The clinical and medical negligence solicitors at Lanyon Bowdler are capable of handling every aspect of a fatality compensation claim. We understand that no amount of money can turn back the clock, or ever truly compensate you for the loss of a close family member, however if negligent medical treatment led to their death you may wish to consider making a claim for compensation.
For more information about making a fatality compensation claim following an instance of clinical negligence, please contact Kay Kelly, Head of Clinical Negligence or one of her team on 0800 954 9936.
Making a Claim for Compensation
There are two types of medical negligence claim that arise after a death. The first is:
i) Claim on behalf of the estate
Under the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions Act) 1934, compensation can be claimed by the executor, administrator or personal representative of the estate. The claims which ‘survive’ derive from those available to the deceased before his/her death.
The first major claim is for the pain, suffering and loss of amenity of the deceased. Loss of amenity refers to loss of enjoyment of life, for instance being unable to indulge in hobbies and interests. Pain and suffering arises where death is not instantaneous for example, where it has been caused by a disease with perhaps a lengthy period of suffering. General damages are recoverable for pain, suffering and loss of amenity, endured by the deceased as a result of medical negligence. No claim for future financial losses can be brought on behalf of the estate under this Act of Parliament.
ii) Claims by dependants
Dependants of the deceased can also bring a claim under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976.
In order to claim under the Act, people must first of all show that they were in fact, dependant or reliant upon the deceased in some way. Dependency essentially is a matter of fact. It involves asking whether the dependant had a prospect of obtaining a financial benefit or services from the deceased. For instance if a man dies as a result of clinical negligence and his wife previously relied upon his wage to maintain a certain quality of life, she is entitled to compensation for the loss of income. If he was self-employed it would be loss of profit. As for any children, it is likely that they would also be dependant on that income.
Dependency also covers such things as fringe benefits associated with work, for example a company car or health insurance.
However, dependency may also include less tangible services. This can be anything which has a pecuniary benefit, so could include care, washing a car, DIY or gardening as well as important matters such as the loss of a mother’s service when she is tragically killed.
In addition to proving dependency as a matter of fact, claimants must also show that they come within one of the categories of people set out in the Act. This list has changed to reflect social developments over the years. Dependants are defined under the statute and include the surviving spouse or cohabitee of the opposite sex, who has lived with the victim for more than 2 years, children or parents, persons treated as children or parents, grandchildren or grandparents. The Civil Partnership Act 2004 must now also be taken into consideration by solicitors when determining who is a dependant in a fatal accident claim.
Fatality Compensation Resulting from Cases of Clinical Negligence
Compensation can be claimed in respect of the deceased's net contribution to the family budget including pension rights, together with a financial sum for services provided by the victim; these services may include childcare, domestic assistance, household repairs and gardening.
As well as claiming damages for dependency, the Act also provides for a statutory award for bereavement. The categories of dependants who can claim bereavement are limited. If a husband or a wife dies, then the remaining spouse can claim for bereavement. If a child dies, then the parents can claim for bereavement if the child is a legitimate minor. If the child is an illegitimate minor, then the mother alone can claim bereavement.
The law allows for the following amounts to be recovered as a bereavement award in a fatal accident compensation claim:
- For deaths before 01 January 2008 - £10,000
- For deaths on or after 01 January 2008 - £11,800
Contact Lanyon Bowdler
At Lanyon Bowdler we understand that establishing the sum of compensation which can be claimed for a death or fatal accident is very complex, and especially overwhelming at such a difficult and emotional time for the family of the deceased.
Please contact us if you are unsure of whether you are eligible to make a claim, or you would simply like further advice. For a free consultation with an experienced clinical negligence solicitor, call 0800 954 9936.