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Medical negligence cases involving the death of a loved one

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Medical negligence cases involving the death of a loved one

Possibly one of the most difficult types of case our medical negligence solicitors deal with is when a client approaches us for help and advice where a family member has passed away.

These cases are always emotionally tough for the clients. Adding litigation into the mix is usually a huge step to take.

My blog this week is therefore a basic overview to help demystify the process.

First of all, we are human, and we recognise that these types of claims are incredibly difficult for clients and their families to deal with. We understand that there are times clients feel unable to deal with the case straight away and may need more time to process the information when we are giving you advice and asking for information.

In terms of the process, the first thing we need to work out is who is the correct person in law to bring the claim. If there’s a Will, then it’s the executor of the Will that will usually bring the claim on behalf of the beneficiaries of the estate. If there’s no Will, it’s usually the surviving spouse, or a parent, that can bring the claim. It can get more complicated, and if your situation is different, we will be able to guide you through that process. You may also be required to obtain a grant of probate.

The next stage is to sort out funding, which is usually reliance on an existing insurance policy, or a “no win, no fee” agreement. Each client’s circumstances are different, so we’ll work through that with you too.

Then we get to work asking for copies of the deceased’s medical records and if there’s been an inquest, we will need those documents also, along with the death certificate.

In terms of the claim, we need to prove two things for a successful claim: (1) substandard care, and (2) an outcome that resulted in the death that would have been avoided had there not been substandard care.

We do this by asking independent medical experts to look at the deceased’s records. They’ll consider those two points above and give us advice as to whether there’s a claim.

If there is a claim, we can put this case to the defendant and invite them to admit liability. If it is admitted, we will request compensation and negotiate resolution of your claim. If liability is not admitted then we may need to start court proceedings.

If the expert evidence supports the case, we will look to claim damages which can include:

  • A bereavement award 
  • Funeral expenses, wake, headstone
  • Compensation for the deceased’s pain and suffering before they died
  • Any losses relating to care provided to the deceased before they died, such as travel, parking, medication, care and assistance
  •  Any losses arising from the death, for example, loss of earnings and/or pension, loss of services to someone else.

This list is not exhaustive and is just to give you an idea of the items we would consider claiming for.

At the end of the day, we know these claims are emotionally charged. Our aim is to support you, deal with the claim compassionately, and to look to get the cases resolved as swiftly as possible, avoiding court proceedings if we can.

We would encourage anyone touched by the death of a loved one to reach out to bereavement services who are able to provide support, such as the ones below:

If a loved one has died due to the negligence of a medical or health professional then we may be able to help you pursue a claim for compensation. Our leading team of experts are on hand to offer advice, so please get in touch with us on 0161 696 6165 or complete our online enquiry form and we will contact you directly.

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