Unfair treatment of bereaved after Bill fails to progress in Parliament

28th January 2016

Unfair treatment of people injured or bereaved will continue after Bill fails to make progress in Parliament, warns law firm Furley Page

The unfair treatment of people injured or bereaved through no fault of their own will continue after an attempt to introduce a new Bill failed to make progress in Parliament, says one of Kent’s top personal injury lawyers.

The Negligence and Damages Bill was timetabled to receive its second reading debate on Friday 22 January. Introduced by MP Andy McDonald and supported by not for profit organisation the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, the Bill attempted to tackle unfairness in the law affecting people injured or bereaved through the fault of another.

A spokesman for Andy McDonald said it was one of a number of Private Member’s Bills due to be debated in the Commons chamber but the session ended before it was considered. The MP will attempt to get the bill debated again in several months but it has little chance of making progress due to lack of Parliamentary time, added the spokesman.

Neille Ryan, a Partner and Head of Personal Injury at Furley Page, says: “I’m very disappointed. This was a real missed opportunity to do the right thing. Not even the harshest critic could accuse these claimants of jumping on the so-called ‘compensation culture bandwagon’. We’re talking about accidents where people have died, for heaven’s sake!”

“The Bill would have resolved significant problems with the existing law. For example the damages for the death of a loved one, known as a ‘Bereavement Award’ are restricted to a frankly pathetic £12,980. A live claimant could easily get more for a broken wrist!” says Neille, who is a member of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers.

“The list of relatives who can claim that Bereavement Award is woefully short and excludes, for example, a civil partner, brothers or sisters, the deceased’s fiancé and even the parents if the child who passed away was over the age of 18.

“It’s ridiculous to suggest that a parent feels any less a sense of loss or is any less deserving of compensation just because their child dies a day after their 18th birthday.”

McDonald’s Bill would also have extended the list of those entitled to claim for psychiatric injury following the death of a loved one so as to include, for example, brothers and sisters.

Neille adds: “The current law is inflexible and unfair. The contrast with Scotland is stark – there each case is judged on its own merits. I deal with so many claims arising out of fatal accidents and it is heart-breaking having to explain to the family how low the compensation is for the death of a loved one, even worse when the family do not tick the right boxes so are not even entitled to that limited amount.”

Neille Ryan is top ranked by Chambers UK, an independent guide to the legal profession. He leads a Personal Injury Team which has extensive experience of handling all types of compensation claims, and an excellent reputation for representing whiplash victims. It is regarded as one of the best in Kent and is also top ranked by Chambers UK.

The team offers a free initial consultation to discuss your personal injury claim and detailed investigation of all options for funding accident claims – including ‘no win, no fee’ and damages-based agreements. For more information, contact Neille Ryan on 01227 763939.

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