of mobility. The top level award will be for victims where the disease is progressive, showing a significant impact on quality of life: up to £95,000
  • Asbestosis and Pleural Thickening – Where breathlessness, frequent use of inhaler, unable to tolerate smokey environment: up to £35,000

The above figures are for general guidance. In addition to the above asbestos compensation claims payouts there other heads of damages that expert asbestos solicitor can claim on behalf of the victim and their family.

Real Payout Examples by the Courts

Below are a selection of real compensation payouts for asbestos claims after death as decided by UK Courts.

McCarn v Secretary of State 2014 [Scottish Case]

Under the Damages (Scotland) Act 2011 s 4(3)(b) close family members of the deceased can claim compensation. In this case the father of the five adult children who were making a claim received £35,000 each for the death of their father who died from mesothelioma caused by exposure to asbestos whilst working for a Ship Building Company.  The damages awarded reflected the fact that their mother had died of cancer earlier and as a result were all particularly close to their father, who as a very fit man before the disease too over.  There is no similar law to compensate victims in England and Wales for bereavement compensation under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976.

Knauer v Ministry of Justice [2014] £642.972.51 (46 years old)

The deceased was only 46 years old when she died of mesothelioma.  She was employed as an administrator at a Dorset. The prison included many old buildings to she was required to go in the course of her job. Many of these buildings contained asbestos which resulted in her untimely death.

The general guidance for asbestos related compensation (see above) at the time the Court was deciding on the amount to be awarded was between £51,500 and £92,500.

In determining the amount, the court reflected on the pain and suffering she had to endure before death. Mesothelioma causing both severe pain and impairment of both function and quality of life. This may be of the pleura (the lung lining) or of the peritoneum (the lining of the abdominal cavity); the latter being typically more painful. There are a large number of factors which will affect the level of award within the bracket. These include but are not limited to duration of pain and suffering, extent and effects of invasive investigations, extent and effects of radical surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy, whether the mesothelioma is peritoneal or pleural, the extent to which the tumour has spread to encase the lungs and where other organs become involved causing additional pain and/or breathlessness, the level of the symptoms, domestic circumstances, age, level of activity and previous state of health.”

Asbestos compensation after death awarded was £80,000 (for the injury, pain and suffering only). The full award after death for the asbestos claim was £642,972.51, this award was mainly for the family of the deceased under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976.

Zambarda v Shipbreaking (Queenborough) Ltd. Total Award: £98,723 (75 years)

In this case a very experienced judge decided in 2013, that the pain and suffering of a male worker due to mesothelioma was valued at £75,500 for the suffering he went through before death. He suffered slightly longer in duration compared to Kauer above, (seven months from first symptoms,six months from diagnosis), but he was a lot older, 70 when he died.

The compensation payment was broken down as follows:

  • Past care and assistance £4,406
  • Past case management £3,674
  • Inability to provide services to others £3,656
  • Miscellaneous expenses £750
  • Bereavement damages £11,907
  • Funeral expenses £3,801
  • Loss of dependency on Income (past and future) £70,529
  • Overall total compensation payment: £98,723

Wolff v John Moulds (Kilmarnock) Ltd 2012 – £104,500

In this case it is reported that the deceased died from mesothelioma aged 67 in 2007. The awards made by the Judge in 2011 under section 1(4) of the 1976 Act were as follows:

  • £50,000 to the widow;
  • £15,000 to each of two adult daughters who lived away from home but had regular contact with the deceased;
  • £18,000 to the youngest daughter aged 32 who lived at home and had relied on the deceased to a much greater extent than her siblings; and
  • £6,500 to the granddaughter, on the basis that the bond between a grandchild and grandparent was less strong than the bond between child and parent.

McGregor v Genco (FC) Ltd [2014] £135,000

A case decided in the Manchester County Court.  The asbestos victim was diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma of the pleura. A claim was brought against her former employer for damages for personal injury, alleging that she had contracted the illness due to asbestos exposure during her the course of employment.

The claimant’s was aged 58, developed she malignant mesothelioma of the pleura. She began suffering with symptoms of mesothelioma in May 2012 with shortness of breath and lethargy and was diagnosed in August. The prognosis was poor.

Total award for the asbestos compensation after death: £135,000

International Energy Group Ltd v Zurich Insurance plc UK Branch £250,000

A case that involved death due to exposure to asbestos causing mesothelioma where the employee inhaled asbestos fibers in course of employment over many years.

The employee retired in April 2008, but he did not enjoy a long retirement.  In the same year, July 2008 he was diagnosed as suffering from mesothelioma and he died within about a year from diagnosis.

Before he died his solicitor took legal action for compensation for his asbestos-related condition. he claimed his illness was caused by its negligence and breach of statutory duty in exposing him to asbestos dust and fibres.

The claim was settled for £250,000 plus solicitors legal costs.

Passmore v Evan Cook Ltd 2012 – (£192,437)

The employee contracted mesothelioma, due to exposure to asbestos at work. He was diagnosed in February 2011 by the presence of a large right pleural effusion and pleural plaques, from exposure to asbestos during his employment. He had a life expectancy of six months, with a likely range of three to nine months, from September 2012.

The employee claimed damages for mesothelioma, which he alleged was caused by negligent exposure to asbestos in the course of his employment by the defendant. Between 1961/1962 and 1981, the claimant was employed and responsible for the supervision of the packing, removal and installation of industrial plant and equipment. In 2011, the claimant was diagnosed with mesothelioma.

The claimant’s evidence was that while employed by the defendant, he had been exposed to asbestos dust from the dismantling of pipework from factory equipment.

At court his health had deteriorated and towards the end of the one hour questioning he required morphine as pain control. From time to time he lost concentration. Under cross-examination, some of the claimant’s answers to questions suggested that exposure to asbestos during the relevant period of time could not be demonstrated.

Whilst the defendant submitted to the court that his evidence was unreliable, the Judge dismissed the claims and found in, fact, he was a reliable witness and established to the satisfaction of the court relevant exposure levels and working environment to prove a case. He was truthful and a careful witness and therefore liability was proven against his employers.

Asbestos compensation after death was agreed between the solicitors at £168,000.

Eric Ward, the Widower and Executor of the Estate of Valerie Ward v RWE Npower PLC and Associated Electrical Industries Ltd [2012] £113,000 (80 years old)

The Deceased first experienced symptoms in July 2007 he sadly died in April 2011, shortly after being diagnosed in March 2011. The Deceased contracted mesothelioma as a result of ‘secondary’ exposure. The Deceased washed her husband and son’s overalls, which were covered in asbestos dust and fibres because of their work at the Aberthaw Power Station. Proceedings were issued and the matter settled.

The case was ‘Fast Tracked’ due to her condition under the mesothelioma scheme.  Her family were awarded compensation in the sum of £113,000.

Baker v Tate & Lyle PLC [2012] –  £205,000

The Employee’s symptoms began in January 2011. At the time of the Trial, he was dying of mesothelioma as a result of exposure to asbestos with a life expectancy of 2 to 6 months. He was 65 years old at the time when at court. He was only in his teenage working years when he was exposed to the deadly dust fibers.

The judge found that under Regulation 1 of the Asbestos Industry Regulations 1931 and section 29 (1) of the Factories Act 1961 imposed a duty upon the Defendant as occupier.  The Defendant company did not come up with any evidence to suggest they supplied their employee with effective breathing apparatus and effective mechanical ventilation, so as not to expose the Claimant to asbestos.

As the Defendant failed to provide this evidence, Judgment was entered and the case settled in the sum of £205,000, with £80,000 allowed for general damages (that is for the asbestos related condition alone, pain and suffering).  The additional about of £125,000 was paid in accordance with the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, for the dependents of the deceased.

Ball v Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change [2012] £73,980/ £58,920.38 (pain and suffering)

Malignant mesothelioma of the pleura was diagnosed.

The employee was alive when the case came to court. Often quite unusual for a mesothelioma case, as often the victim of asbestos exposure has sadly died.

Between 1967 and 1985 the claimant was exposed to asbestos dust in the course of his employment with the National Coal Board. He started to experience chest symptoms in January 2011. His condition deteriorated and he was diagnosed as suffering from a malignant mesothelioma in March 2011.

In September 2011 the claimant’s estimated life expectancy as a result of the malignant mesothelioma was between one to five months.
Facts

In April 2011 a left thoracoscopy was performed to remove the pleural effusion and to relieve the claimant’s breathlessness.

The prognosis was for inevitable deterioration probably with worsening pain, increasing breathlessness, loss of appetite and weight and progressive debility.

It was likely the claimant would become completely incapacitated and in need of constant nursing care towards the end of his life.

Had it not been for the mesothelioma his life expectancy would have been 2.9 years.

Damages for pain suffering and loss of amenity were awarded at £50,000.

Here the Court awarded damages for lost years were agreed at £19,376 and care and miscellaneous expenses were agreed at a further £4,179.16.
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Research into Asbestos Fibres Causing Mesothelioma

Cancer Research UK on Mesothelioma have provided some information on the asbestos mineral likely to cause this condition:

Erionite

A mineral similar to asbestos, as a cause of mesothelioma. Evidence comes almost exclusively from one region in Turkey, where erionite is used as a building material, and mesothelioma rates are extremely high.  Because erionite occurs elsewhere in the world (notably parts of the US) without similarly high mesothelioma rates, it has been argued that the situation in Turkey indicates genetic susceptibility to erionite-associated mesothelioma in this population[3], however evidence for this is weak.

Mineral Wool and Silica

Occupational exposure to asbestos and other fibres or particles could modify the carcinogenicity of asbestos with regard to pleural mesothelioma (NCBI)

The most common types of asbestos fibres are:

  • Chrysotile (white asbestos)
  • Amosite (brown asbestos)
  • Crocidolite (blue asbestos)

Compensation for Mesothelioma and Asbestos Claims After Death

Compensation payouts for death following the inhalation of asbestos dust at work is very much after the event symptoms of the disease has a very long latent period, often over 30 years from first being exposed to the deadly dust.

Often, most asbestos victim suffers who seek legal advice are in their 60’s and 70’s.  They are concerned for their loved ones as they are usually a carer for their partner who need support.

No amount of compensation will ever replace the tragic loss, but it will provide some financial support, help pay for bills and expenses and even care for loved ones left behind.

There will also be a sense of justice that someone has paid for the hurt, pain and suffering that has been endured before death.

As specialist asbestos claims after death solicitors, we will consider all claims for mesothelioma compensation after death sympathetically and expertly. In fact, all asbestos-related claims will be considered.

Please contact us now to discuss a possible claim but remember there is a limited period to make a claim which is three years from the date of death or within three years from when the worker who was exposed to the dust knew that it was related to his/her work place.

Further Reading Mesothelioma After Death For Families

We have several more articles on mesothelioma to help you and your family to consider choosing the right solicitor to help you through this difficult time.  You must not delay however, as this could be a bar to making a claim and be in no doubt that despite the hardship and pain you and your family are enduring the employers insurers and legal advisers will take the matter to court to decide if there was a delay in taking court action.

Asbestos Claims Guide 2020

20 Questions About Mesothelioma Compensation For Families

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Fight for Dignified Death

Whilst we are experts in fatal accident claims there are moments when the law affect other aspects of our lives. The right to die, has been brought into the court once again when a campaigner who is terminally ill requires the court to determined when he can die with ‘dignity’ rather than being ‘entombed’ by his illness.

The High Court will determine the fate of Noel Conway, 67 years of age, a retired lecturer who is suffering from the debilitating motor neuron disease.

It is reported that he has less than one year to live and Mr Conway would like to control his end of life wishes.  When he has less than 6 months to live and has mental capacity to make the decision, he wishes to bring about a ‘peaceful’ death with professional help from doctors.

No medical professional can intentionally accelerate death otherwise, under the Suicide Act 1961, a doctor (or family member/friend) may face up to 14 years imprisonment.

Fatal Accident Claims

Mr Conway requires a declaration that the Suicide Act is incompatible with the Article 8 of the European Convention of Human Rights which relates to respect for private and family life and Article 14, which protects against discrimination.

However the right to die has to be balanced the possibility of family members putting pressure on the patient to end their life.  It is a difficult case.  The Justice Secretary is opposing the case and the trial continues.

Why Did The Courts Got It Wrong Over Many Years? (Part 3)

Why Did The Courts Got It Wrong Over Many Years?

The Ogden Tables were used to compensate future awards of compensation for fatal accident dependents and victims of life changing injuries.  The Ogden Tables use what are called ‘multipliers’ that is a calculation to apply a fixed lump sum award the claimant would received today and ‘discount’ the compensation lump sum due to the fact that the claimant would get the money now rather than piece meal over what can be many years into the future.

In fatal accident claims, however, the Courts in the 1970’s (see case of Cookson v Knowles [1979] in particular where Lord Fraser stated:

‘In a personal injury case, if the injured person has survived until the date of trial, that is a known fact…But in a fatal accident case, the multiplier must be selected once and for all as at the date of death because everything that might have happened to the deceased after that date remains uncertain…’

Thus to calculate the future compensation for dependants from the date of death rather than the date of trial (which happens as a matter of routine in life changing injury claims) has the effect of under-compensating the dependants of the deceased.  Why?  This is because the Odgen Tables used to calculate the future awards were designed to calculate the ‘multiplier’ from the date of trial not the date of death.

So if there is a long delay between the date of death and date of trial or settlement this will lead to injustice and under-compensation to the dependents.  This has been a known fact for many years but the Courts have done nothing about it until the decision in Knauer v MOJ 2016.  The mis-use by the Courts of the Ogden Tables was considered in White v ESAB Group (UK) Ltd [2012] and Aths v Ms [2002] EWCA Civ 972 and criticised in Corbett v Braking HA [1991].

Just one good fatal accident decision in many years has taken place where the Supreme Court in the case of Knauer v MOJ 2016 decided to change the law so that the multiplier must run from the date of trial, not the date of death.  This can add thousands of pounds for bereaved families who have been under-compensated and let down the the Government and the Judiciary.

[Author Ronnie Hutcheon – Principal Solicitor in the Firm of R James Hutcheon Solicitors]

But the Courts thought they were bound by the past judgement and thus the law could not be changed without the Government changing the law.

Even the Law Commission Report entitled Claims for Wrongful Death suggested to the Government that the law should be changed (among other issues) so that compensation for fatal accident claims for future awards should be used the same way as lift changing injury claim, that is The Ogden Tables for future awards for compensation should be from the date of trial not the date of death.

Fatal Injury Law Commission Report – [Click to View]

Common sense has played a part here with practical know how of the change in times but lest not forget the injustice to victims in the past whose fatal accident claims have been vastly under compensated by the slow changing pace of the Judiciary and the constant strength and lobbing of Government by insurance companies who  continue to influence the Government.  The losers are the victims.  Help us change the law and sign our Government E-Petition on bereavement awards.

Further reading

Fatal Accident Compensation – Calculate Future Awards (Part 1)

Fatal Accident Compensation – Calculate Future Awards (Part 2)

Fatal Accident Compensation – Calculate Future Awards (Part 3)

There are time limits that apply to make a fatal accident claim so please do not leave it late. If you are reading this website to help a family member or friend who has not yet obtain advice you can contact us to discuss options.  Whatever the circumstances, contact us.

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Fatal Accident Compensation – Calculate Future Awards (Part 2)

In Part 1 fatal accident solicitors considered the general complex issues of how calculating future awards for lump sum compensation for a fatal accident or fatal disease can be complex.  Needless to say, once again, as fatal accident solicitors specialising in this area in addition to serious life changing injury claims, the future calculation for compensation leaves the victims, in our view under compensated.

Why?  It is all down to how the large discount is applied to future lump sum compensation awards for a fatal accident or serious life changing injuries.  The discount applied applies on the award of the compensation so as not to ‘over compensate’ the dependents or victim of a life changing injury claim.  Thus to use an similar example, if the dependents or personal injury victim sustaining serious injury claim is valued at say £100,000 over a period of 10 years, if that amount was put into stocks and shares over a period of 10 years, there is a chance that the investment will grow over time and thus the net value would be more than the £100,000.  This is unfair and has been attacked as the returns may not be significant or at all as there is a chance there could be heavy losses.

‘Victims and families whose loved one have been killed in a fatal accident or sustained a serious life changing injury have been under compensated for years…’ 

[Author Ronnie Hutcheon, Principal Solicitor of R James Hutcheon Solicitors]

Fatal Injury Bereavement Award

Thus the dependents compensation for a fatal accident or the victim of a serious life changing injury claim are being under-compensated and have been over many years.  Further the Conservative Government has also since April 2013 not only reduced solicitor costs if they win a compensation claim for fatal accident or injury but now solicitors are forced to take up to 25% of the victim’s compensation award.  Thus to say that the aim of compensation is to put the claimant victim in the same financial position but for the death or accident is a misnomer.

Uee of the Ogden Table To Compensate Fatal Accident Claimants

The Ogden Tables are used by fatal accident solicitor and personal injury solicitor who specialise in life changing injuries where the future awards of compensation have to be considered.  Here we will discuss only fatal accident compensation claims due to the recent important case of Knauer v MOJ by the Supreme Court in 2016 increased compenstion following the unalwful killing of a person in an accident by just using the Ogden Tables in the way they were intended.  Had the Courts used the Tables correctly it would have stopped thousands of bereaved families whose fatal accident compensation claims were settled by their Solicitor or the Courts over many years.

Fatal Injury & Funeral Expenses

In this fatal injury claim, (under The Fatal Accidents Act 1976) where funeral expenses (amongst other losses) were considered following the death at work due to exposure to asbestos dust, the employee unfortunately contracting the disease ‘malignant mesothelioma.’

The High Court in London in the case of Mosson considered the arguments by both the claimant and defendant solicitors on what funeral expenses can be recovered following a fatal injury and in this case a death caused at work.

Fatal Accidents Claims - The Law

Cost of Probate

Probate is the legal procedure required to prove who is the person(s) responsible for formally dealing with the affairs of the deceased.  Usually, in practice this is the deceased next of kin, i.e. wife, husband, parter, etc.  If the deceased leaves a will, the person responsible will be named in the will, again this is usually the next of kin.  If no will has been made, the rules of ‘intestacy’ apply, and again it is the ‘next of kin.’

When the person responsible for the deceased affairs has been established the fatal injury solicitor will then send the relevant forms to the Probate Court to obtain the official court approval for that responsible person to instruct the fatal accident solicitors and deal with all the financial affairs of the deceased including make a claim.   There will be a cost involved in obtaining probate and a court fee – called Probate fees.

In the Mosson case probate fees where considered and argued by solicitors in court to establish if the Widow can recover these costs against the insurance company or if she out of her late husband’s estate had to pay them.  Now most people will say it is only fair that the company that killed her husband at work should pay these costs but insurance companies don’t want to pay out any compensation if they can get away with it, notwithstanding the tragic death and suffering all the family had to ensure.

Here the Judge in the case said that the probate fees are NOT RECOVERABLE because no such provision was catered for in the 1934 Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act that concerned items that can be recovered following a fatal accident.

Funeral Clothing, Wake & Memorial Bench

Here following an earlier decision in the cases of Knauer v Ministry of Justice [2014] EWHC 2553 (QB) and Gammell v Wilson [1982] AC 27.  The Court’s decision are on the basis that all funeral expenses had to be ‘reasonable in all the circumstances’ and thus not ‘reasonable’ to purchase a memorial bench or for one off clothing for a funeral.  The latter in particular followed the case of Gammell.  The latter Court case distinguished between funeral clothing purchases and a ‘grave marker’ which we all know it to be a “headstone’ which a reasonable expense under the ‘funeral expenses’ head of claim providing the cost, again meets the reasonable test.

Loss of ‘Love and Affection’ Intangible Services

Over quite recent times in fatal injury claims, solicitors have been arguing that whilst the family can be compensated for the loss of DIY and gardening services that the deceased may have provided to the family and now have to rely upon outside contractors, there is also quite a nominal loss for the inconvenience of the family now having to instruct outside contractors to do the work.

The family will have to make arrangements and work around the contractor whereas if the say, husband or wife provided such services they can undertake the work at their own pace and convenience.

The law calls this head of loss under (not a funeral expense but I have put this here for completeness due to the importance of this claim) ‘loss of intangible benefits.”  The judge had considered this loss and in other cases, a sum of £3,000 was make.

However the judge in this case considered that no such compensation could be paid as this was covered under the ‘bereavement damages award.’

This is once again another ‘hard case’ against bereaved families.  As fatal accident solicitor we wish to change the law on bereavement awards and for more information please see our webpage, bereavement awards – change the law.

Need Advice on Fatal Injury Compensation Claims?

Please contact the fatal injury compensation solicitor for expert advice and assistance in this difficult time for the family left behind.  As can be seen from this short blog, insurance companies will argue over the smallest of items that can be claimed so you need a fatal injury solicitor to help you every step of the way from the compensation and expenses to all the legal requirement.

Insult To Widow – Malignant Mesothelioma only £85,000

In a recent case there were arguments about how painful a man suffered from mesothelioma (a disease where there is no cure – contracted by asbestos exposure).

These unsavoury arguments are a further insult to bereaved families to gain some comfort of compensation to the unlawful killing of a loved one.

No amount of compensation for fatal injury can ever be enough.  We all get it but to make widow come to court to explain the pain and suffering and for then Solicitors and Barristers to argue over what such suffering is worth is unjust.  There must be a better way to stop insurance companies arguing over such trivial amounts of compensation when one considers what the deceased has been though and the suffering from the families.

We tend to live in an age where privacy for celebrities are paramount (in some cases justified) and to award such important celebrities they are often ordered six figure sums to compensate them for “hurt feelings.”  Fatal accident solicitors are not saying that such compensation figures are wrong, but the law is unjust when you compare such money awards to claims involving fatal accidents.

Long Suffering Death Worth £85,000 to Widow

The law is an insult to victims and loved ones left behind when it comes to compensating those who need it most to carry on with their life. We all know money will never be enough following the death of a loved one, but the award by the Court which should reflect what is just and mirror our caring society is barbaric.

In this recent case, the Mr Thomas Mosson died, after a prolonged illness, of malignant mesothelioma contracted during the course of his employment.  Anyone who knows about death following exposure to asbestos dust will understand that it is a very painful and progressive death.  In this case the following was said about the disease and how he suffered:

    1. The chemotherapy was particularly unpleasant causing the deceased nausea, vomiting, fatigue, peripheral neuropathy and tinnitus. His condition steadily declined and he died on 19 January 2014. But for this illness it is said that he would have lived for a further 12 years.

    2. Mr Steinberg, for the claimant, puts the effect of this illness in graphic terms in his skeleton argument. He says:

“This was a devastating illness – Mr Mosson suffered terribly – made exceptional by the unusually long period of suffering (i.e. 26 months).”

See full case Mosson v Spousal (London) Ltd

It is hard to believe in this so called “compensation culture” that Mr Thomas’ widow was only awarded £85,000.  She suffered and her family suffered, seeing this once proud man decay and depreciate before her eyes and suffer beyond imagination.  Just £85,000 how on earth is this justified?

Yes no amount of money can ever compensation, we get it, but to offer this amount is an insult and unjust.  But it is happening every day in England and Wales.  Large insurance companies are strong enough to lobby the Government and have deep pockets to defend and challenge fatal accident claims by some of the best Counsel and Magic Circle Solicitors in the business.

Justice is not on a a level playing field, no equality of arms (if there ever was one). The Government had now introduced fixed fees to Claimant’s solicitors and due to the cost cutting exercise, forcing the Claimant Solicitor to take up to 25% of the Compensation awarded to Widows and other members of the family who have lost a loved one.

So to add more insult to injury to the bereaved families, after winning the case, if settled after the cost cutting Conservative Government*, the Claimant solicitors will then have to bill the Widow and for services rendered:-

Here £84,000 – 25% (Solicitors Fees) = £21,250: 

Widow Receives Only £63,750*

*If the case was brought after April 2013 when the Conservative Government attacked Claimant Solicitors Costs and thus were forced to charged injured clients 25% of their compensation.  Please note by instructing R James Hutcheon Solicitors, our charging fees are currently capped at 12.5% not 25%.

 

Compensation for “Wrongful Death” Increased!

In the Supreme Court (Formerly House of Lords) the UK’s highest Court in the land, has made a landmark decision that means more compensation for the wrongful death of victims who have died due to the fault of another, such as:

  • Death at work
  • Death following a road crash
  • Death following a disease at work such as – asbestos ingestion – mesothelioma
  • Death caused by medical negligence
  • Death due to a disaster, train, plain crash

What has there been a change in the law for fatal accidents?

The Supreme Court Law Lord led by Lord Neuberger, had considered all the arguments from the insurers for the Defendant and the bereaved family regarding the old laws which had governed how dependent families compensation award would be calculated due to the wrongful death of a loved one.

The Judges, after considering at length the awards made to these unfortunate families were of the view the calculations for fatal accident compensation awards were out-dated and needed to be re-considered in today’s more sophisticated times, which are much more different when the rules for compensation were first considered by the Courts.

The panel of judges, headed by Supreme Court president  ruled there was “an overwhelming case for changing the law” relating to the way financial losses of dependents are assessed.

High Court Judgement in 2014

The Supreme Court considered the previous judgement that was successfully appealed which awarded the bereaved family a lump sum award of £647,840 after making a claim for future loss of dependency under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976.  Mrs Knauer, who was a mother of 3 contracted the fatal disease mesothelioma in 2009 when, during the course of her employment with the Ministry of Justice (MOJ) at Guys Marsh Prison,

The fatal accident solicitors said, following the victory at Court:

“In future, multipliers which are used to calculate the compensation amount will be calculated from the date of trial, not the date of death.

” It will mean that all claimants will receive greater sums to compensate for loss of income and services.”

The Change in Calculations for future dependency awards for fatal accidents

This can be a little complicated but in simple terms the following calculations are that the Court must try, if at all possible, to compensate the victims (dependents) of the deceased to the extent that they have suffered “no financial loss.”  Naturally the compensation can never replace the loss of a loved one (but see bereavement award which we consider should also be changed).

What use to happen is that the Courts would find a value per year of what the financial loss would had been but for the accident, say £20,000.  This loss can be the deceased loss of earnings or other income.  It may include loss of a mother’s services, so need not be money alone.

This loss is called the “multiplicand.”

The next stage would be for the Courts to use the multiplicand and then calculate this figure for a future award to provide compensation for the future.  There will be various factors that the court will utilise to come up with a future award.  Thus in a simple example where the husband has died leaving a wife and dependent children, the courts will look at the ages of all concerned and divide the multiplicand between them over a period of years.  Here, for example the children’s dependency may cease when they reach the age of 21 years (now adult children) but the Wife’s (Widow’s) dependency could be life-long or at least until the deceased husband’s earnings would stop i.e. at retirement age.

This loss is called the “multiplier.”

The future compensation award is thus multiplicand x multiplier (number of future years following death)

The important word in the above statement is “death” because that is where the future calculations starts.  However this calculation will be different from the date of trial.  Using the latter date will mean that the compensation figure can be much greater particularly where it takes a long time for the solicitors to bring a case to court.  The Case is to complemented.

Fatal Accidents Act 1976

Fatal Accidents Act 1976

It may be hard to comprehend but it was not until 1846 that the law recognised that close family members could make a claim if a loved one had died due to the negligence of another person.

That the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, is law passed by the Government that is outdated and unfair to the bereaved families and to the Deceased.

It is hard to comprehend that the value of life in England and Wales can be worth absolutely £NOTHING if killed in a road accident or at work.

It’s time the law is changed to stop the injustice.  Please sign our Government online E-Petition to change the law for Bereavement awards and the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 to help innocent victims.

 

 

FATAL ACCIDENTS ACT 1976

Fatal Accidents Act 1976 & Bereavement Award

The Fatal Accidents Act 1846 was passed and over a period of time there are now two main statutes that govern fatal accident claims.

Under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, compensation claim is for the benefit of the dependents of the deceased and those who are entitled to a bereavement award.  Those limited amount of family members that can claim has been extended to include a Civil Partnership of the deceased.  Further the definition of a “wife or husband” has been expanded to include any person (not being a child of the deceased) if that child was treated by the deceased as a child of the family.


 

Fatal road accident

What can be claimed under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976?

There are 3 main heads of claim.

•    Bereavement award currently only £12.980.

•    Dependency claims paid to close family members.

•    Funeral expenses if paid by the dependants.

The Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934

Here the law is for the benefit of the Deceased’s estate.  That is, what the deceased could have claimed had he or she had not unfortunately died.

Did the Deceased Leave A Will?

The deceased’s “estate” is the value of what the Deceased owned at the time of death including taking into account any debts.  As fatal accident solicitors we are often asked who can represent the estate of the deceased?  Usually this is the same person(s) under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976.  The first thing fatal accident solicitors will ask is whether the deceased left a will, if so, then the person(s) named in the Will have authority to look after the affairs of the deceased, that person(s) is/are called the “Executor” (if male) or “Executrix” (if female).  Once this has been established, the fatal accident claim solicitors will then apply to the local Probate Court with the necessary documents including the Will to confirm officially that the person(s) named in the Will have authority to instruct the fatal accident solicitors to pursue the fatal compensation claim.

#BrokenHeart
#BrokenHeart

Deceased Left No Will – Died Intestate

If there is no Will, the deceased is said to have died “intestate” which means there is a strict line of close family members who have authority to claim.   Thus, in most cases, if the husband is killed, then the wife will be next entitled; if there is no wife then the children will be next entitled and so on.  Once it is established who is entitled to claim on behalf of the deceased, the documents will be lodged at the Probate Court so that the necessary legal documents can be obtained to authorise instruction of the fatal claim solicitors to pursue the action.  This person is called the administrator.

It must be remembered that an executor or executrix named in a will has authority to instruct a fatal accident lawyer immediately upon the death of the deceased.  However without a Will, the person entitled is called the administrator and has no authority to sue until a grant of administration by the court has been obtained.

What can be claimed under the 1934 Act?

•    Compensation for pain, suffering and loss: suffered by the Deceased before death. Thus if the death was instantaneous, surprisingly there is no compensation payable.  An insult to bereaved families to think that such a fatal blow to the deceased to kill him or her instantly deserved no compensation at all is frankly a joke in our respectful view. Likewise, if prior to death the deceased was in a “coma” there may be no compensation as the deceased did not experience any “pain or suffering”.  Difficult to take in but that is the law for now.

An insult to bereaved families to think that such a fatal blow to the deceased to kill him or her instantly deserved no compensation at all is frankly a unjust, in our respectful view.”

It is Cheap to Kill

Unfortunately as alluded to above, the Fatal Accident Act 1976 and the 1934 Act (which is law made by the Government not Judges) does not provide for any compensation for the unlawful taking of a life.  Thus the life of a child, husband, wife, brother, sister, partner, grandad, ‘nanny’ in England and Wales is ‘worthless.’

How can that be?  The Fatal Accidents Act 1976 is:

  • Unjust
  • Unfair
  • Outdated

But if it can be established that before death a loved one suffered from pain and mental anguish, the Courts may award some pitiful compensation for the suffering.  Here, the fatal accident claim solicitor will have to discuss with the bereaved family if they want to claim compensation, that a medical expert will be needed to review the hospital records of their loved one to prove the hurt and pain.  The greater the suffering the greater compensation.  But this is not a discussion by the solicitor and bereaved family that can be taken lightly, it is a very sensitive area.

Child dependency fatal accidents

If child loses a parent(s), no bereavement award is paid, it is not right, not just and cruel

In a Coroner’s Court where experts may be called to confirm the cause of death, the Coroner may leave out the amount of pain and suffering the deceased endured before death so as not to unnecessarily distress the surviving family members.  But the family has a right to know if they wish to to make an enqury.  Once again to make a claim for compensation under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 the family have to be forced to hear how their loved one suffered before death.  An unnecessary torture for the bereaved family.

Below are some examples of ‘pre-death‘ pain and suffering where fatal accident compensation has been awarded or not as the case may be.

Crushed to Death – Court Valuation £NOTHING

In a disappointing case to say the least, a Hillsborough disaster case called Hicks v Chief Constable of South Yorkshire Police 1992, the trial judge was of the view that because, according to experts, being crushed to death only took a matter of seconds (lost of consciousness followed by dying shortly afterwards) there was no evidence of injury prior to the fatal crushing injury and no pre-death pain and suffering.  As a result no award of fatal injury compensation.  Indeed, the barrister representing the parents of Sarah and Victoria Hicks had the Claimant’s evidence rejected by the Court.  The Judge referred to the barrister’s submission before in the lower court in these terms:

‘…There was a gradual build up of pressure on the bodies of the two girls causing increasing breathlessness, discomfort and pain from which they suffered for some 20 minutes before the final crushing injury which produced unconsciousness. This should have led, he submitted, to the conclusion that they sustained injuries which caused considerable pain and suffering while they were still conscious and which should attract a substantial award of damages…’

The Highest Court in England and Wales rejected that there could have been this build up of pressure causing increased breathlessness over a period of time.  The Judge decided to award  nothing.

This is what one top judge said about why no compensation is payable:

Lord Templeman whilst appreciating that the being crushed to death was no doubt terrifying for those that died on that fateful day was persuaded not to order payment of any compensation:

…fear of impending death felt by the victim of a fatal injury before that injury is inflicted cannot by itself give rise to a cause of act…’

In layman’s terms, under the 1934 Act and the Fatal Accidents Actc 1976, the fear of impending death and death itself does not give rise to any compensation for the loss of life. The Goverment makes the law and as such there is no power by the Courts in England and Wales make an award.  If death is instantaneous or almost instantaneous as in the tragic fatal crushings at Hillsborough, no compensation is payable (that is even if liability or blame could have been established).

In order for there to by any compensation ‘fear alone’ is not enough.  The victim has to experience pain and suffering before death.  For the bereaved families who will have to hear this evidence, to be worthwhile to claim compensation it probably has to me more than a few days and weeks.   This is because the Court’s valuation for the fatal injury (which is unjust in any event) will be further reduced by solicitors costs and court fees.  Both the Courts and the Government have ruled recently that such costs must now be deducted from bereaved families and not paid by the insurance company.  Where is the Justice?  Look at more examples below where compensation for pre-death pain and suffering is not worth much, in our respectful view.

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A Parent(s) will receive a bereavement award if a child is unlawfully killed if under 18 years but £NOTHING if the child is over 18 years.  Why?  It is unjust, does not make any sense. The law needs to be changed.  Do it now and sign our Bereavement E-Petition 

£3,500 Late Diagnosis of Cancer

Where there is pre-death pain and suffering, the compensation under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 is an insult.  Thus in the case of Kadir v Mistry a case decided in 2014 the NHS failed to spot early stomach cancer in a young woman with four young children.  Regrettably she died a few months after diagnosis.  Her solicitors in this medical negligence case had to obtain evidence of her ‘mental anguish‘ and torment about how she felt about discovering the misdiagnosis.  The award of  compensation?  A misley £3,500.

Due to cut backs by the Conservative Gonverment in April 2013, today, the bereaved family may lose 25% of the compensation to the fatal injury solicitors.  In addition, in a recent case called Mosson v Spousal 2015, the costs of obtaining “Probate” that is the legal work to proved that the family member(s) has authority to act on behalf of the Deceased to claim compensation, will have to further pay out of any award of compensation for the deceased (remember the pain and unimaginable mental anguish before death) the costs of the court fees and probate document.  Therefore, the fatal accident solicitor will have to think carefully with the family to decide whether it is worth putting the family though all of this anguish for the paltry sums on offer for the fatal injury compensation by the Courts in England and Wales.

£8,500 Fatal Accident Compensation – 12 Months Suffering

Another insulting example to bereaved families following the loss a loved one following an unlawful killing due to a fatal accident or criminal activity. In the case of Brown v Hamid, decided by the Courts in 2013, where a medical specialist failed to diagnose ‘pulmonary hypertension’ correctly which resulted in the deceased dying 12 months quicker.  Life curtained by 12 months worth £8,500.  Again take out fatal injury solicitors costs and probate court fees you are not left with much at all.

  • Losses/expenses as a result of the death payable to the estate.  This will include cost of care, medical expenses, aid & appliances used to help care for the deceased between the fatal accident and death.
  • Funeral expenses (if paid by the Deceased’s estate)

The Fatal Accidents Act 1976

Therefore the main difference between the Fatal Accidents At 1976 and the 1934 Act is the former applies for the benefit of the close family members ‘dependants’ that does not form part of the deceased estate.  Thus under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, only the dependents can claim for the bereavement award and dependency.  But under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 Act and the 1934 Act, both have provision to recover funeral expenses.  If there is a duplication of recoverability, only one claim can be made however.

The Fatal Accidents Act 1976 has been described as an ‘oddity’ and the fatal injury solicitor refer to a quote below that has been recently reported in the case of Mosson v Spousal  at paragraph 76 of the Judgement.

Fatal Accidents Act 1976, a claim may be made by a limited number of relatives for their bereavement suffered due to the death. The award is described in this way in the third edition of Personal Injury Schedules edited by William Latimer-Sayer and Langstaff J:

“A bereavement award is an oddity in the law of damages. The fundamental principle in personal injury claims is that the claimant should be compensated for his or her loss. Therefore a claimant needs to prove the loss, and an attempt to quantify it must be made. However, bereavement awards are subject to no such condition. Once the relative has proved he or she was within the specified class of claimant and that the defendant is liable, then an award is made. There is no need to prove any actual loss suffered by the relatives; the Court assumes certain people will inevitably be adversely affected by the death of a close relative. There is no right to seek to argue for any additional or higher sum in the event of extreme suffering. This may seem an arbitrary approach awarding damages, but the alternative has long been considered to be against public policy…”

Questions - Contact Us

Please contact us if you have any questions either if you are a dependant, close family  member or even a friend who is worried about the bereaved family and want to help.  We will always be here to help you under our No Win, No Fee, Solicitorr Service.

No Win No Fee No Worry Cycle Solicitors

Fatal Accidents At Work Claims

Compensation for Fatal Accidents at Work

Fatal accident claimsAre you looking to claim compensation for death at work? Statistics show that there are approximately 152 fatal work accidents a year for employees who are carrying out their jobs. Many relate to falling from heights such as scaffolders, roofers and builders on-site climbing ladders or working at height. There are specific Health & Safety Regulations to protect workers who work above ground level.

Employers are under a duty to provide a safe working environment for their employees.  Fatal work accidents are an obvious hazard that employers must safeguard against. All employers must ensure that the place of work is safe for all employees. They must provide any safety equipment, clothing and breathing apparatus to protect employees who are undertaking work that may cause them harm. Working at heights is an obvious danger and employers must provide not only the relevant safety equipment, but also training.

Fatal Accidents at Work Statistics

  • Construction: 44 deaths involved in construction occurred in the past year
  • Agriculture: 36 deaths in the past year
  • Manufacturing: 21 deaths
  • Other: 13 deaths

Compensation for Death at Work Case Study Example

In this case study example of a death at work, a farmer was fined for serious safety failings. The farmer was charged with negligence/fault following the death of a 27 year-old man. The victim and another employee were tasked with fixing the mechanism of a digester tank. Once the roof of the tank was opened, the employees were engulfed by toxic hydrogen sulphide gas. This compensation for death at work claim resulted in the company and two of his other businesses being fined £20,000. It was determined that the farmer failed to assess the roof and did not provide the employee’s with the necessary training before they went to carry out the task.

Mesothelioma and Industrial Disease Contracted At Work

At work if you have been exposed to asbestos dust that may prove to be fatal.  It will be classed as an industrial disease.  There are several conditions that may be caused by asbestos:

  • Mesothelioma
  • Asbestos Related Lung Cancer
  • Asbestosis

 

Mesothelioma affect the lungs and is always fatal when diagnosed, victims often have less than a year to live, some longer, some not so long.  Asbestos-related lung cancer involve the fibres from asbestos become lodged in the lung tissue causing irritation and scarring over time. This irritation and scarring can then also develop into tumours. There is often a complex association where the worker victim has also smoked and the expert evidence suggesting that there is an increased likelihood of lung cancer.  But in the case of malignant mesothelioma, the asbestos fibres scar and lead to tumours in the lining of the lungs causing cancer and death.

As expert solicitors in this area, not only do we have a wealth of experience with personal injury and industrial disease at work, we have combined our expertise when dealing with fatal accidents to provide a comprehensive legal services to bereaved families.  A complete seamless legal service providing a wealth of experience to progress your case with vigour and without fear.

Further Reading Mesothelioma After Death For Families

We have several more articles on mesothelioma to help you and your family to consider choosing the right solicitor to help you through this difficult time.  You must not delay however, as this could be a bar to making a claim and be in no doubt that despite the hardship and pain you and your family are enduring the employers insurers and legal advisers will take the matter to court to decide if there was a delay in taking court action.

Complete Guide to Claiming Compensation for Mesothelioma After Death

Mesothelioma Compensation After Death

20 Questions About Mesothelioma Compensation For Families

Contact An Expert Today

 

Fatal Accident Claims Compensation Guide

Here at R James Hutcheon solicitors we understand that loss of a loved one can cause pain, grief and suffering and that no amount of compensation can recover this loss. However, the award of compensation for death at work can help with the stress loved ones still having to pay the mortgage and bills such as as funeral costs, loan repayments and general household expenses. A bereavement award can also be awarded to the deceased’s Spouse or Parents.

For your information we have set up a fatal accident compensation guide. Anyone needing any more information please contact us.

Death At Work Compensation Claims

All of the above questions following a the death of a close family member are just a small number of enquirers that you will find answers by contacting us for sympathetic and professional advice.

The family/dependants are entitled to submit a claim to get fatal accident at work compensation on behalf of the deceased if there is blame.

Not only can the family get compensation for death at work, they are able to claim for bereavement award and dependency claim which includes funeral expenses and serious loss due to being dependant to the deceased.

What is a Dependency Claim?

A dependency claim is a claim is for the financial support, usually to the next of kin such as the deceased’s wife, husband and children – Civil Partnerships are also now recognised. When a person dies, if the deceased was had an income, that income would be lost upon death. It is generally the case that the income would be used for the benefit of the spouse/partner and children which results in a continuing loss to the dependents. The dependents are therefore able to claim for this financial loss to support them.

The calculation is usually divided in a certain way unless there is a particular pattern or unusual way the deceased supported his dependents before death. What the deceased would have earned for the rest of his/her life including any future promotions and/or any pension provisions is took in to consideration. As fatal accident at work solicitors we will assesses how much of that money would have been spent on providing for the deceased dependents/family and calculate what the dependency award would be which can amount to a substantial sum.

Bereavement Award

Your Guide to the Bereavement Award & Damages

In this guide we will help walk you through the ins and outs of the bereavement award. We will cover what it is, how you may be eligible and the current amount you can claim for in damages. We will also explain why we think the award amount is unjust.

Click the links on the right to navigation to different sections within this guide. If you are looking for the current and previous rates for bereavement damages, click the button below.

View Bereavement Compensation Rates

What Is a Bereavement Award?

A bereavement award under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 is a personal injury compensation claim made following the unlawful death of a person involved in an accident or illness at work due to the fault by another. Statutory bereavement damages of £15,120 are awarded in successful claims at court.

The most common allegation that a claims solicitor will argue against the Defendant will be under the tort law of negligence. Bereavement damages are paid where you may also hear the words ‘unlawful killing’ or where the death has occurred due to a criminal offence such as murder.

Who Is and Isn’t Entitled?

The Rules of the Bereavement Award
Entitlement for the Bereavement Award

To successfully claim for bereavement damages, certain criteria must be met. You have to be a spouse, civil partner or parent if the child is under 18. Unmarried couples who’ve been together for at least two years are now also included following a legal challenge.

Who Can Claim

There are also situations where people are unable to claim. This includes children who’ve lost a parent, parents who’ve lost a child over 18, and the loss of a sibling. Grandparents and grandchildren are not entitled. This is a part of the bereavement award that is unfair which we will explain later in this article.

Who Cannot Claim

We Believe the Amount of a Bereavement Award Is Too Low

It’s our firm belief that the amount following the wrongful death of a loved one should be increased. One of the richest countries in the world, the UK (or specifically England & Wales) makes the loss of a life following a tragic fatal accident worthless or close to it. It is not right.

The bereavement award, in our respectful view, is too low. It does not provide sufficient compensation for suffering from the death of a family member. The government has assessed the award over the years for the loss of a close family member, wife, husband, son, daughter in the current sum of £15,120.

We all appreciate that no amount of money can compensate for the loss, but the government appears to suggest (or an excuse due to the pressure from insurance companies) that the death of a loved one is only worth a ‘token amount’. That is simply not right, it’s unjust and insurance companies are getting away in not paying a “fair” amount for the recognition that the death of a close family member was unlawful.

We Believe the Award Should Be Increased

Examples of an Unjust Law

Here are some examples of why the bereavement award is an unjust law:

  • In the death of an illegitimate child (under 18 years), the mother receives bereavement entitlement while the father gets nothing. But as the law stands, even if the father was entitled to an award, both parents would have to share it, thus they would receive £7,560 each for the pain, grief and suffering. Somehow the compensation will mean, to reflect society perhaps, the parents shared suffering means they share the award? There is no logical conclusion other than penny pinching.
  • If an adult child (18 years plus) was killed in a road accident, the parents would receive nothing. Yet if the child was 17 years and 364 days old at the time of the accident, the parents would receive the full bereavement compensation. But that, as we have said before is still an insult and the parents would have to share it.
  • In the death of a parent, for some unknown reason, a child receives absolutely nothing for the death of her/his mother or father. Maybe the lawmakers at the time thought that if both parents died in a fatal road accident it would mean the children would be over-compensated because the insurance company for the person at fault would have to pay two awards. Therefore, for whatever reason a child losing his/her parent(s) gets absolutely nothing. It is not right.
  • When a child sustained fatal injuries whilst under 18 but dies when over 18 years, no bereavement damages are entitled. Can you believe it? No award is payable thanks to the case of Dolema v Deakin (1990).

What About Criminal Injuries Compensation?

If someone has died due to a violent crime, a qualified family may can claim compensation on behalf of the deceased. A child may claim if they were receiving parental care at the time of their parent’s death – this applies even if they are over 18. If a spouse or civil partner was financially dependent on the deceased, they are eligible to claim but won’t be able to claim for a bereavement award.

Claiming for the loss of life from a criminal injury is determined by a number of factors based on the impact it has had on their relative’s life. This may include financial dependency, caring dependency and funeral expenses.

Please click the link below to find out more about how criminal injuries compensation aligns with bereavement damages.

Criminal Injuries Compensation

Watch Our Quick Guide

Government Benefit Support (Widow’s Allowance)

The Government scheme may help towards families who have lost a loved one, but it has been heavily criticised when it was updated recently as families, especially with children, are said be losing out.

A benefit is called a Bereavement Support Payment and is payable if a husband, wife or civil partner died on or after 6 April 2017.

If that is the case, then the following must be met:

  • paid National Insurance contributions for at least 25 weeks
  • the death was caused from an accident at work or a disease caused by work
  • be under State Pension age
  • be living in the UK or a country that pays bereavement benefits

But, according to the Childhood Bereavement Network, it claims that working families could lose out by £12,000 each due to the law change by the Conservative Government in 2017, as per this childhood bereavement article.

Widow’s Parent Allowance

A Government scheme may also pay you an additional amount under what is called the Widowed Parent’s Allowance if:

  • husband, wife or civil partner died before 6 April 2017
  • under State Pension age
  • entitled to Child Benefit for at least one child and your late husband, wife or civil partner was their parent
  • your late husband, wife or civil partner paid NI contributions, or they died as a result of an industrial accident or disease

The Government website also says that you may also claim WPA if you’re pregnant and your husband has died, or you’re pregnant after fertility treatment and your civil partner has died.

The amount you get is based on how much your late husband, wife or civil partner paid in National Insurance contributions and the maximum benefit paid is £117.10 a week.

Get in Touch to Find Out Your Options

Award for Unmarried Couples Challenged in Court

The rights for unmarried couples who suffer from a bereavement is being challenged in the Highest Court in England and Wales.

A legal challenge is to be pursued on behalf of parents who are not married should be entitled to receive the same bereavement benefits as those who are married. A spokesperson said that every year more than 2,000 families in the UK face the “double hit” of one parent dying and their partner realising that their children are not eligible for bereavement benefits.

It is reported that, on average, a cohabiting parent earning £10,000 a year loses out by over £15,000 over the children’s childhood if their partner dies.

In another example, as reported by the BBC, an unmarried woman from Chorley has won a historic legal battle. Jakki Smith argued that her human rights had been breached by not receiving bereavement damages following her partner’s death which was caused by an infection following a tumour removal. The court ruled in her favour stating that the bereavement award should be provided to anyone in a relationship for at least two years.

Update on Cohabitants and Bereavement Awards

Following a court case in the Court of Appeal, Jacqueline Smith v Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust; Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust; and the Secretary of State for Justice ([2017] EWCA Civ 1916 the Government is to review the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 under section 1A(2)(a) due to the Court’s findings that only married couples can claim for a bereavement award which is incompatible with Article 14 read with Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR).  Mrs Smith in that case had lived with the deceased as his unmarried partner for a period of over two years immediately prior to his death.

As the law currently stands a bereavement award following a fatal accident claim can can only be made to:

  • the wife or  husband of the deceased;
  • the civil partner of the deceased;
  • where the deceased was a minor who was never married or had a civil partner( a minor here is classed as under the age of 18 years old at the time of death); to his or her parents if he or she was legitimate; or to his or her mother, if illegitimate.

Keep Up-to-Date

Change for the Better

Thus the Government is proposing to amend the Fatal Accidents Act under section 1A(2)(a) to as to incorporate cohabitees who have lived together in a compatible relationship for a period of at least two years prior to the fatal accident to be able to claim compensation for a bereavement award. The proposed order can be viewed: Remedial Order to Amend Fatal Accidents Act 1976 (May 2019) & Bereavement Award

The Fatal Accidents Act 1976 provision on couples  ‘living together’ is that they must be living in the same household for at least two years prior to death and is summarised below;

Section 1(3)(b) of the 1976 Act allows cohabitees to make a claim for bereavement damages subject to certain criteria:

  • That they were living with the deceased in the same household immediately before the date of the death
  • That they had been living with the deceased in the same household for at least 2 years before that date
  • That they were living during the whole of that period as the husband or wife or civil partner of the deceased.

This provision for unmarried couples under the 1976 Act is incompatible to section 10 (2) Human Rights Act. The breach of Article 14 identified by the Court in the Smith Case relates a right to family life as the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 discriminates against couples who are not married. The Government consider that there are compelling reasons for making the necessary legislative change swiftly.

The proposed change in the 1976 Act, would have the effect that a claimant who cohabited with the deceased person for a period of at least two years immediately prior to the death would be eligible to receive an award of bereavement damages.

Further where both a qualifying cohabitant and a spouse is eligible (i.e. where the deceased was still married and not yet divorced or separated but had been in a new cohabiting relationship for at least two years) the award should be divided equally between the eligible claimants.  This is really a money pinching compromise, both should be entitled to a full bereavement award.  In reality the loss is significant, the bereavement award is not a great deal of compensation in the whole scheme of things and the numbers that it affects are small.

The change in the law will apply fatal accidents occurring on or after the day on which the new laws come into force.

We Believe the Award Should Be Increased

Jack’s Law and Bereavement Leave

Some good news that the Government are putting into law in regards to bereavement leave. Working parents who lose a child are to be entitled to two weeks’ statutory leave, under the new legal right – referred to as “Jack’s Law.”

The law is named after 23-month-old Jack Herd, who tragically lost his life in 2010 after drowning in a pond. His father returned to work just a mere three days after Jack’s death, whilst Jack’s mother, Lucy Herd, began a campaign to highlight the problems facing bereaved parents who previously were expected to return to work as quick as possible.

Some good out of something so tragic. Two weeks is of some help but most employers would usually provide this in any event.

For further reading, please read our blog about Jack’s law and bereavement leave.

Taking Money from the Deceased’ Family Is Wrong

As fatal accident compensation solicitors we feel this is unjust to take up to 25% of the compensation for grieving families. However, whilst we do not like to charge any success fee, due to significant increases in court fees and drastic legal cost cutting we are forced to make a charge which currently stands at 12.5% (half what most other solicitors will charge) plus vat.

We offer a No Win, No Fee service so the family are fully protected. It can be costly to go to another firm of solicitors.

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Are you looking to claim bereavement damages for the death of a family member? Please feel free to contact our specialist fatal accident solicitors for guidance and advice. We will be pleased to help you even if it is just a query rather than making a fatal accident claim.

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