The Damages (Scotland) Act 2011 – Victims of wrongful death

The compensation lawyers at Thompsons Solicitors are passionate advocates of reforms which help make the law fairer for personal injury victims and their families.

One reform that has helped make things easier was a bill introduced into the Scottish Parliament by Bill Butler on 29 April 2009. The bill aimed to repeal the complex nature of the Damages (Scotland) Act 1976 and ease the burden on victims of ‘wrongful death’ and their relatives (examples of wrongful death include road accidents, workplace deaths and asbestos-related cancer). This bill was passed on 3 March 2011 as the Damages (Scotland) Act 2011.

What the Damages (Scotland) Act 2011 meant for personal injury law

The Act followed a report released by the Scottish Law Commission Report back in September 2008, which recommended that the ‘living expenses’ deduction (which is taken away from loss of support compensation given to the families of victims) should be fixed at 25%.

In this context ‘living expenses’ relate to the percentage of a deceased person’s earnings that are subtracted from a compensation payment to represent money the deceased would have spent on themselves.

Up until the introduction of the Act, a deceased person's income and expenditure were scrutinized in court until lawyers could agree on what percentage should be deducted. The income of the surviving partner or spouse was also taken into account. This very public scrutiny of private matters took time, cost money and was clearly distressing for families who had already suffered the anguish of losing a loved one.

The purpose of the 25% fixed deduction was to put an end to this excessive scrutiny. Speaking back in 2009, Butler explained that he hoped “by standardising the assumed living expenses of victims in wrongful death cases, we will avoid a great deal of distress for victims and expense for employers in unnecessary litigation”.

As well as the introduction of the fixed percentage, the Damages (Scotland) Act 2011 has also meant that the surviving spouse or partner's income is no longer taken into account while the compensation is being calculated.

Thompsons, supporting the families of victims

Butler's efforts were praised by many prolific names in personal injury law, including Thompsons' former joint managing partner and Solicitor Advocate Frank Maguire, who said, “Not only would this be just but it would also ensure that, in avoiding all of these debates on evidence and law, the case would be fairly automatic in terms of calculating this head of damage, reduce delays and speed up settlements. It would also minimise the hardship to the person who is claiming in trying to explain to us how they live.”

At Thompsons, we do whatever we can to help the victims of personal injury and their family. We work with trade unions and pressure groups to campaign for changes to the law whenever we feel it necessary. We are always pushing for ways to reform the law that, like the Damages (Scotland) Act 2011, strive to make it fairer for everybody.

We care about helping others, having represented victims involved in some of the country's most devastating tragedies, including The Penrose Inquiry, the Stockline Plastics Disaster, and the Clutha pub helicopter crash. We bring the same passion and dedication demonstrated in these high-profile cases to each and every client.

Call our personal injury solicitors today

If you've suffered a personal injury or illness as a result of the actions or inactions of another, you could be entitled to compensation. Our years of experience and honed expertise means that we're well-equipped to help you no matter the nature of your claim.

We always aim to minimise our fees as much as possible, with a No Win No Fee option available to many of our clients. So, to find out how much you can claim, call Thompsons today on 0800 0891 331.

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