Personal injury lawyers have called for an end to the system of fixing bereavement damages.
The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) said it is unfair that damages are fixed at £12,980 in England and Wales, compared with Scotland where cases are taken on their merit and payments are often higher.
The sums are paid in certain circumstances to the husband, wife or civil partner – plus the parents of children aged under 18 – where someone has died as a result of negligence.
The Ministry of Justice increased the amount from £11,800 in March this year as an amendment to the 1976 Fatal Accidents Act.
APIL has now published the results of a survey in which 80% of respondents said the Scottish system was fairer, prompting calls for the law to be reviewed in England and Wales.
‘In Scotland, cases are taken on their merits, damages are generally higher, and the law is much more flexible about who can receive them,’ said APIL president Matthew Stockwell (pictured).
The majority of the 2,000 people surveyed thought the fixed sum is not high enough, with 57% saying a figure of more than £100,000 would be appropriate.
There was also support for extending the list of people who should be eligible to receive bereavement damages to include, for example, the parents of a child is killed regardless of their age, the co-habitee of the victim and the fiancé or fiancée of the person killed.
‘None of these people are eligible for bereavement damages in England and Wales, while most of them are entitled to claim damages in Scotland,’ Stockwell said.
‘It is particularly distasteful to me that parents of a child under the age of 18 should be entitled to bereavement damages but, once the child is 18, they are not. It is unnatural for a parent to suffer the loss of a child, and that loss is no less if the child happens to be over the age of 18.’
The survey, commissioned by APIL, was undertaken by Canadean Consumer Research through its online omnibus panel in August 2013.