Families of people who have been needlessly killed are subject to a law which is out of touch and unjust, a Cambridge lawyer said today.
Solicitor Guy Forster was speaking as a newly-elected member of the national governing board of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL), a campaign organisation which is committed to injured people.
"It is shocking to see how out of date the law is for families of those who are wrongfully killed," said Mr Forster. "Many bereaved relatives are ignored when their loved one has been killed as a result of another’s negligence, such as in a car crash that wasn’t their fault, or at work."
The law in England and Wales only entitles spouses and civil partners; people who have lived together for two years or more; and married parents of children under 18 to claim bereavement damages. If the father of the child who has been killed is not married to the mother, he cannot claim bereavement damages. The law does not even recognise the importance of such relationships as parents of children over 18, siblings, or grandparents.
“The Government must act now to introduce greater flexibility and fairness to the law, and recognise that in our modern world there are many relationships in a family that matter," said Mr Forster.
"Grieving relatives have already lost someone when they should not have. When I then have to tell them that they are not entitled to the same bereavement damages from the wrongdoer that other relatives might be, they often cannot understand why the lives of their loved ones mean so little under the law.”
"I am honoured to have been elected onto APIL's national governing board and look forward to helping to fight for fairness for these families," he said.
Guy Forster is a partner at Irwin Mitchell and is the head of the medical negligence team in the Cambridge office.