December 2, 2019

The statutory bereavement payment – is it the only compensation available after someone dies from negligence?

One form of compensation that we get asked about is the ‘statutory bereavement payment’ and whether or not a client will be eligible. This blog will explain what this is, who is eligible, and what other forms of compensation you might receive if someone has died following negligent treatment or care.

What is a statutory bereavement payment and will I receive one?

If a loved one has died due to the negligence of a professional, such as a GP, hospital, care home or even in prison or police custody, then if you bring a claim you may be eligible for a statutory bereavement payment.

This compensation payment is a fixed amount that is set by the government. In England and Wales the amount is £12,980 although in Northern Ireland the amount is £15,100. We wrote about the discrepancy between Northern Ireland and England in a previous blog post that you can read here.

Unfortunately, only certain people are eligible to receive an award when someone has died. This is limited to:

  • the husband, wife or civil partner of the deceased
  • the mother or parents of a child under the age of 18 who has died.

As this is set in law, unless you fit these criteria, you will not be eligible for this compensation payment. If you are within these criteria, then if you bring a successful claim, this payment will be included in your compensation.

What other compensation is available when someone dies?

Even if you do not fit the strict criteria for a statutory bereavement payment, there are a number of other ways that compensation is given after someone has died.

Firstly, if you were dependent – either financially or in any other way – on the person who died, you can get compensation for your losses. This does not mean you have to have been solely dependent on them, but if they were contributing to your household in some way, then this can be included in a claim. This could have been through their income, pension, or, for example, by providing care to a relative or child or doing DIY, gardening or other household tasks.

Secondly, you are able to claim any funeral expenses that you had to pay. This can include reasonable expenses for additional costs such as a headstone. You are also likely to be able to claim reasonable costs for a wake, although these costs are not always awarded so you may not be reimbursed in full.

Finally, you may be able to claim for the losses that the deceased suffered in their lifetime between the time of negligence and the time of their death. This is split into two categories: financial losses and compensation for pain and suffering.

Financial losses would be any losses that the deceased suffered, such as if they would have been working but the negligent care meant that they were no longer able to work prior to their death. You may also be able to claim for any care or assistance that you, or family members or professionals provided to the deceased prior to their death.

You can also make a claim for the pain and suffering that the deceased suffered between the date of the negligence and the date of death. The value of this award will depend on the length of time between the death and negligence and is calculated based on what has been payed in previous cases of a similar nature. It is a very fact-specific payment and hard to quantify without knowing the details of a case.

How do I know if I have a negligence claim after someone has died?

The best way is to speak to one of our team and explain what has happened. One of our solicitors will then assess the case and consider whether or not you may have a claim.

To find out more, please visit our fatal claims page for more information and to get in touch.

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