INCREASE IN FATAL ACCIDENT BEREAVEMENT AWARD FROM TODAY: A FEW THINGS TO NOTE ABOUT THE BEREAVEMENT AWARD
The bereavement award paid under the Fatal Accidents Act 2020 has increased to £15,210. However that increase only applies where the cause of action accrues on or after 1st May 2020. It has no relevance to ongoing cases, see The Damages for Bereavement (Variation of Sum) (England and Wales) Order 2020
THE STATUTORY BEREAVEMENT AWARD
A limited class of people are entitled to bereavement damages under s. 1A(2) of the Fatal Accidents Act 1976. This was increased to £12,980 when the death occurred after the 1st April 2013.
These are the wife, husband or civil partner of the deceased or the parents of a child who died under the age of 18. If the child’s parents are unmarried the father cannot claim bereavement damages.
A former wife, husband or civil partner and cohabitees cannot recover bereavement damage.
THE STATUTORY BEREAVEMENT AWARD DOES NOT SURVIVE THE DEATH OF THE PERSON ENTITLED TO RECEIVE IT
If the person entitled to the bereavement payment dies before the trial or settlement the payment does not survive for the benefit of their estate, s. 1A of the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934.
NOTE THE COMMON MYTH: THERE IS NO STATUTORY BEREAVEMENT AWARD IF A CHILD LOSES A PARENT
The bereavement award does not extend to children who have lost parents. Children are often awarded a sum for “loss of parental services”. However this is part of the dependency claim under the Fatal Accidents Act. The sums awarded under this head of damages are usually much lower than the statutory bereavement sum.
EXTENDING THE SCOPE OF THE BEREAVEMENT PAYMENT TO COHABITEES
In May last year the government discussed putting forward a draft remedial order.
This would extend the scope of the award to cohabitees who have been living together for more than two years.
I have not seen any indication that this has been implemented.