Compensation for families whose loved ones have been needlessly killed in Northern Ireland is ‘wretchedly inadequate’, say lawyers as they urge for the level of payment to bereaved families to be increased.
On Monday 5th October 2015, the Department of Justice (DOJ) launched a consultation about whether the level of bereavement damages, which currently stands at £11,800, should be increased.
Martin Hanna, NI representative of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) and partner in Francis Hanna & Co Solicitors says:-
“Bereft families deserve better from the justice system when their loved ones’ deaths could and should have been avoided. As it stands, the payment is wretchedly inaccurate, so we welcome any progress on rectifying this”.
“Bereavement damages in the UK are a lottery based on where the death happens. The level of payment is at its lowest in Northern Ireland at £11,800, and is nearly £1,200 more in England and Wales. In Scotland, the system is much fairer, with each case judged and evaluated on its own merits.”
The DOJ consultation paper says that any increase in the payment should either bring Northern Ireland in line with England and Wales at £12,980, or with the level of inflation, estimated at £14,339.
Mr Hanna added:
“No amount of money can ever replace a loved one, but bereavement damages do at least acknowledge that a death has been caused needlessly. This issue with the level of payment is not about replacing what is lost, but about looking after those left behind,”
The DOJ consultation closes on 30 November 2015
If you would like to learn more about the consultation paper, it can be found at http://www.dojni.gov.uk/index/public-consultations/current-consultations/bereavement-damages-consultation.pdf