If you have lost a close family member in an accident, a legal claim will not be at the forefront of your mind and no amount of compensation can turn back the clock.
But if their death was the result of negligent medical treatment then it’s important to consider your options and talk to an experienced solicitor who can help you through the process.
The medical negligence team here at Lanyon Bowdler are capable of handling every aspect of a fatality compensation claim in an approachable, sensitive way.
Following a fatality or wrongful death, there are two types of medical negligence claim - the first is:
i) Claim on behalf of the estate
The executor, administrator or personal representative of the estate can claim compensation for the pain and suffering of the deceased, and their ‘loss of amenity’. This refers to the loss of the enjoyment of life, such as being unable to indulge in hobbies and interests.
Pain and suffering arises where the death has been caused by a disease or condition with a lengthy period of suffering.
If this ‘loss of amenity’, pain and suffering was a result of medical negligence, then a claim for general damages can be made. However, no claim for future financial losses can be brought on behalf of the estate.
ii) Claims by dependants
A claim can be brought by dependants of the deceased if they can show that they were, in fact, dependant or reliant upon the deceased in some way. Dependency essentially is a matter of fact, and involves asking whether the dependant had a prospect of obtaining a financial benefit or services from the deceased.
The most common example of this is when 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 therefore entitled to compensation for the loss of income. If he was self-employed it would be loss of profit. It is likely that their children would also be dependant on that income.
Dependency can also cover things like a company car or health insurance, and other fringe benefits associated with work. It may also include less tangible services - anything with a financial benefit, ranging from care, DIY or gardening to important matters such as the loss of a mother’s service when she is tragically killed.
As well as proving dependency, claimants must show they are 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 as the surviving spouse or cohabitee of the opposite sex, who has lived with the victim for more than two years, children or parents, or those 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.
As well as claiming damages for dependency, the Act also provides for a statutory award for bereavement. The categories of dependants who can claim the bereavement award 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 modest amounts to be recovered as a bereavement award in a medical negligence death payout:
Please download our short guide about funding your claim.
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.
Give us a call or complete our online enquiry form, to see how our medical negligence lawyers can help. We have offices in Telford, Shrewsbury, Oswestry, Ludlow, Bromyard and Hereford so are able to act for clients all over Shropshire, Herefordshire, Mid and North Wales and across the Midlands.
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