My firm recently had to turn down a personal injury claim because the damages likely to be recovered were too low to justify solicitor involvement. Why? Because the injured person had been killed.

So, a message for all you reckless drivers and negligent employers, if you are going to cause injury to someone, better to kill than maim.

The claim we declined related to the death of a young man in custody. His bereft mum contacted us following a damning prison ombudsman’s report that identified a number of failings on the prison service’s behalf towards this young man.

So why, when there was clearly negligence, was there no claim?

The young man was an adult, therefore his mum and dad did not have a claim for bereavement damages, which are only paid to parents of minor children. Neither were they dependent on their son, nor did they consider they were ever likely to be.

A further head of claim is damages for the pain and suffering of the deceased. While the circumstances of his death are not precisely known, it appears he passed away in his sleep, so possibly suffered no pain.

Finally, the cost of the funeral is a legitimate claim in most cases involving a fatality. However, the one redeeming action of the prison in this claim is that it paid for the funeral.

So, for the parents, no claim of any value to pursue.

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers is campaigning for a review of fatal accident claims, primarily relating to an increase in the statutory sums payable, but also to widen the categories of those who benefit following the death of a loved one.

Diane Parker, partner and head of personal injury, Atherton Godfrey, Doncaster