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Can I Claim Bereavement Compensation If We Weren't Married?29th Nov 2017

by Adrian Cormack on 29th Nov 2017

Contact Adrian Cormack


Until very recently the answer to that question was ‘no’ – but now that all looks set to change.

Before this week, only widows or widowers could claim the fixed sum of £12,980 in bereavement compensation if their loved one died as a result of negligence.

But unmarried couples didn’t qualify under the law. So people who lost their cohabitation partner due to negligence received nothing.

Now that distinction could be removed after an NHS worker from Lancashire won her legal battle for compensation following the death of her partner.

New Compensation Ruling

The Court of Appeal has ruled in favour of NHS worker Jakki Smith. She had been denied compensation after her long-term partner John Bulloch died following medics’ failure to diagnose an infection.

Ms Smith’s lawyers successfully argued that refusing her compensation – simply because she and Mr Bulloch were not married – was in breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.

They said the compensation should be available to anyone who had been in a relationship for two or more years.

Support For The New Compensation Ruling

There has been pressure for a change in the law on bereavement compensation for a number of years.

The Law Commission – which reviews the laws of England and Wales – had previously recommended a change. The government produced a draft bill in 2009 but it didn’t progress.

Now it looks as though the law will finally change after the new ruling.

Get Advice On Claiming Compensation – No Win No Fee

The £12,980 compensation discussed above is for bereavement – it does not stop you from claiming for other things such as physical and psychological injury, loss of earnings, care and equipment needs.

Have you suffered as a result of an accident or medical negligence? Find out more about claiming compensation. You can claim on a No Win No Fee basis so there’s no financial risk to you.

For accidents, contact Coles Miller Partner Adrian Cormack, head of the Personal Injury Department.

For cases of medical negligence, contact Coles Miller Partner David Simpson, head of the Clinical Negligence Department.

This document is not intended to constitute and should not be used as a substitute for legal advice on any specific matter. No liability for the accuracy of the content of this document, or the consequences of relying on it, is assumed by the author. If you seek further information, please contact Managing Partner Neil Andrews at Coles Miller Solicitors LLP.