Bereaved people in Scotland are treated more fairly when claiming damages for their loss than those in England and Wales, according to research carried out by the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL).
APIL has found that 80 per cent of respondents believe that the Scottish system for bereavement damages is fairer, prompting it to call for the law in the rest of the UK to be reviewed.
The majority of those surveyed said that the fixed sum is not high enough, with 57 per cent saying a figure of more than £100,000 would be appropriate. Many respondents also suggested that the list of people who should be eligible to receive bereavement damages should be extended to include, the parents of a child who is killed, regardless of age; children of the person killed, co-habitees and fiancés.
Matthew Stockwell, president of APIL, said that the body had been campaigning for the law to be changed for years as it was so far out of step with public opinion on the matter.
"It’s important to remember that we are talking here about bereavement caused by the negligence of another party," said Stockwell. "The fact that the death is needless can only increase the sense of pain and loss."
“At the moment in England and Wales, this is recognised by payment of a fixed sum of £12,980, paid by those who have caused the death. In Scotland, cases are taken on their merits, damages are generally higher, and the law is much more flexible about who can receive them.”
“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 law of bereavement damages is currently a postcode lottery and this needs to change.”