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Medical Fatality Claims: Death due to Medical Negligence


If you have lost a family member following a surgical procedure or recent hospital stay, or possibly a relative has passed away due to an illness that was not identified by their GP, then firstly, we are extremely sorry for your loss, and we understand the pain you must be feeling. We are on hand to help you and your family in a variety of ways.

We understand that considering a claim for compensation is likely not to be at the forefront of your mind at such a distressing and emotional time, and, that no amount of compensation can replace what you have lost. In cases where a family member dies unexpectedly and potentially due to errors with medical care, can mean the sense of injustice, loss, and distress can be hugely intensified. Where there is a feeling that death should have been avoided, or there is the knowledge that your loved one has somehow been let down by the system or the medical professionals entrusted with their care and safeguarding life, then this can be an emotionally traumatic time.

If the loss of your family member was avoidable and 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 immediate options and process. The need to seek professional legal advice may be more urgent if there is a young family to provide for,  and where the deceased had been responsible for earning much of the household income.

The medical negligence team here at Lanyon Bowdler handle every aspect of a medical fatality compensation claims in a professional and sensitive way. We have a long-established record of successfully securing justice for families and recovering compensation, and acknowledgement, that medical errors did occur and caused the death of a loved one.

Who can make a Medical Fatality Claim?

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 arise where 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 dependents

A claim can be brought by dependents of the deceased if they can show that they were, in fact, dependent or reliant upon the deceased in some way. Dependency essentially is a matter of fact and involves asking whether the dependent 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 dependent on that income.

Dependency can also cover things such as 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 tragically dies.

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. Dependents 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 dependent in a fatal accident claim.

Common Types of Medical Fatality Claim

Mistakes or omissions in the medical care that should be afforded to us all sometimes do occur, below are just some of the examples of the types of medical fatality case we see:

  • GP’s failure to diagnose worrying symptoms or failing to instruct the correct treatment
  • Surgical errors made during routine surgery
  • Anaesthetist errors that lead to an overdose of painkillers or that cause a lack of oxygen to the brain
  • Prescription of incorrect drugs or doses of drugs
  • Mistakes made in A&E
  • Insufficient protection or monitoring of a mental health patient who is a suicide risk
  • Cosmetic surgery complications
  • Contraction of a hospital infection by vulnerable patients (children and the elderly)

The list above is certainly not exhaustive. Often, we can add a great deal of value to the investigation surrounding the death of a loved one under the care of medical professionals. In some cases, an inquest may be sought, or a post-mortem may be required if the cause of death is unknown or disputed.

Above all else, we will help you get justice for your loved one and help secure the compensation and closure your family deserves.

Making a Fatal Accident Claim

As well as claiming damages for dependency, the Act also provides for a statutory award for bereavement. The categories of dependents 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 pay-out:

  • For deaths before 01 January 2008 - £10,000
  • For deaths on or after 01 January 2008 - £11,800
  • For deaths on or after 05 March 2013 - £12,980

Lanyon Bowdler Clinical Negligence Team Win 'Team of the Year' in Personal Injury Awards 2018

Lanyon Bowdler won the Clinical Negligence Team of the Year title at the Eclipse Proclaim Personal Injury Awards in Manchester, beating off competition from across the UK.

Kay Kelly, head of the team said: “This is absolutely wonderful news and is a fitting tribute to the expertise and dedication of our clinical negligence lawyers.

“Clinical negligence is a particularly sensitive area of law which makes a tremendous difference to people’s lives. A successful claim can be vital for the person’s recovery and future quality of life, so to be recognised as being the best team in the country for our work means a great deal.”



The team is both proud and delighted to have won this award. The winning video submission can be viewed below.



You can view the highlights from The Eclipse Proclaim Personal Injury Awards 2018 here.


Funding Your Claim

Please download our short guide about funding your claim.

Contact Lanyon Bowdler Solicitors

At Lanyon Bowdler, we understand that establishing the sum of compensation which can be claimed for death or fatal accident is very complex, and especially overwhelming at such a difficult and emotional time for the family of the deceased.

If you think the death of a family member was caused due to the negligent actions of doctors, or other healthcare professionals, or even due to procedural failings of the hospital trust at large, then it is likely you are entitled to make a Medical Fatality Claim.

Call us in confidence for friendly, confidential and compassionate advice when you are in need. There is no obligation on you or any charges for our initial assessment. We can help your family get the justice you deserve.

By choosing Lanyon Bowdler for any form of serious injury claim or medical negligence claim, you can rest assured that you have the best legal expertise on your team. Lanyon Bowdler's medical negligence team is widely acclaimed and recognised as one of the best clinical negligence departments in the country. We are committed to providing exceptional levels of client care and will work closely and considerately with you to help find the best outcomes and help to get your life back on track.

We have offices in Shrewsbury, Bromyard, Conwy, Hereford, Ludlow, Oswestry, and Telford, so can act for clients throughout Shropshire, Herefordshire, Mid and North Wales as well as across the Midlands (including Wolverhampton & Birmingham). As a leading UK full-service law firm, we can represent you wherever you live in England, Northern Ireland & Wales.



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