Amendments to the FFA explained

The Fatal Accidents Act 1976 (Remedial) Order 2020 came into force on 6th October 2020. Our head of Personal Dispute Resolution, Greg Porter, explains the effect this has on the rights of family members to claim damages following the death of a loved one.

What is The Fatal Accidents Act 1976? 

Since the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 came into force, it has been possible for certain family members to claim the “statutory bereavement award” when they suffer the death of a loved one due to negligence, for example, following an accident or medical negligence.

People are often surprised that, until recently, the statutory bereavement award was only £12,980 and could only be claimed by the following people:

  1. The spouse or civil partner of the Deceased;
  2. The mother (and, if the parents are married, the father) of a Deceased child aged under 18.

There was no entitlement for an unmarried partner, no matter how long they had been together.

Changes in society, particularly the increase in the number of couples who chose not to marry, since the 1976 Act was introduced meant that the Act was widely seen as being out of date. 

Changes To The Fatal Accidents Act 1976

In a welcome move, the government has passed an amendment to the 1976 Act making the following changes: 

  1. The statutory bereavement award has been increased to £15,120 in respect of deaths that occur from 1st May 2020 onwards;
  2. In respect of deaths occurring from 6th October 2020 onwards, a cohabiting partner of a Deceased person is now entitled to the statutory bereavement award providing they had been living as the husband or wife of the Deceased for at least 2 years prior to their death and resided with them at the time of their death.

Although this is a step in the right direction, many people still consider the statutory bereavement award to be far too low and the category of people entitled to claim it far too narrow.

For example, despite the above amendments, it is still not available to the parents of a child aged 18 or over, the child of a deceased parent, the brothers and sisters or other relatives of the Deceased.

It should be noted, however, that it may be possible for people who do not qualify for the statutory bereavement award to bring a claim arising from the death of a family member (or a non-family member) where they were financially dependent upon them prior to their death.

Butcher & Barlow LLP

If you would like our advice about bringing a personal injury or clinical negligence claim arising from the death of a loved one, our personal injury or clinical negligence team will be able to assist. Please contact your local office and ask to speak to the Personal Dispute Resolution team.

Greg Porter can be contacted at our Northwich office on 01606 47523 or gporter@butcher-barlow.co.uk

Greg Porter