From the 1st May 2020, the amount that can be claimed in respect of bereavement, under the Fatal Accidents Act 1979, has increased from £12,980 to £15,120. It is difficult to explain to family members what this award represents. It is totally at odds with the recent compensation scheme set up for NHS workers who have died from Covid19 where the figure has been set at £60,000.
The payment is set by statute and is said to be in recognition of the dependents’ grief. The Government has referred to this a “token payment” but in reality there is no amount of money that can compensate a family for the loss of a loved one or the pain and suffering they have experienced, often in harrowing circumstances.
In Scotland those who have lost a loved one are able to explain the extent of their loss and how this has impacted upon them, which undoubtedly helps with the healing process. In England and Wales however, the ‘loss’ is based on a fixed amount which undervalues their loss by suggesting that everyone’s bereavement experience is the same and can be satisfied with a fixed amount of compensation.
Whilst an increase is a step in the right direction for the bereaved families, we have a long way to go before we have a sympathetic and meaningful bereavement award as seen in Scotland.