A recent report in The Times commented on the growing pressure on Ministers to extend eligibility for bereavement damages to all family members with a 'genuine close relationship' to the deceased person.
The law in England and Wales as it stands allows bereavement damages to be awarded only to spouses, civil partners, and parents of children under the age of 18. If the parents of a deceased child were not married only the mother can claim.
In 2017, the Court of Appeal ruled that the position was incompatible with human rights legislation because it denied damages to cohabiting partners who had been living together for at least two years prior to the death. This was taken further in May of this year when the government proposed amending the law to make bereavement damages available to such cohabiting partners.
Despite such proposals, many families will remain unable to claim any bereavement award to help ease the financial hardship following the death of a loved one.
MPs on the parliamentary rights committee have called for reforms to go further to include all family members who had a 'genuine close relationship' with the deceased, in order to reflect modern society and the decrease in the number of couples who marry.
Commenting on the developments, Steve Green, Partner and Head of the Personal Injury and Medical Negligence department at Fosters said "The government's proposals are a welcome and long overdue change and a step in the right direction; however, more needs to be done to ensure families are not left uncompensated at what is already a very difficult time".
If you have lost a loved one due to the negligence of someone else and would like advice on whether you may be able to bring a claim, please get in touch with our friendly team on 01603 620 508 or email us, for a free no obligation chat.