Medical Negligence Causing Death – Your Legal Rights

Medical Negligence Causing Death – Your Legal Rights

Despite the incredible advances in medical care and treatment and the dedication of healthcare professionals to their patients, human frailty being as it is means that mistakes can happen and in the most tragic scenarios, medical negligence can cause death. For those left behind, often fear intensifies their grief, especially with the current cost of living crisis. If the deceased was the main earner in the family, those left behind are usually worried about how they will cope financially, even if there is a life insurance policy in place.

Family members may also be left with feelings of anger at the pain and suffering endured by their loved one before their death because of negligent medical treatment or their disease being un/misdiagnosed.

Although nothing can bring back a loved one, making a claim for wrongful death due to medical negligence can:

  • Provide compensation for dependent family members, freeing them from financial worries.
  • Trigger an investigation into the cause of death. Although most claims are settled out of court, bringing a compensation claim provides families with an opportunity to hold the healthcare provider to account and (hopefully) prevent such negligence happening again.
What are some examples of medical negligence causing death?

Various types of medical negligence can result in the death of a patient. Examples include:

  • Failing to diagnose or misdiagnosing a serious illness such as cancer. In such cases, by the time a correct diagnosis is made it is too late for effective treatment. These types of cases can often result in the patient suffering unnecessary pain and loss of dignity.

  • The patient was not admitted to hospital when they should have been, for example in the case of a brain haemorrhage, heart attack or pulmonary embolism (blood clot).

  • A surgeon makes a mistake during an operation resulting in the patient’s death.

  • Wrong or incorrect doses of medication being given.

How is a medical negligence causing wrongful death claim structured?

There are two elements to a death resulting from medical negligence claim:

  • Pain and suffering experienced by the deceased before their death, brought by their estate.

  • The family’s claim for the financial impact of the death.

Estate claims for wrongful death due to medical negligence

A right to make a compensation claim for pain and suffering continues after the patient’s death. The Executor of the deceased’s estate can file a claim for compensation. If the claim is successful, the compensation award will become part of the estate and be distributed amongst the beneficiaries.
If the deceased died without a Wiil (known as dying intestate), an application for a Grant of Letters of Administration can be made by family members. Once this is approved, the Administrator can proceed with bringing a medical negligence compensation claim.

Claims for financial loss by the family

The financial impact of an unexpected death due to medical negligence cannot be underestimated. Even if the deceased was not the main earner, the shock and stress of bereavement can mean that the surviving partner cannot work for some time. If young children are involved, the surviving parent will likely need to reduce their working hours to support them through the grieving process and meet their needs as a single parent.

As well as loss of income, a claim can be made to cover funeral expenses and other costs associated with wrongful death caused by medical negligence.

Do I have to bring a claim within a certain timeframe?

The Limitation Act 1980 provides that a medical negligence claim must be brought within three years from the date the Claimant first became aware of the negligence. Remember, in cases of wrongful death, the Claimant is the Executor or Administrator or the family of the deceased.

It is crucial to contact a Medical Negligence Solicitor as soon as you discover that the deceased may have been a victim of medical negligence as these types of claims can be extremely complex and may take two to three years to complete.

How is medical negligence causing wrongful death proved?

To prove medical negligence caused the death of a person, the Claimant must prove, on the balance of probabilities, that the healthcare provider (normally an NHS Trust):

  • Owed them a duty of care,

  • Breached that duty, and

  • The death was caused by the breach of duty and was a foreseeable consequence of the breach of duty.

An experienced Medical Negligence Solicitor will carefully listen to your story. They will then collate, analyse, and present evidence that proves your claim. Evidence is gathered from sources such as:

  • Witness statements.

  • Experts in the area of medicine in which the deceased was or should have been treated for (known as expert evidence).

  • Medical records.
  • The Coroner’s report (if applicable).
  • The autopsy report (if performed).

The above list is not exhaustive.

Inquests can be intimidating for family members. Your Medical Negligence Solicitor can represent you at the inquest or appoint a Barrister to do so.

Wrapping up

Death due to medical negligence is a catastrophic outcome. We understand how devastated you are and we will work tenaciously and compassionately to get you the compensation you need to cover your future financial needs and achieve some form of justice for what has happened.

Our team has decades of combined experience in successfully advising and representing clients in clinical negligence cases. We are sympathetic, understanding, and are here to help you every step of the way.

Call us on 01 625 667166 or email us today to discuss your claim.


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