National Bereaved Parents Day

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Wednesday 3rd July 2024 is National Bereaved Parents Day. Started in 2020 by charity, A Child of Mine, it honours bereaved parents and supports those who have been affected by the loss of a child.

In this blog, Emily Johnstone, Associate in our Medical Negligence team, looks at National Bereaved Parents Day in more detail and what help is available for those who have lost a child.

How can I mark National Bereaved Parents Day?

The aim of National Bereaved Parents Day is to bring together anyone affected by the loss of a child to show them that they are not alone. This year’s theme is Love Lives On and A Child of Mine has introduced a gift box that can be sent to bereaved parents who hold a baby or child in their hearts. The keepsake box includes an awareness ribbon, wristband and crocheted heart.

The charity is encouraging people to light a candle at 7pm on Wednesday 3rd July to remember all children who have lost their lives too soon. They are also asking people to share photos on social media to help increase awareness. 

What financial help is available for bereaved parents?

After the loss of a child, thinking about finances is often the last thing you want to do while you are grieving and coming to terms with what has happened.

The GOV.UK website has some really useful information about what financial support is available for families which takes some of that stress away.

Bereaved parents may be eligible to claim:

  1. A funeral expenses payment. This only applies if you or your partner receive or have applied for certain means-tested benefits. It might also apply if you receive Support for a Mortgage Interest loan. You must apply within six months of the funeral and can only claim for a child aged up to 16 years old or 20 years old if they were still in approved education or training.
  2. Child Benefit. You can usually continue to claim Child Benefit for eight weeks after your child’s death. However, if your child would have turned 20 years old before the eight weeks are up, then your Child Benefit will stop on the Monday after what would have been their 20th birthday.

Can I claim for my child’s death?

Sometimes families have concerns that their child’s death should not have happened and was caused by failings or negligence in their medical care.

Although claiming compensation cannot undo what has happened, families often want to make sure that what happened to their child doesn’t happen to anyone else. Making a claim can prompt improvements to procedures and patient safety. Financial compensation can also help cover funeral costs, or make up parents’ lost earnings as they take time off work to come to terms with their loss.

Our clinical negligence lawyers have experience representing bereaved families in fatal claims. They may also be able to help represent your family in the Coroner’s Court if there is going to be an inquest.

There are strict time limits for bringing a claim after someone has died. Usually, you need to start a claim within three years of the date of death.

Who can claim compensation?

Sadly, the law only allows certain family members to claim compensation after the avoidable death of a child.

The statutory bereavement award in England and Wales is currently capped at £15,120. This can only be claimed by the parents of a child who was under 18 years old when they died. You cannot claim the statutory bereavement award for the death of an older child.

Moreover, if the child was born to unmarried parents, then only their biological mother can claim the statutory bereavement award, not their biological father.

This leaves many fathers unable to claim any compensation after losing a child. The Office of National Statistics (ONS) figures estimate that more than half of babies born in England and Wales today are born to parents who are not married or in civil partnerships. This means more than half of fathers would not be eligible to claim the statutory bereavement if their child died.

The Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) has criticised this rule as unfair and out of date. Senior Associate, Fiona Dabell, previously wrote about the unfair treatment of bereaved fathers in England and Wales compared to Scotland, where each case is considered on its own merits.

We agree with APIL’s call for the next Government to reform the law in England and Wales so that this recognises modern family relationships and ensures that all bereaved parents are recognised.

Further information

If you believe that your child died as a result of medical negligence, or to find out more about compensation claims, call our specialist solicitors on 0117 325 2929 or complete our online enquiry form.


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