An article in The Times on Thursday 19th September 2013 “Bereavement damages a postcode lottery” appeared to indicate that parents whose children were killed in England could not recover damages for bereavement.
The article reads:
“If a child is killed, then parents in England and Wales will receive nothing at all — while in Scotland they are likely to receive thousands of pounds”
If this is what the article was saying (and I am aware of the vagaries that can be caused by sub-editors) it is plainly and clearly wrong. Parents whose minor children are killed in England and Wales can recover bereavement damages.
THE STATUTORY CLAIM
The entitlement to bereavement damages is statutory and set out in the Fatal Accidents Act 1976.
(1)An action under this Act may consist of or include a claim for damages for bereavement.
(2)A claim for damages for bereavement shall only be for the benefit—
(a)of the wife or husband or civil partner of the deceased; and
(b)where the deceased was a minor who was never married—
(i)of his parents, if he was legitimate; and
(ii)of his mother, if he was illegitimate.”
PARENTS OF MINOR CHILDREN ARE ENTITLED TO CLAIM BEREAVEMENT DAMAGES
It can clearly be seen that the parents of children under the age of 18 are entitled to the bereavement award. There are some anomalies:
- The father of an illegitimate child cannot claim.
- It has been held that the parents cannot claim if the child dies over the age of 18 even if the injury causing the death occurred before the child’s 18th birthday, Doleman –v- Doleman (CA 24th January 1990 – unreported).
PARENTS OF ADULT CHILDREN CANNOT CLAIM BEREAVEMENT DAMAGES
It is true (and I suspect that this was the point that the article was making) that parents of adult children who are killed cannot claim bereavement damages. However this is possible that they will be dependants and there are cases where damages have been awarded on that basis. See Davis –v- Bonner (unreported) 6 April 1995 and the case of Amin –v- Imran Khan discussed in detail at http://www.zenithchambers.co.uk/cms/document/GE___FATAL_ACCIDENTS_AND_FATAL_ERRORS.pdf
- The converse issue (that a child cannot claim a bereavement award if a parent is killed) is discussed at https://fatalaccidentlaw.wordpress.com/2013/09/12/death-of-a-parent-and-the-bereavement-award-what-can-a-child-claim/
- The statutory instrument dealing with bereavement damages is at