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Bereavement Award and Cohabitees

  • Published: Wednesday October 28, 2020
  • Category: Claims Support
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On 06 October 2020 it became law that cohabitees could claim a bereavement award following the death of their loved one as a consequence of medical negligence.

A bereavement award is a type of compensation that has been set down in law to acknowledge the bereavement suffered by certain family members after a death caused by negligence. Since May 2020 this award is set at £15,120.

Before October 2020 only a spouse, civil partners or parents of a child under 18 were accepted in law as bereaved and allowed to claim the award. This limit has been clearly unfair for years. Relationships have changed in the 21st century and the longevity of a partnership is not always defined by a marriage or civil partnership certificate. Couples live together without being legally bound for years, sharing every aspect of their life including children and homes. Yet the law did not acknowledge these relationships in claims in negligence when one half of that partnerships passed away.

Finally, in 2017 the Court of Appeal acknowledged that not allowing cohabitees to be part of the group allowed to claim a bereavement award was against the European Convention on Human Rights (Jacqueline Smith v Lancashire Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust and Others in 2017). It took 3 years from the date of this case before the statute books were changed but now in the case of cohabitees at least, things are fairer. As long as a Claimant can prove that they lived with their partner for the 2 years immediately prior to their death it doesn’t matter anymore whether they were married or in a civil partnership.

If you have lost someone you love and are concerned that it may have been a consequence of medical negligence contact us. One of our specialist solicitors will be happy to discuss your concerns.