Category Archives: Bereavement Award

Bereaved Parents Not Entitled to Compensation

FURTHER INJUSTICE FOR BEREAVED FAMILIES

As a solicitor that helps bereaved families get to the truth following the loss of a loved one due to unlawful killings, accidents on the road and at work, I am continuing to fight for justice but find that the Courts and successive Governments are not in tune with today’s society and thinking.  They are caught up in a time warp of outdated laws and attitudes that only apply more misery following the aftermath of losing a close family member such as child, wife, husband, partner, parents brother and sister.  So another judgement has recently been handed down that set the tone of things to come.

Wrongful Death Compensation in UK

Supreme Court’s Ruling Paul & others v Royal Wolverhampton NHS Trust & Others

The Supreme Court’s recent ruling has concluded a significant legal debate on the extent of duty of care owed by medical professionals, not to the patients directly under their care, but to the close family members who suffer psychiatric illness as a result of witnessing their loved one’s distressing death due to medical negligence. This judgment, articulated through appeals involving varied circumstances of loss and psychological trauma, ultimately decided that the realm of medical professionals’ responsibilities does not extend to preventing such psychological harm to the patient’s family members.

Brief Facts About the Claim

In these three legal actions, each set of claimants seeks compensation under the negligence law for psychological distress experienced from observing a loved one’s death under harrowing conditions. Each incident of death is attributed to the alleged negligence of the involved medical professionals or health authorities, who are accused of failing to identify and manage a critical health issue.

The case titled “Paul” involves two young daughters who witnessed their father’s abrupt demise on a public road due to such a health crisis. In “Polmear,” the claimants are the bereaved parents who saw the heartrending passing of their young child. The “Purchase” case features a claimant who discovered her daughter under traumatic conditions shortly after she had passed away.

The defendants in each case sought to immediately dismiss the claims for compensation related to psychological harm, contending that even if the presented facts were accepted as true, the claims would legally be unable to proceed.

All lower courts and the Court of Appeal through various legal channels, setting the stage for further judicial examination of the claims following rejection and dismissal of all claims.  The matter was therefore given leave to the Supreme Court to decide finally on the law in this area.

Supreme Court’s Rational to Prevent Bereaved Claimants Making a Claim

Central to this decision is the distinction drawn between accidents and medical events. While the law has carved out exceptions for compensation in cases of psychiatric illness caused by witnessing accidents due to negligence, the Court firmly differentiated these scenarios from those involving the progression or outcome of medical conditions. The Court reasoned that accidents are sudden and identifiable events, whereas the development and manifestation of medical conditions can span a significant period, making the witnessing of these events and their impact on observers highly variable.

This perspective underscores a broader philosophical and legal discourse on the nature of duty, care, and the boundaries of liability. It reflects on how society delineates the scope of protection individuals can expect from professionals and institutions, in this case, highlighting a reluctance to broaden the medical profession’s duty of care to include shielding individuals from the emotional impact of witnessing the consequences of medical failures.

However the Decision Was by a Majority

The Supreme Court’s majority opinion, supported by six justices against one, aligns with a longstanding principle in common law that limits claims for compensation to those directly affected by an action or negligence, barring a few exceptions. This ruling, therefore, maintains a narrow interpretation of duty of care, focused on the direct patient-doctor relationship and excluding secondary victims from claiming compensation for psychiatric injury.

Thanks to One Judge, Lord Burrows

Critics of the decision, including the dissenting Lord Burrows, argue this approach unjustly narrows the possibilities for claims by relatives of patients in cases of medical negligence. They advocate for a broader interpretation that would recognise the traumatic impact on families and offer a pathway for compensation. This perspective sees the event of death due to medical negligence as a critical moment of harm, meriting consideration within the framework of duty of care, even when it doesn’t involve a sudden accident.

The Court’s ruling raises essential questions about the balance between the economic sustainability of public healthcare systems, like the NHS, and the moral imperative to acknowledge and ameliorate the full spectrum of harm caused by medical errors.

While it acknowledges the financial and systemic pressures faced by the NHS, it also draws attention to the limitations placed on justice and compensation for families devastated by medical negligence.

In essence, this judgment reflects the ongoing struggle to define the limits of accountability and support within healthcare, legal, and societal frameworks. It leaves a profound impact on families seeking redress for psychiatric injuries, shaping the future discourse on the responsibilities of healthcare providers beyond the immediate patient care, and how society values and supports individuals affected by the ripple effects of medical negligence.

Further Reading for Bereaved Families

Whilst another legal blow against bereaved families, nevertheless there are still significant help and support that we can provide to assist in the aftermath of losing a loved one.  This will include liaising with the police, the coroner, courts, insurance companies to establish the truth and gain compensation to help support the family that often loses financial and care support.

For further guidance please click on the following:

How to claim for a bereavement award

Who can claim for a bereavement award?

Who is a dependent of the deceased?

What is a Coroner’s court and Inquest?

Contact us for help and support following a bereavement.

 

Bereavement Award – Time Is Running Out

Bereaved Parents Claim for Bereavement Award

In the realm of bereavement support and claims, two key articles shed light on vital information for eligible parents, particularly regarding imminent deadlines and eligibility criteria.

An important reminder is penned by Lucy Alderson, highlights a crucial deadline to claim a bereavement award looming for parents who have lost a partner. These individuals have until February 8 to submit a backdated claim to the government for financial assistance, potentially amounting to thousands of pounds.

IMPORTANT NOTE ON BEREAVEMENT AWARD

This award is payable by the Government and must be distinguished from a bereavement award that is payable due to:

The Government Bereavement Award

This benefit, historically available  only to married couples or those in civil partnerships, was extended last year to include cohabiting parents. The deadline is critical: claims can be backdated as far as 2001, but after February 8, claims can only be backdated to August 30, 2018. The bereavement support payment system, which replaced the widowed parent’s allowance in 2017, varies depending on the partner’s national insurance contributions and the claimant’s circumstances. Urgency is paramount, as the application process requires a form downloadable from the gov.uk website, to be submitted before the deadline.

How to Claim for Backdated Widowed Parent’s Allowance

The eligibility for the Widowed Parent’s Allowance (WPA), now superseded by the Bereavement Support Payment. It clarifies that existing WPA recipients will continue receiving payments until eligibility ceases.

New claims for WPA are restricted to those whose partners passed away before April 6, 2017. Eligibility hinges on several factors: being under state pension age, entitlement to Child Benefit for at least one child, and the marital or living arrangement with the deceased partner, who must have met certain contribution conditions. Interestingly, the allowance is also accessible to those who were pregnant at the time of their partner’s death or became pregnant through fertility treatment thereafter. However, there are restrictions: divorcees, those who have remarried or are cohabiting, and individuals over the state pension age at the time of their partner’s death are ineligible.

For individuals seeking bereavement support, understanding these eligibility requirements and deadlines is crucial. The government’s bereavement support provides a financial lifeline during challenging times, and awareness of these opportunities can significantly impact the lives of those affected by loss.

Making a claim for a bereavement support payment can be found on our website under bereavement award and the relevant part is reproduced below:

What Is the Bereavement Support Payment?

Making a claim for a bereavement support payment can be found on our website under bereavement award and the relevant part is reproduced below, but please click on the Government Website Bereavement Support Payment for up to date information on claiming.

The Government scheme may help 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 to be losing out.

The 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 by an accident at work or a disease caused by work
  • be under the 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.

Get In Touch Today

What Is the 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 if 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.

But time is running out.

Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

How long to live following mesothelioma diagnosis?

Warning: This page concerns many questions asked by family members concerning how long a loved one has to live when diagnosed with a mesothelioma condition.   This page is written by experienced solicitors handling compensation for mesothelioma claims, we are not expert medical practitioners and naturally when reading this article you should be seeking expert medical advice from your GP and consultant.  Do not rely upon any information in this article in respect of medical advice or prognosis. We have referred to many external sources of information in support of this article which you must use with care.

Once you have read this article we would urge you to contact us for professional advice.

Frequently Asked Questions About Mesothelioma Life Expectancy and Treatment

We have put together many question and answers in response to queries often asked by our clients and their families. This article is a guide taking various sources into account from various websites and also from our experience dealing with many mesothelioma compensation claims.  For any living mesothelioma clients we will, with urgency, instruct our own independent medical expert to examine the client and provide a report on all aspects of exposure to the asbestos dust, the cause of mesothelioma and life expectancy.

Please be aware that there are also many mesothelioma claims by wives of husbands who washed their work’s clothes that was exposed to asbestos.  Often a wife would shake the clothes or simply by handling them she would be exposed to the asbestos dust.

This often comes as a surprise and shock but there are genuine mesothelioma claims brought by wives who have never worked with asbestos but was exposed to the deadly dust when they washed  their husband’s clothing.

When it comes to mesothelioma, a rare and aggressive form of cancer, understanding life expectancy is crucial for workers and their families. Mesothelioma life expectancy refers to the predicted length of time a person exposed to asbestos dust is expected to live after being diagnosed with this disease.

However, it’s important to note that these estimates are not set in stone and can vary based on several factors.

In this comprehensive guide, we will delve into the various aspects of mesothelioma life expectancy, including the average life expectancy, factors that influence it, and different types of mesothelioma. So, let’s explore the topic further.

Making a claim for mesothelioma: If you with to make a claim for mesothelioma compensation or wish to find out more on how to claim for mesothelioma for yourself if you were personally exposed to asbestos dust or if a family member has died within the last three years please click on our mesothelioma compensation guide.

 

A wife with her husband in hospital who has mesothelioma

What is the Life Expectancy When Diagnosed With Mesothelioma?

The average life expectancy for patients with mesothelioma who undergo is around 12-21 months. It’s important to note that this is an average, and individual cases can vary significantly. The life expectancy of a mesothelioma patient is influenced by various factors, including overall health, cancer stage, mesothelioma cell type, and response to treatment.

Whilst the prognosis for mesothelioma is frequently bleak due to its late symptomatic manifestation and rapid progression in advanced stages if caught early there may be a longer survival period especially with early detection and advanced treatments.  Surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation therapy are common treatment options that can extend life expectancy and improve quality of life.

There are approximately 2,500 deaths annually in the UK alone.  It is important for the family to contact us urgently, as specialist mesothelioma solicitors as it will be very helpful to making a claim if we can obtain a work history from a ‘live client’ and to obtain an independent medical examination to confirm a mesothelioma diagnosis.

What are the symptoms of mesothelioma?

In general mesothelioma symptoms unfold over time, often remaining latent for decades after asbestos exposure. Lung-related ‘pleural mesothelioma’ indications include

  • chest pain,
  • shortness of breath,
  • persistent fatigue,
  • night sweats,
  • lingering cough,
  • weight loss,
  • clubbed (swollen) fingertips.

Further there may also be abdominal symptoms ‘peritoneal mesothelioma’ individuals may experience;

  • stomach pain,
  • swelling,
  • nausea,
  • appetite loss,
  • bowel irregularities.

These signs, however, rarely surface until many years after exposure to asbestos, some 20 to 40 years plus.  This is known as the latency period.  This is why the vast majority of mesothelioma clients we see are over 60 years of age.

Understanding Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

Mesothelioma is a cancer that affects the thin layer of tissue (mesothelium) covering the organs in the chest and abdomen. It is primarily caused by exposure to asbestos, a mineral commonly used in construction, manufacturing, and other industries. As with any form of cancer, the prognosis and life expectancy of mesothelioma patients can vary significantly.

Is Mesothelioma 100% Fatal?

Mesothelioma is considered highly aggressive, and while there are cases of long-term survival, it is generally viewed as incurable. Current treatments aim to extend life and enhance the patient’s well-being, but a complete cure remains elusive.

How is Mesothelioma diagnosed?

Many clients’ mesothelioma diagnosis present with a persistent cough but when mesothelioma is suspected, a series of diagnostic tests becomes crucial. These include a biopsy, X-rays of the chest or abdomen, CT scans for detailed internal images, fluid drainage for analysis, and procedures like thoracoscopy or laparoscopy, allowing the examination of the chest or abdomen with a thin camera. These assessments assist in diagnosing mesothelioma and determining its extent.

Are There Any Survivors of Mesothelioma?

Yes, there are instances of long-term mesothelioma survivors. These cases are often associated with early-stage diagnoses, aggressive treatment plans, and a positive response to therapies. Research and advancements in treatment options provide hope for improved survival rates.

When Will Symptoms Develop After Exposure to Asbestos?

From first exposure to the asbestos dust to symptoms of mesothelioma varies from person to person.  The latency period but typically ranges from 20 to 40 years, making it challenging to pinpoint exactly when exposure occurred. Understanding this latency period is crucial for early detection and intervention and also for mesothelioma solicitor tracing the correct employer to trace and sue for compensation.

How Quickly Does Mesothelioma Progress?

The progression of mesothelioma varies from patient to patient. Factors such as cancer stage, cell type, and overall health influence the speed of progression. Mesothelioma can progress rapidly in some cases, emphasising the importance of early diagnosis and prompt intervention.

Symptoms At End-Stage Mesothelioma

End-stage mesothelioma presents with pronounced symptoms, including extreme fatigue, significant weight loss, and difficulty swallowing. Understanding these symptoms helps in providing appropriate care and support for patients and their families during this critical phase.  In the advanced stages of mesothelioma, symptoms near death may include severe pain, respiratory distress, and a decline in organ function. Palliative care becomes a primary focus to alleviate suffering and enhance the patient’s quality of life during this challenging period.

What are the Root Cause of Asbestos Exposure Causing Mesothelioma

The primary cause of mesothelioma is almost always asbestos exposure, consisting of microscopic fibers prevalent in construction materials. Inhaling these fibers can lead to lung damage over time, with mesothelioma typically emerging more than 20 years or more after exposure. Despite asbestos use being banned many years ago, materials containing asbestos persist in many older buildings, posing a risk of exposure.  They are often found in older houses, public buildings including schools, factories amongst others.  Often clients are surprised that their garage roof is made of asbestos.

Treatment Strategies, Focus on Palliative Care

As mesothelioma is often diagnosed in advanced stages, the emphasis of treatment is on palliative or supportive care.   Many clients will be elderly due to the latent period from first exposure to asbestos (many going back to the 1960’s and 1970’s) to mesothelioma symptoms so often our clients are over 60 years of age.  Mainstream treatments involve chemotherapy, aiming to shrink the cancer, and radiotherapy, employing high-energy radiation to control cancer cells. Surgery may be considered in early-stage detection, though its efficacy remains uncertain. Immunotherapy, stimulating the immune system against cancer cells, presents another avenue, albeit without curative potential.

Government Assistance and Military Mesothelioma Claims

For those exposed who worked for the MOD in the military exposed to asbestos in the UK, government-run mesothelioma assistance schemes may provide compensation, with similar support available for armed forces personnel. These schemes aim to address the financial aspects of dealing with mesothelioma-related challenges, 

What are the factors that an influence life expectancy with mesothelioma?

Several factors can impact a patient’s life expectancy with mesothelioma. Let’s take a closer look at some of the key factors:

1. Cancer Stage

The stage of mesothelioma at the time of diagnosis plays a crucial role in determining life expectancy. Mesothelioma is typically categorized into four stages, with stage 1 being the earliest and stage 4 being the most advanced. Generally, patients diagnosed at earlier stages have a better prognosis and longer life expectancy compared to those diagnosed at later stages.

2. Mesothelioma Cell Type

Mesothelioma can be classified into three main cell types: epithelial, sarcomatoid, and biphasic. The epithelial cell type tends to have a better prognosis compared to the other two types. Patients with epithelial mesothelioma often have a more favorable response to treatment and, consequently, a longer life expectancy.

3. Overall Health And Life Expectancy

A patient’s overall health and survival concerning  life expectancy will dependent upon many factors including physical condition can significantly impact their ability to withstand cancer and its treatments. Patients who are in good health, have normal blood counts, and are physically fit tend to have a better prognosis and longer life expectancy. Additionally, age and lifestyle factors, such as smoking, can also influence a patient’s overall health and, consequently, their life expectancy.

Mesothelioma & Life Expectancy by Type

Mesothelioma can occur in different parts of the body, leading to distinct types of the disease. Let’s explore the life. Expectancy for each type:

1. Pleural Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type and affects the lining of the lungs. On average, patients with pleural mesothelioma have a life expectancy of about 18 months. However, this can vary depending on the stage at the time of diagnosis. Early-stage patients have better treatment options and a higher chance of longer survival.

Life Expectancy by Stage

The stage of pleural mesothelioma significantly impacts a patient’s life expectancy. Here’s a breakdown of the average life expectancy for each stage:

  • Stage 1: Patients diagnosed at stage 1 have a higher chance of survival, with approximately 60% surviving for 1 year or more after diagnosis.
  • Stage 2: Around 55% of stage 2 patients survive for 1 year or more after diagnosis.
  • Stage 3: Approximately 50% of stage 3 patients survive for 1 year or more after diagnosis.
  • Stage 4: Stage 4 patients have a lower life expectancy, with about 30% surviving for 1 year or more after diagnosis.

It’s important to note that these statistics are based on data from England and may vary in different regions.

2. Peritoneal Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

Peritoneal mesothelioma affects the lining of the abdomen. This type of mesothelioma has a more favorable prognosis compared to pleural mesothelioma. On average, patients who undergo cytoreductive surgery with hyperthermic intraperitoneal chemotherapy (HIPEC) have a life expectancy of approximately 53 months, according to a report in Cancer Management and Research. This combined treatment approach has shown promising results in improving survival rates for peritoneal mesothelioma patients.

3. Rare Types of Mesothelioma

Pericardial mesothelioma, which affects the protective sac surrounding the heart, is the rarest form of the disease. It has the shortest life expectancy, averaging between 2-6 months. Testicular mesothelioma, another rare type, has a median life expectancy of 72.5 months. Both of these types are relatively uncommon and account for a small percentage of mesothelioma cases.

Improving Mesothelioma Life Expectancy

While mesothelioma is a challenging disease, there are treatment options available that can help improve a patient’s life expectancy. Here are some of the primary treatment approaches

 

1. Surgery

Surgery plays a crucial role in the treatment of mesothelioma, especially for early-stage patients. Surgical procedures aim to remove as much cancerous tissue as possible. Some common surgeries for mesothelioma include:

  • Extrapleural pneumonectomy (EPP): This procedure involves removing the affected lung, as well as nearby tissues and organs.
  • Pleurectomy/decortication (P/D): Unlike EPP, P/D focuses on removing the lining of the lung and any visible tumors, while preserving the lung itself.
  • Cytoreduction with HIPEC: This treatment is specifically used for peritoneal mesothelioma and involves removing visible tumors from the abdomen and administering heated chemotherapy directly into the abdominal cavity.
  • 2. Chemotherapy

Chemotherapy utilises powerful drugs to kill cancer cells and slow down the progression of the disease. It can be used as a standalone treatment or in combination with surgery or radiation therapy. Common chemotherapy drugs for mesothelioma include cisplatin, carboplatin, gemcitabine, and pemetrexed. Recent advancements in chemotherapy have shown promising results, particularly when combined with immunotherapy.

3. Immunotherapy

Immunotherapy is a cutting-edge treatment approach that harnesses the power of the immune system to fight cancer. It works by stimulating the body’s immune response to target and destroy cancer cells. In 2020, the FDA approved the use of immunotherapy drugs for the treatment of pleural mesothelioma, offering new hope for patients. Clinical trials are also underway to explore the potential of immunotherapy for other types of mesothelioma.

4. Emerging Treatments and Clinical Trials

Ongoing research and clinical trials are paving the way for innovative treatments and therapies for mesothelioma. These include gene therapy, photodynamic therapy, targeted therapy, and other emerging treatments. While these options are still being studied, they hold promise for improving mesothelioma life expectancy in the future.

Mesothelioma Life Expectancy Without Treatment

For patients who are unable to undergo or choose not to pursue aggressive treatments, the average life expectancy without treatment is generally shorter. Pleural mesothelioma patients without treatment have an average survival time of 4-12 months, while peritoneal mesothelioma patients without treatment survive for approximately 6-12 months. It’s essential for patients in this situation to discuss palliative care options with their healthcare providers to manage symptoms and improve quality of life.

Conclusion

Mesothelioma life expectancy is influenced by various factors, including cancer stage, cell type, overall health, and response to treatment. While the average life expectancy for mesothelioma patients is around 12-21 months with treatment, individual cases can vary significantly. Early detection, access to specialised care, and advancements in treatment options can help improve life expectancy and provide hope for patients and their families. If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma, it’s crucial to consult with a mesothelioma specialist to explore personalised treatment options and maximize life expectancy.

Please remember, mesothelioma is a complex disease, and this article should not substitute professional medical advice. It’s always best to consult with a qualified healthcare provider for personalised guidance and support.

Expert Legal Support For You And The Family

However if a diagnosis has been made with work related mesothelioma due to asbestos exposure you should not suffer in silence.  In addition to medical guidance by medical experts we will instruct, we can also obtain valuable compensation for you and your loved ones.  As solicitor we can also put you in touch with expert will writers and assist with sorting out your financial affairs so you get on with living as best as possible whilst we sort out all of the legal work in the background.

Contact The Mesothelioma Solicitors

Should you be reading this article as a result of the death of a loved one due to a diagnosis of mesothelioma we are sill able to help the family obtain compensation, assist with all the legal matters such as a grant of probate,  inquest and sue the correct defendant employer to obtain some justice for the pain and suffering. Please get in touch now by clicking specialist legal mesothelioma support contact page.

 

Can you die from a broken heart?

Bereavement and dying of a broken heart

This is very emotive topic.  I am a solicitor and act for many bereaved families for over 30 years.  I have recently read about takotsubo syndrome a condition that affects the heart following the death of a loved one.  

I have heard for many years that someone can die of a broken heart due to a bereavement following the loss of a husband, wife, partner or child.  The heart no longer wants to beat and the pain becomes unbearable.  Often you read, particularly with older couples when a wife or husband dies the survivor does not live very long following the loss.  This pain of loss has been described as ‘takotsubo syndrome’ often referred to as broken heart syndrome, which is a sudden and acute form of heart failure.

Such are the tales that you hear or read about are not uncommon.  I have done some research and found another condition called the ‘widowhood effect.  In a 2014 study it highlighted a significant increase in the risk of death within the first three months for individuals whose spouses had recently died, indicating a 66% higher chance. Previous studies had suggested even higher probabilities, reaching up to 90%. Surprisingly, the research debunked the notion that men faced a greater risk than women, revealing equal chances for both genders. Beyond the initial three months, surviving spouses still had a 15% elevated risk of dying.

But the widowhood effect in the study does not point to takotsubo syndrome but that the risk of dying is due to other factors that could be due to the level of depression in close marital relationships, with homeowners experiencing heightened distress possibly due to increased responsibilities. Financial dependence and reliance on spouses for tasks led to post-widowhood anxiety in women. Abrupt, unexpected deaths increased stress, particularly when it resulted in an immediate loss of financial and emotional support.

But takotsubo syndrome does not appear to have played significant role in early mortality in that study. However the condition may not have been considered in detail but the report’s findings do refer to widowed men facing higher risks of conditions like chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

#BrokenHeart

What is takotsubo syndrome?

Takotsubo syndrome was first identified in Japan in 1990 and referred to as broken heart syndrome.  A bereavement can trigger an emotional distress, that can cause a chest pain similar to heart attacks.  The syndrome typically arises from intense emotional or physical stress, a loss of a loved one like a bereavement, can bring on this condition. It typically occurs when dis-tress signals prompted by upsetting events such as the death of a relative travel from the brain to the heart.

Although it is estimated that around 30% of people cannot identify a specific trigger, emotional trauma remains a prominent factor. Takotsubo cardiomyopathy, as it is medically termed is apparently named from the unique shape the left ventricle resembling a Japanese octopus called “takotsubo.”

Is a heart attack treated differently?

A heart  attack is different from a broken heart. A heart attack is characterised by the heart muscle’s sudden weakening or ‘stunning,’ leading to a change in the shape of the left ventricle, one of the heart’s chambers. This alteration impairs the heart’s ability to pumip blood efficiently, resulting in symptoms that mimic those of a heart attack, such as chest pain, breathlessness, or collapse.

Presently, there is no unanimous agreement among experts on the optimal treatment for Takotsubo syndrome. Current approaches involve employing medications typically prescribed for other heart conditions such as heart failure and heart attacks. It’s crucial to note that Takotsubo syndrome differs significantly from these conventional heart conditions.

In a study, Dana Dawson, a professor from the University of Aberdeen’s cardiology and cardiovascular research unit, has said the symptoms of takotsubo cardiomyopathy could resemble those of a heart attack, including shortness of breath and chest pain, but is unlike a heart attack as patients do not suffer from a blockage of the arteries that supply the heart with blood.   However the medical profession were treating takotsubo cardiomyopathy patients similar to those who suffered from a heat attack.  The professor is quoted as saying that:

“…takotsubo cardiomyopathy is a different condition entirely and unlike a heart attack, patients don’t suffer from a blockage of the arteries that supply the heart with blood,.

The study of broken heart syndrome

In the study heart attacks and broken heart syndrome patients were analysed. The research team, were surprised by the consistent medication approach with classical heart attacks and found similar prescription rates for both cardiovascular and non-cardiovascular medications. The study, analysing data from 3,720 published in the journal JACC and reported in the British Heat Foundation, shown that individuals over a decade, revealed increased mortality and susceptibility to heart conditions, equating the chance of death to that of heart attack survivors.

The professor has indicated that the data showed that the medical profession were not treating this condition correctly, that patients suffering from broken heart syndrome have increased mortality compared with the general population, an increased vulnerability to developing heart conditions and as much chance of dying from this as people who have suffered heart attacks.  The study highlights the inadequacy of how a bereavement following broken heart syndrome requires more research and a need for tailored and nuanced therapeutic strategies.

Sinéad O’Connor die of a broken heart?

In the press that Sinéad O’Connor, the Irish singer and activist, had died of natural causes..  Indeed a coroner’s office in London, England, confirmed that this is the case. It may be that she sadly died from a “broken heart.”

Can you claim for a bereavement award?

In the context of Takotsubo syndrome, an additional layer of complexity arises concerning bereaved families in England and Wales. The existing compensation framework fails to recognise the emotional and psychological toll on families, leaving an unsettling injustice system.

As medical research delves deeper into understanding this complex condition, advocating for a holistic approach encompassing medical, emotional, and societal dimensions becomes imperative.

But the Government make the law and set the amount of compensation the loss of a loved one will receive following a bereavement.  To claim for bereavement damages, you must be a spouse, civil partner or parent if the child is under 18. Unmarried couples who have been together for at least two years are also included.

How much is a bereavement award for a broken heart?

The current bereavement award is fixed at £15,120 from 1st May 2020 up from £12,980 previously.  The amount is obviously unjust and bears no reflection to the grief, pain and aftermath of a bereavement.  However there are many other aspects where a survivor and family left behind can claim addition compensation such as funeral expenses, grave stone and dependency among other heads of loss.  In years to come, following this study concerning takotsubo cardiomyopathy the Government may realise that the pain and hurt following a bereavement may be classed as a personal injury and look to increase this vastly under compensated claim. I very much doubt this however.

#BrokenHeart

Who can claim for a bereavement award?

We have a law that not only provides a derogatory figure for bereavement following the loss of a loved one, it also limits family members who are entitled to a bereavement award.  This is all found under an old law back in 1976 under the Fatal Accidents Act where if a family member is entitled to a bereavement award,  it is limited to a one-off payment.  Currently a bereavement award is limited to the wife or husband or civil partner of the deceased. The only exception is where the deceased was a minor, in which case his or her parents may be entitled to the Bereavement Award.

Contact us if you have been affected by this article.

Fatal Road Accidents Statistics

The facts and figures of Deaths in Road Accidents in the UK

Deaths due to road accidents are recorded centrally and provide an overarching picture of the fatalities and casualties on our roads.  An important insight into fatal road accident statistics can be gained where road users are sadly killed that can be broken down by various factors such a as the mode of transport, age and sex of the victims even down to location.

Road Accident Crash Map

There is an excellent statistical tool that provides details of road accidents near you.  Simple type in your post code and you will find details of accidents from minor to fatal injuries within a region where you live.  Click on the picturing of the map below to take you to the website.

Age and Sex Data

The following fatal road accident statistics depicts fatal road accidents by Age and Sex courtesy of the Department of Transport, the information is a comparison between years 2019 and 2022 respectively.

The highest group of road deaths are male age 30 to 49 years.  This mirrors the same age group for females.

The following road death statistics published by the Department of Transport in September 2023 are summarised below:

1. Deprivation: The Index of Multiple Deprivation (IMD) reveals a correlation between road deaths and deprivation, with a higher proportion of fatal road accidents occurring in more deprived areas.

2. Road Casualties: The trend in fatal road casualties over four decades, showing a general decline. In 2022, road casualties increased compared to 2020 and 2021, indicating a return to pre-pandemic trends. The final estimates for reported road collisions in Great Britain in 2022 include 1,711 fatalities (2% decline from 2019), 29,742 killed or seriously injured (3% decline), and 135,480 casualties of all severities (12% decline).

3. Casualty Rates: The casualty rates per billion miles traveled in 2022 increased slightly compared to 2019, with 5 road fatalities, 91 killed or seriously injured casualties, and 413 casualties of all severities. The data suggests stability in casualty rates over the last decade, influenced by changes in traffic patterns and the impact of COVID-19 lockdowns.

4. Not Wearing a Seatbelt: In 2022, around a fifth of car passengers were not wearing seatbelts. The proportion was higher for male car occupant fatalities and those traveling during the evening and night (6pm to 8am).

What are the most common causes of fatal road accidents?

The statistics show the following:

The man three main causes of death by road accidents are:

  1. Loss of control
  2. Driver or rider failed to look properly
  3. Driver or rider careless, reckless or in a hurry

The factors in relegation to where the driver or rider is careless for reckless relate to the common offences of:

Causing death by dangerous driving riding

Causing death by dangerous driving is one thing bereaved families must consider when facing an untimely and sudden loss of a loved one following a tragic road accident. A driver or cyclist charged with the offence will be liable for a civil claim for compensation and criminal charges by the police, potentially leading to imprisonment.

Causing death by careless driving or riding

Many of the deaths on UK roads are caused by fatal road accidents due to death by careless driving. If someone is arrested by the police and found guilty of causing death by careless driving, they may face time in prison. As well as imprisonment, the culprit may also be liable for a civil compensation claim where damages will be paid to the bereaved family.

Fatal road accidents caused by drink and drugs

In 2021, estimates of casualties in collisions involving at least one driver or rider over the drink-drive limit in Great Britain revealed concerning trends:

240 to 280 people were killed in drink-drive collisions, with a central estimate of 260 fatalities.
– The estimate for fatalities in 2021 is the highest since 2009, indicating a statistically significant increase from 2020.
– The central estimate for killed or seriously injured drink-drive casualties in 2021 is 1,880, marking a notable 23% increase from 2020.
– An estimated 6,740 people were killed or injured in drink-drive collisions, showing a 4% rise from 2020. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is noted, with increases in 2021 following
reductions in the previous year.

Fatal Accidents to Cycle Riders

The Table below shows the number of cycle riders killed on UK roads per billion of miles travelled. When compared with distance traveled pedal cyclist and motorbike riders fair unfavourably due to the fact that they are vunerarble road users.

Overall personal injury rates for car occupants, pedal cyclists and motorcyclists have shown a decline in numbers.

Motorbike Fatal Accident Statistics

 

Fatal Road Accidents By Type of Road

These statistics depict the fatalities where death has occurred on a specific road type such as a motorways, urban or rural roads. In the road casualty report it provides:

In 2022, the majority of road fatalities occurred on rural roads, whereas the majority of all casualties occurred on urban roads. Although motorways account

for 21% of road traffic, they account for a much smaller proportion of road fatalities (6%) and casualties (4%). By contrast, rural road fatalities (59%) are over represented compared to the proportion of rural road traffic (44%). Similarly, urban roads account for a much higher proportion of road casualties (63%) than their relative traffic level (35%).

The statistics show:

Motorways – 100 killed

Rural roads – 1018 killed

Urban roads – 593 killed 


Continue reading Fatal Road Accidents Statistics

Mesothelioma Compensation Scheme Now £123,000

Mesothelioma Payout Compensation £123,000

Mesothelioma compensation payouts under the Government scheme for victims of the fatal cancer caused by exposure to asbestos. The scheme, which will start in April 2023, is funded by insurance firms and will pay an average of £123,000 to each eligible person or their family. The government has increased the payment from the initial £115,000 after making savings in the administration costs of the scheme.

The Dangers of Asbestos

Mesothelioma is often found in old buildings where pipes, boilers, heating systems, roofs, amongst many other places were used by asbestos famed for its protective heating properties. Many workers such as laggers, plumbers, building workers, contractors where exposed to this lethal dust over many years and many years ago.

What are the most common questions asked by families of an asbestos worker?

At Hutcheonlaw expert solicitors in mesothelioma compensation claims and payouts we have complied the list of the top 20 questions and answers to assist bereaved families in helping, supporting and claiming compensation for their loved ones.   However, the guidance on how to claim compensation for mesothelioma applies to all asbestos claims and is therefore not limited to mesothelioma.

What is Mesothelioma?

Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that affects the lining of internal organs, such as the lungs. It often takes 40 to 50 years to develop after exposure to asbestos, which was widely used in construction and manufacturing until the 1980s. As a result, many people who were negligently exposed to asbestos at work cannot trace a liable employer or an employers’ liability insurer to sue for damages. This leaves them with little or no compensation for their suffering and loss of income.

According to the latest available statistics, more than 2,700 people are diagnosed with mesothelioma each year in the UK1. Most cases are diagnosed in people aged 75 and over, and men are affected more commonly than women2. Mesothelioma is a rare and aggressive cancer that is caused by exposure to asbestos, a material that was widely used in construction and manufacturing until the 1980s3. Mesothelioma often takes 40 to 50 years to develop after first exposure.

Mesothelioma Payout Compensation £123,000

The Government scheme, which was passed by the Mesothelioma Act in January 2023, aims to end this injustice and provide financial support to about 3500 mesothelioma victims or their families over the next ten years or so. Applicants will receive around 80% of the average civil damages awarded in mesothelioma cases, which is significantly higher than the statutory schemes currently operated by the government. The scheme will also pay £7,000 towards legal fees to each applicant, who can apply directly without the aid of a solicitor.

In order to be eligible to claim mesothelioma compensation under the scheme you must first ensure that you cannot fine any insurance company that is still trading that was on cover during the years the victim was working for the company. Sometimes mesothelioma solicitors have to try and trace the insurer going back to the 1950’s.

There is a database that can be used that we have access to as a mesothelioma solicitor will undertake a thorough search before submitting a claim on your behalf. If an insurer can be found then the mesothelioma solicitor will then take action direct against the insurer via the company they insured. Please note it does to matter that the company that you worked for has gone bust, it is finding the insurer that matters.

However if not insurer can be found then a claim can be submitted under the Government mesothelioma scheme.

The Government Mesothelioma Compensation Scheme is expected to pay around 800 people in 2023 and 300 every year after that, until 2024. The claims handling company Gallagher Bassett has been appointed to run the scheme. The scheme is estimated to cost £380 million over its lifetime, which will be funded by a levy on insurance companies that provide employers’ liability insurance. The Work and Pensions Minister, Mike Penning, said that the scheme will end years of injustice for mesothelioma victims and their families, who have had to endure the terrible disease with little hope of any compensation from the insurance industry.

Mesothelioma after Death, How To Claim.

Tragically many workers exposed to asbestos dust that turns into diffuse (spread over a wide area) mesothelioma will die. The time period from when an asbestos worker was exposed to asbestos and causing breathing difficulties such as short of breath, coughing, discomfort, pain etc do not usually show themselves until after 40 or 50 years from when the worker were first exposed to the dangerous dust. It is a very slow time-line hence why when an asbestos worker seeks legal advice, if alive, they are often over 70 years of age, or if they have died they are often, again over 70 years of age and their partner or children seek advice on how to claim for mesothelioma compensation in the UK.

As mesothelioma compensation solicitors we not only offer expert legal advice on how to claim but offer a complete support package from helping with all the paperwork when a loved one has died from mesothelioma ranging from getting the court papers for probate sorted for you to helping with the financial affairs and everything in between.  We very much appreciate it is a trying and worrying time for all the family who have been bereaved and every solicitor and para-legal working on your case has been trained to ensure the best possible support and advice.

Mesothelioma Compensation for Family Members in the UK

Who Can Make a Claim for Mesothelioma Compensation?

If the worker is still alive, he/she can claim in their own right.  If they have sadly died, the family (usually the next of kin, partner, children of the deceased) can claim compensation. The claim will be made against the employer responsible for the illness. Common industries where mesothelioma can develop include construction, manufacturing, shipbuilding, mining and more. Symptoms generally don’t appear until several years or even decades after exposure. If the employer cannot be traced, the government operates a Diffuse Mesothelioma Payment Scheme, which offers financial support.

Family members can also make mesothelioma claims on behalf of the victim if they cannot themselves due to their illness or if they have passed. Other situations where someone may develop the disease and be eligible for compensation include family members with secondhand exposure, residents living near asbestos-related facilities, consumer products containing asbestos, and more. If you relied on the financial support or services of someone who has died from the disease, you could be entitled to dependency compensation.

 

Lets Celebrate Loved Ones We Have Lost

It’s Good to Talk and Celebrate Lost Loved Ones

It is reported that the Mexicans celebrate the lives of their loved ones by singing, dancing and parading in colourful costumes on the Day of the Dead. The Japanese honour their ancestors by carefully cleaning their graves during the centuries-old festival of Obon.

A movement centered on grief in the UK is urging Britons to break the taboo surrounding discussions about death and participate in Celebration Day, a day dedicated to remembering friends and family. The initiative, which takes place on May 28, aims to encourage reflection and keep the memories of loved ones alive.

Research conducted ahead of this year’s Celebration Day revealed various creative ways in which people remember their departed loved ones, including getting tattoos, running marathons, wearing their favorite football shirts, going on day trips to sentimental locations, cooking family recipes, and even having jewelry made from cremated remains.

The survey found that 77% of respondents believed it was important to celebrate and remember loved ones, with 85% expressing the view that such occasions should be positive rather than upsetting. Additionally, one in five adults expressed the desire to talk more about deceased family and friends, while almost two-thirds felt there were insufficient opportunities to come together and discuss loss.

Celebration Day seeks to promote simple acts of reflection that can create more positive associations with loss. The movement emphasizes the challenge to traditional notions of loss and aims to forge connections by keeping the lives of departed loved ones present.

Julia Samuel, a grief specialist and psychologist, highlighted the importance of discussing death and sharing stories, rituals, and memories of loved ones. She emphasized that having a dedicated day to talk about and remember the deceased helps individuals gain confidence and resilience in carrying their memories forward.

By encouraging open conversations and joyful celebrations with friends or private moments of reflection, Celebration Day aims to bring about a fresh perspective on grief and facilitate a healthier approach to dealing with loss in modern society.

Bereavement Award A Lottery To Claim

Why is the bereaement Award A Lottery?

What is a bereavement award?

In a civil law claim where a loved on sadly dies due to the wrongful actions of another, most typically where a driver of a motor vehicle kills another and is charged with offences such as causing death by dangerous driving or causing death by careless driving the bereaved families of can claim compensation under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 for a bereavement award.

Now for some reason only known to the Government that sets the laws and the amount of compensation that can be claimed for a bereavement award, the amount on offer is only meant to be a token value.  One could say that no amount of money can ever replaced a loved one.  However, there has to be reality here when someone is unlawfully killed in an act of pure recklessness on the road or disregard over  health and safety if an employee is loses his or her life at work.  But where you live in the United Kingdom determies who can claim and the amount that can be claimed, an article in The Times refers; Bereavment Compensation A Lottery

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What is the amount of a bereavement award? 

As mentioned above this is set by the Government and has increased from £12,980 to £15,120 for any fatal accidents that have occurred on May 2020.  The amount so unjust.

What is the post code award for a bereavement award?  Well those who lose a loved one in Scotland, it is reported can obtain substantially more than those bereaved families in England and Wales.  It appears that in Scotland they are  more sympathetic to those families who lose a loved one through no fault of their own. The Courts will assess the closeness of love an affection to the deceased an place a more reasonable award.

Who can receive a bereavement award?

This is also where the lottery of where you live plays a part.  In England and Wales the Fatal Accident Act 1976 is very restrictive as to who can claim a bereavement award.  For instance, where a parent loses a child in a road accident, the parent cannot claim for a bereavement award if the child is 18 years or older.  Makes not sense.  Similarly if a chid loses a parent, the child cannot claim a bereavement award, no matter how old.

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Why pay compensation for a bereavement award?

The question is why not?  If a family member is killed in an accident it causes a financial loss to the household in addition to the loss of love and support for the life time of the surviving partner and children.  Often the partner of the deceased will be unable to return to work for a substantial time (where the law says that they cannot claim for any loss of earnings by the way another unjust part of the laws that apply to England and Wales).  The amount does not justify the loss to the family left behind.  Further a larger bereavement award will also be

What is the lottery postcode for a bereavement award?

The Times Newspaper refers to the differnence in  laws between Scotland and England and Wales;

“There is a postcode lottery when someone is wrongfully killed in the UK,” says Sam Elsby, the president of the APIL which produced a report showing that “only a very rigid, prescribed list of relatives qualify for statutory compensation for their untimely loss in England, Wales and Northern Ireland”.

The association says that in Scotland “the law has no difficulty in recognising the closeness of different relationships”. But in the other UK jurisdictions unmarried fathers do not qualify for payments, and step-parents, parents of adults, brothers and sisters are left out. “It is woefully discriminatory and out of date,” Elsby says.

See also: List of family members who cannot claim a bereavement award

See also: Bereavement Award in Scotland

Why is the bereavement Award Unjust?

It is difficult why the law makers in England and Wales put such token amounts on the value of life.  It is because the motor injurers and employers liability insurers who are large multi international companies can lobby Government to keep payments to bereaved families low.

Because the bereaved families are vulnerable?  I say this because of the phone hacking scandal where celebrities can claim over £200,000 for ‘hurt feelings’ for someone listening in on their phone calls.  I have no issues with the award, but my issue is how does this compare to losing a loved one killed by another?  There is simply no comparison.

How can I instruct a Bereavement Award Solicitor?

Please only contact expert solicitors in this area.  A ‘personal injury’ lawyer is not usually the best solicitor to instruct unless they have a specialist interest in fatal accidents because the law of calculating compensation is different.  The unwary solicitor may fail to obtain the maximum result of bereaved families.

Please remember that it is not just a bereavement award that can be claim, there are many other aspects such as funeral costs, headstone costs, dependency claim and care and support claims that can add to a substantial amount.

Please contact us now for free support and advice: bereavement awards solicitors.

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Compensation For The Death of a Family Member

How to claim compensation for death of a family member.

The death of a family member caused by a fatal car accident or a fatal accident at work for instance is a traumatic time for all concenred. The Legal Authority to Make a Fatal Accident Claim for the death of a Family Member is currently under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 and the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934.

The Fatal Accidents Act 1976 makes it possible to claim compensation for the death of a family member in respect of a wrongful death. It enable entitles certain people to make a claim for compensation in order to reflect their loss of financial dependency on the deceased. The categories of people in tilted to claim could include spouses, civil partners and children of the deceased. However, the number of Dependants is not fixed it could range further than immediate family; it could also extend to siblings and grandparents.

The Dependants are usually the deceased ‘Next of Kin’ so the fatal accident claims are usually made by the same people. Dependents are able to claim for any loss any dependency including;

For more guidance and information Fatal Accident claims after the death of a family member check out our Fatal Accident Claims Guide.

Bereavement Award

Under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 a Bereavement Award is a personal injury claim made following the unlawful death of a person to the fault of another. Entitlement for a Bereavement Award is calculated on an individual case-by-case basis. To qualify for a Bereavement Award a claimant has to show they fall within a particular class of persons entitled and highlight how they have suffered or are suffering a loss.

Bereavement damages are most often paid where you may also hear the words ‘unlawful killing’ or where the death has occurred due to a criminal offence such as murder.

The Bereavement award is a one of payment of £12,980 to certain relatives of the deceased which is limited to the wife, husband or civil partner of the deceased. The exception to the strict criteria is where the deceased was a minor, in which case the deceased parents may be entitled to a bereavement award.
The amount of the Bereavement Award has increased over the last decades and historical figures for the Bereavement Award are;

£3,500 to £7,500 – 1 April 1991
£10,000 – 1 April 2002
£11,200 – 1 January 2008
£11,800 – 1 January 2012
£12,980 – 1 April 2013
£15,120 – 1 May 2021

This provision has been widely criticised, particularly in light of ‘the number of cohabiting couple families has increased faster than a married couple and lone-parent families, with an increase of 25.8% over the decade 2008 to 2018’ according to the Office for National Statistics. It is our firm belief that when a couple has cohabited for years and may even have started a family together it seems unjust to deny them the Bereavement Award solely on the basis that they have not entered into a legal marriage. As reported by the BBC the Law Commission previously suggested ‘cohabiting couples should be eligible for bereavement damages’.

For further guidance and information on the Bereavement Award after the Death of a Family Member check out our Bereavement Award – Guide 2020.

Dependency on Children in Fatal Accident Claims

The legal system sparks a grave injustice where children are killed in an accident where it is another’s fault.  Most such cased involved fatal road accidents where the child is a passenger in a vehicle.

The law ignores children from a compensation point of view.  It is as though they are worthless.  A child who is tragically killed in a road accident or other equally tragic event where the death or unlawful killing was the fault of another, the compensation for dependency is usually the following:

  1. Bereavement award.
  2. Return to parents of funeral expenses.
  3. Damage for personal items such as clothing.
  4. Compensation for any pain and suffering prior to death.

Due to the child’s age there is often no financial dependency upon the child by the parents or guardian responsible for looking after him/her and thus the loss of a child is quite often valued at £NOTHING, subject to a bereavement award. It truly is remarkable that this law is still in place today.

Fatal Accident Compensation for Cohabitees

As the Law stands, cohabitees are not able to claim for a Bereavement Award under the 1976 Act. However, as cohabitation is becoming increasingly regular amongst couples in the UK. The law is gradually adapting to accommodate these alterations to the usual household dynamic and provide greater protection for cohabitees; however, there are no immediate legal rights for cohabiting couples.

When a long term partner and cohabitee passes away at the fault of a third party the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 makes it possible for cohabitees to claim for compensation if they fulfil 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.

However, a person seeking to make a claim under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 are not only required to prove that they are living with the deceased but equally the permanence and stability of the relationship with the deceased. Evidence of the stability of a relationship includes things such as shared bills, bank accounts and other household arrangements.

Equally, to the internal nature of the relationship, the external nature will also be relevant; in other words, the nature to which the relationship was presented publically as living together in a long term sustained relationship. Brief periods of absence will not break the continuity of cohabiting if it is found that the deceased and the claimant did cohabit together regularly.

Legal Challenges for Fatal Accident Compensation for Cohabitees

The Law on Fatal Accident Claims after the death as the result of a third party may be set to change in relation to cohabitees after a recent ruling in the Smith v (1) Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (2) Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust and (3) The Secretary of State for Justice [2017] EWCA Civ 1916.

In the case Ms. Jakki Smith, the claimant and the deceased Mr. John Bulloch cohabited as man and wife between March 2000 and his death on 12 October 2011. Mr Bulloch died as a result of medical negligence of the first and second defendants. The defendants admitted the negligence but claimed that Ms Smith was not entitled to the Bereavement Award as the couple never officially married.

Ms. Smith’s legal team argued that in denying cohabitees from claiming the Bereavement Award, the High Court ruling dismissing her claim breached Article 8 and Article 14 of the European Convention of Human Rights. Ms. Smith argued that the legislation discriminated her as an unmarried woman. As Article 8 protects the right to respect for private and family life, home and correspondence and; Article 14 requires that all of the rights and freedoms set out in the Act must be protected and applied without discrimination; the law needs to take into consideration that cohabitation can and does give rise to intimate and long-term relationships which stand to be compensated for the grief experienced when one party dies due to the fault of a third party.

The Court of Appeals issued a section 4(2) declaration of incompatibility under the Human Rights Act 1998 to the effect that section 1A of the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 is not in accordance to the European Convention of Human Rights. This in itself does not change UK law it paved the way for parliament to amend the legislation through a joint committee to review the Fatal Accident Act 1976 with regards to cohabiting couples. On 8 May 2019, the Government laid a proposal draft Remedial Order to remedy the discrimination. However, as it stands cohabitees are not entitled to a Bereavement Award.

Claiming for Compensation For The Death of a Family Member

The law on the rights of cohabitees when one dies in an accident found to be the fault of a third party is gradually coming in line with the dynamic of modern families and the social acceptance of the legitimacy of cohabiting couples. Cohabitees may claim compensation for loss of dependency provided they are able to demonstrate that they lived in the same household as the deceased. Each case is judged with its own specific details but primarily the claimant must demonstrate that they were in an internally and externally stable relationship of sufficient permanence to be eligible. Currently, the Bereavement Award is not available for Cohabitees however, this will change but the time scale for this to be included within the law is undetermined.

Contact us to find out more about your compensation options.

The Factors Which Can Determine a Bereavement Award Claim

When it comes to claiming a bereavement award, there are a number of different factors which will affect whether your claim is successful or not.

Here is a round-up of some of the most common elements which will determine whether your  bereavement award payout is successful or not.

What Affects a Bereavement Award Claim?

To be successfully awarded a bereavement award, a court will have to consider the claimant’s relationship with the deceased. As it stands, an award can only be given to a spouse or civil partner of the deceased or, if the deceased is under the age of 18, their parents. The amount received is currently a total sum of £12,980 regardless of the specific circumstances surrounding the death.

Bereavement awards have continuously been the centre of arguments within the legal sector as many consider the payout and restricted eligibility as a symbolic sum rather than an accurate representation of the emotional and economic loss caused by the victim’s death.

There are various circumstances which make the award in its current state unfair. If the deceased is an illegitimate child under 18, then only the mother would receive a payout. If the deceased is an adult, then the parents would receive nothing. When both parents are eligible for the award, then both would only receive £6,490 no matter their pain, grief or suffering. Even worse, if a parent dies, then a son or daughter would not be eligible for a bereavement award. If a fatal accident occurred when a victim was still a child but they pass when they turn 18, then no award is payable.

There is hope and an ongoing fight to ensure that bereavement awards will eventually open up in the near future, providing people with the payouts they deserve no matter their relationship to the victim or the victim’s age at the time of death.

Our team of expert solicitors have dedicated experience in dealing with fatal accident claims including bereavement awards. Contact us today for free advice to see if you may be able to claim for a bereavement award.