The death of a loved one is difficult in any circumstances. Believing that their death may have been caused by errors, made by a healthcare professional, can be devastating at an already distressing time.

After the shock of bereavement has passed, some families find they have unanswered questions about the medical treatment a loved one received and some feel strongly that their death could have been avoided if they had received the right treatment.

We are here to advise you about the best way forward and whether you can seek compensation for their injuries and wrongful death.

Claims can arise in a variety of different clinical settings.

Examples of Treatment:

The list above is not exhaustive. Claims can be brought against a variety of health professionals. It might be a doctor failing to prescribe, a nurse failing in care provision or a pharmacist prescribing medication incorrectly.

Claim on behalf of the deceased’s estate

The executor, administrator or personal representative of an estate can claim compensation for the pain and suffering of the person who has died and their ‘loss of amenity’.

Pain and suffering arise where death has been caused by a disease or condition with a lengthy period of suffering and ‘loss of amenity’ is the legal term for lost enjoyment of life.

The executor can also recover funeral costs. No claim for future financial losses can be brought on behalf of the estate.

Bereavement Awards

Under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 a surviving spouse, civil partner or a parent of a child (under 18) are all eligible to claim a bereavement award.  The law has recently changed to include cohabiting partners who have lived together for at least two years.

If you meet the relevant criteria, you can claim a statutory bereavement award of £15,120.00. For families who have lost a loved one before 01 May 2020 the award is set at £12,980.00

Dependency Claims

If the deceased leaves behind people who relied on them for financial or services support, they may be entitled to make a claim as a ‘dependant’.

For example: X and Y are married with two children. If X dies as a result of medical negligence Y partner may be entitled to compensation for the loss of income (or loss of profit if the partner was self-employed) into the family. A claim may also include other losses connected to the X’s employment such as a pension, health insurance or company car.

There is also a provision for the loss of services X might have provided such as childcare, DIY or gardening.

Dependents are defined as the surviving spouse, cohabitee (who has lived with the deceased for more than two years), children or parents, or those persons treated as children or parents, grandchildren or grandparents.

Inquests

If a coroner opens an inquest into the circumstances in which a loved one has died it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. There is no obligation to instruct a solicitor to represent you at an inquest, but inquests can be complicated and lengthy and often overwhelming for the family involved.

We can assist in the preparation for an inquest and at the inquest itself.

Where cases concern issues of medical care we can put questions at the inquest to those responsible and try to get answers for the deceased’s family.

Time Limits

Families wishing to claim compensation have three years from the date of their loved one’s death. This only applies if the deceased person’s own claim was not statute barred before their death.

What are the next steps?

We understand that losing a loved one can be incredibly difficult. We are here to support you and have experience helping grieving families to bring a claim.  We can also help you to identify the most appropriate support services provided by charities and other organisation to assist you in other ways.

If you think the death of a family member was caused due to the negligent actions of healthcare professionals, or even due to procedural failings of the hospital trust at large, then please call us for confidential and compassionate advice.