A Guide To Making A Bereavement Award Damages Claim

By Jo Anderson. Last Updated 18th October 2023. Do you need to know what a bereavement award is and how you could apply for money after the death of a loved one? You might be wondering how to claim compensation after a fatal accident at work, on the road or in a public place.

A man holding a lily flower in front of a casket

When someone passes away as the result of negligence, their loved ones may be entitled to claim compensation. One of the payments that you might be able to receive is called a  bereavement award. Throughout this guide, we will look at what this award covers and who might be entitled to claim it.

We also offer you the chance to connect with a personal injury solicitor to help your claim. You can speak with a member of our sympathetic team using the details below:

  • Call for free, no-obligation advice about these claims on 0800 073 8801
  • Contact us online
  • Discuss your situation through our ‘live support’ option below

Select A Section

  1. When Could You Make A Fatal Accident Claim?
  2. What Are Bereavement Damages?
  3. Who Is Entitled To Claim A Bereavement Award?
  4. What Changes Were Made To Bereavement Award Claims In 2020?
  5. What Other Losses Could You Claim?
  6. How Much Are Bereavement Award Damages UK?
  7. How To Get Help With Bereavement Award Claims

When Could You Make A Fatal Accident Claim?

Before we look at bereavement damages, we should first explain what situations could lead to a fatal accident claim

If your loved one was owed a duty of care and this duty was breached, which caused their death, and you are considered an eligible relative, you could claim compensation. We’ll discuss who could be eligible to claim a bereavement award later on in this guide, but first, let’s explore when your loved one may have been owed a duty of care.

There are several parties that might owe your loved one a duty of care, including:

  • Their employer: Per the Health and Safety at Work etc. Act 1974, an employer has a legal duty to take reasonably practicable steps to keep their employees safe.
  • Occupiers: The controller of a public space has a duty of care towards those using the space for its intended purpose. This is per the Occupiers’ Liability Act 1957They must take steps to ensure their reasonable safety 
  • Road users: All road users owe each other a duty of care, meaning they must use the roads in a way that prevents harm to themselves and others. To do this, they must comply with the Road Traffic Act 1988 and the Highway Code.

If a relevant third party breaches breached a duty of care towards your loved one, and they suffer a fatal accident as a result of the breach, it may be possible for eligible relatives to claim compensation. This may include a bereavement award, as well as other damages, which we will discuss in a later section of this guide. Read on to learn more, or contact our team of advisors today to learn more about making a claim.

What Are Bereavement Damages?

Under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, bereavement damages are a type of compensation payment that can be included for relatives when making a fatal accident claim. A fatal accident claim can be made when someone passes away as the result of a breach of duty of care.

The Law Reform Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1934 also allows for the estate of the deceased to bring a claim for the pain and suffering of the deceased. However, compensation under both of these acts can be awarded in the same claim.

The bereavement award is a single flat sum of £15,120. It cannot be awarded to any loved one; we will look at who is eligible to receive this award below.

In order to claim this, you would need to show that the death in question happened because of negligence, which is a breach of duty of care. A duty of care applies in the following scenarios:

  • At work. A fatal accident at work could occur if an employer breached their duty of care and failed to provide appropriate personal protective equipment, for example.
  • On the road. All road users owe one another a duty of care. A breach of this could cause death by dangerous driving.
  • In public. Those with control over spaces that are accessible to the public owe a duty of care to visitors who use the space. A breach of this duty of care could lead to an accident in which someone loses their life.

For more information on claiming under the Fatal Accidents Act for a bereavement award, contact our team of advisors today.

Who Is Entitled To Claim A Bereavement Award?

Under the current legislation, the following people can apply for a bereavement award after the fatal accident causing the wrongful death of their loved one:

  • Wife or husband
  • Civil partner
  • Cohabiting partners who were together at the time of the death and had been living together for 2 years before the date of the death
  • The parents of a legitimate minor or their mother if they were born outside of marriage

Who Cannot Claim Damages For Bereavement?

The following groups are not able to submit a claim:

  • Parents of an adult child who is over 18
  • Children who have lost a parent (irrespective of the child’s age)
  • Siblings
  • Grandparents

There is a three-year time limit to make a claim which begins within 3 years of the date of death or 3 years from the date of knowledge. This is when you connected negligence with the death and could be after a post-mortem or inquest.

Get in touch with our team today to find out whether or not you could claim under the Fatal Accidents Act for a bereavement award.

What Changes Were Made To Bereavement Award Claims In 2020?

The bereavement award was last changed in May 2020 when Section 1A of The Fatal Accidents Act 1976 was amended. It was increased from £12,980 to £15,120 (The Damages for Bereavement Variation of Sum- England, and Wales, Order 2020).

This increase applies to deaths that occurred on or after 1st May 2020. Claimants who are being compensated for incidents that occurred before this date will receive the old award amount. The amount is divided if more than one person claims.

This change also extended the eligibility criteria to continually cohabiting partners of two years minimum prior to the death. In doing so, this amendment rectified an issue that was incompatible with the European Convention On Human Rights.

How To Prove A Claim Under The Fatal Accidents Act For A Bereavement Award

If you are making a claim for the bereavement award or any Fatal Accidents Act compensation, you will require evidence. Firstly, you will need to prove your relationship to the deceased. This is because only certain relatives can claim under the Fatal Accidents Act for the bereavement award. For example, you can submit a marriage certificate. We look at who qualifies for the bereavement award in the next section.

Additionally, you can only make a claim on behalf of the deceased if you can prove their fatal accident was the result of a third party’s negligence. We looked at situations where your loved one could have been owed a duty of care earlier in this guide.

Examples of evidence that could be helpful when claiming on behalf of the deceased include:

  • Accident footage. This could be from CCTV, a dashcam or doorbell, or a mobile phone.
  • The deceased’s medical records.
  • Witness contact information. Witnesses to the fatal accident can provide a statement later on.
  • Photographs of the accident scene. For example, a witness may have taken photographs in the immediate aftermath. These can be submitted.

Call our advisors if you need any help gathering evidence. In addition, they can assess whether you can claim for the deceased’s pain and suffering as well as other damages you might be eligible for.

What Other Losses Could You Claim?

As we have already mentioned earlier, the estate of the deceased can claim compensation for their pain and suffering, and for any financial impact that their injuries had.

You could also receive different kinds of damages as a loved one of the deceased under the Fatal Accident Act 1976. This could include:

  • Funeral costs if not already claimed under the Law Reform Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1934.
  • Dependency claim, for example, if you were financially dependent on the deceased’s income.
  • Loss of consortium. This compensates you for the loss of a special person, including loss of companionship.
  • Loss of services. If the deceased performed services, for example, taking children to and from after school activities or performing tasks around the home, then this could be considered when the claim is valued.

How Much Are Bereavement Award Damages UK?

As well as the statutory award amount of £15,120, a fatal accident claim could include compensation for the pain and suffering of the deceased. Legal professionals use a publication called the Judicial College Guidelines to help value this head of a claim. We have included some excerpts of these guidelines below.

Injury Guideline Bracket Notes
Death with add on claims With a value up to £550,000 and over Award covers pain and suffering of deceased as well as dependency payments
Quadraplegia £324,600 to
Various factors will influence the compensation award including awareness of condition and level of pain.
Paraplegia £219,070 to
Various factors will influence the compensation award including degree of independence and level of pain.
Psychiatric Damage- Severe £54,830 to £115,730 Significant mental health damage affecting all areas of the sufferer’s life
Brain Damage- Very Severe £282,010 to £403,990 The damage to the brain is very severe and the injured person will not be able to interact meaningfully with their environment.

Medical records might need to be examined in order to value the compensation for the pain and suffering of the deceased. For example, their hospital notes, the results of an inquest and a post-mortem could all be used to value this head of the claim.

For more information on whether you’re entitled to receive the bereavement award. speak with an advisor today.

How To Get Help With Bereavement Award Claims

Legal representation can help you apply for the bereavement award and any other damages you might be entitled to in a fatal accident claim. When a solicitor works under a No Win No Fee agreement (also known as a Conditional Fee Agreement) there are numerous immediate benefits at this difficult time. No Win No Fee solicitors:

  • Require no fee to retain their services
  • Take no payment as the case proceeds and they work on your behalf
  • Will take a legally-capped success fee from your settlement in the event that it is successful

If your claim loses, you won’t pay this success fee to your lawyer.

With this in mind, why not get in touch to learn more about how we can help you arrange a No Win No Fee agreement? Please feel free to:

  • Call for your no-obligation consultation on 0800 073 8801
  • Contact us online and we can call you back
  • Use the ‘live support’ option below

Fatal Accident Claim Resources

As well as advice and information on the bereavement award, the resources below offer further help on this topic. Therefore, please read:

If you have any more questions about making a bereavement award claim, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Guide by JW

Edited by FS