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The Telegraph’s legal expert, Solicitor Advocate Frank Maguire of Thompsons Solicitors is an expert at winning compensation for clients in personal injury cases. This week he explains the significance of a new Bill that will simplify court proceedings brought by the families of victims of wrongful death, like the 16 men who died in the recent North Sea helicopter tragedy.

A Bill was introduced into the Scottish Parliament on this week which aims to ease the burden on victims of ‘wrongful death’ and their relatives. 

Some examples of wrongful death include road accidents, workplace deaths and asbestos related cancer.

The Bill follows recommendations in a Scottish Law Commission Report that the ‘living expenses’ deduction, taken away from compensation given to the families of victims, should be fixed at 25%. 

This is a welcome change.

Under the present system a person’s income and expenditure are scrutinised in court until lawyers can agree on what percentage should be deducted. 

This very public scrutiny on private matters takes time, costs money and is clearly distressing for families who have already suffered the anguish of losing a loved one.

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

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 element of damage, thus reducing delays and speeding up settlements. 

It would also mean that insurance companies could no longer prolong court actions by wrangling interminably over minute details of a person’s income.

Finally it would make the proceedings less intrusive and reduce the stress to the person who is claiming in having to explain to the court how they live.

This bill clarifies, simplifies and modernises the law of damages for wrongful death.  It is a positive step forward for victims and their families.

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