Fatal Medical Negligence Claims
While most healthcare is of a very high standard, a serious mistake made during medical treatment can result in a patient losing their life. In such circumstances, bereaved family members must seek legal assistance to help them obtain compensation when a loved one has died due to medical errors, known as fatal medical negligence.
At JMW, our solicitors know just how devastating medical errors can be, and we are fully committed to assisting you to claim compensation, which we can do on a no win, no fee basis. This can help you and your loved ones cope with funeral expenses and the financial consequences of your loss. We understand what a difficult time you are going through, and will offer invaluable support and guidance on how to make a successful claim for compensation.
If the death of your loved one is subject to a coroner's inquest, our team can support you through the process and ensure that you are represented at the inquest hearing.
If you have been bereaved due to medical negligence, or require expert representation at a coroner's inquest, JMW is here to help. Call our medical negligence team on 0345 872 6666, or complete our online enquiry form to discuss your situation with us. We are able to take on cases on a no win, no fee basis.
To make a claim for a fatality that was caused by the negligent behaviour of someone other than a member of medical staff, visit our personal injury department.
How JMW Can Help
Our expert team of medical negligence lawyers is highly experienced in dealing with fatal medical negligence claims. We have dealt with fatal medical negligence cases caused by many different circumstances, and will always provide a caring, sympathetic service.
We understand how difficult, daunting and complex it can seem to make a compensation claim in such terrible circumstances, which is why we are here to make the whole process as simple and hassle-free as possible. We are also able to take cases on using a no win, no fee agreement, which takes away any worries about how you will afford legal fees, while also offering protection.
Similarly, if you require representation at a coroner's inquest, we will provide you with all of the support and legal guidance you require, by taking a professional and personal approach to delivering the answers you need.
Families understandably want explanations and closure whenever something happens to a person in the care of a medical professional, especially in the event of death due to hospital negligence. Our solicitors will help you to achieve this, while ensuring that any medical professionals found to be providing negligent medical care are held responsible for their actions. In turn, this allows corrective steps to be taken to prevent the same thing from happening to anybody else.
The fatal medical negligence claims team is headed by leading solicitor Eddie Jones and is widely considered to be one of the best, most qualified and most successful medical negligence departments across England and Wales. Members of the team form part of the Action against Medical Accidents (AvMA) solicitors panel and the Law Society's specialist panel for clinical negligence solicitors.
By choosing JMW Solicitors, you can rest assured you have an experienced, professional and understanding medical negligence team in your corner that will ask the right questions, and work tirelessly to help you get the answers you are looking for when making a fatal medical negligence claim.
Additionally, we work on a no win, no fee basis, also known as a conditional fee agreement. This means you will not have to pay any legal fees if the case is unsuccessful.
When Can I Make a Fatal Medical Negligence Claim?
You may be entitled to make a claim if a loved one or family member has died as a result of negligent treatment decisions or mistakes made by doctors, nurses, surgeons or other healthcare professionals.
Examples of medical negligence resulting in wrongful death may include:
- Delays in medical diagnosis or misdiagnosis of serious health conditions, resulting in the death of the patient
- Delays in hospital referrals, meaning the patient did not receive the timely medical intervention they needed to survive
- Mistakes made during treatment, such as medication errors or surgical negligence resulting in death
- Negligent treatment during childbirth, resulting in the death of the mother, child or both
By making a clinical negligence claim, you will give yourself the best chance of discovering what happened and why. If it arises that the death may have been avoidable and was caused by negligence on the part of a medical professional, you may have grounds to make a legal claim against those responsible.
Who is Eligible to Make a Claim for Fatal Medical Negligence?
You may be eligible to claim compensation for fatal medical negligence if you are:
- A husband or wife of the deceased
- A civil partner of the deceased
- A person who was cohabiting with the deceased for at least two years prior to their death
- A parent or child of the deceased
- A person who was treated by the deceased as his or her parent
This is not an exhaustive list, which means you could be entitled to make a claim if you can demonstrate that you were practically or financially dependent on the deceased. If you are unsure about whether you qualify, it is best to speak to a specialist medical negligence solicitor for guidance.
Why Make a Fatal Medical Negligence Claim?
We understand that while nothing can repair the emotional pain of losing a loved one, a successful compensation claim can help to ease the financial difficulties that often accompany a bereavement, especially if you were financially dependent on the deceased.
Compensation awarded for medical negligence claims can help to cover the funeral costs, medical fees and living expenses of those left behind, which will help to alleviate some of the difficulty and feelings of unfairness that will inevitably accompany cases of death due to medical error.
As such, if you bring a case for medical negligence, it can help you avoid potential financial issues and reduce some of the stress you will be dealing with, bringing your family a step closer to getting back to normal life.
What is the process for claiming compensation for a death caused by medical negligence?
For those making fatal medical negligence compensation claims after the death of a loved one, the process will work as follows:
- Contact our specialist team of medical negligence experts to arrange a free initial consultation. During this conversation, we will discuss the details of your case, work out how strong your claim is and outline the next steps
- We will obtain the medical records of the deceased, and review them to get further insights into the circumstances of their death
- We will speak to leading independent medical experts to assess the information from the medical records, and determine whether the standard of medical care your loved one received played a role in their death
- Once we have collated all of the evidence, we will put forward a letter of claim to the healthcare organisation we believe is responsible for the negligence, and we will continue negotiating with them until we have reached an agreement on what went wrong.
- If the healthcare trust accepts that mistakes were made, we will then investigate how much compensation you are entitled to. We will negotiate with the other party until they agree to provide compensation in what we feel is an acceptable amount. We will only ever advise you to accept an amount that is appropriate for you.
- Even if the healthcare organisation does not initially admit any wrongdoing, we will continue to fight your case, as long as our independent experts remain supportive of it.
No matter the circumstances of the case, we will always strive to bring your claim to as swift and stress-free a conclusion as possible, and to secure the maximum amount of compensation that reflects the pain and suffering you have experienced after the death of your loved one.
What Happens in a Coroner's Inquest?
In most cases where someone dies, a GP or hospital doctor will issue a medical certificate indicating the cause of death. They will send this to the registrar of births and deaths, who will then issue a death certificate. However, in some cases, the death may be referred to a coroner.
This might happen if the death:
- Followed an accident or injury
- Occurred during surgery
- Was the result of an industrial disease
- Was unnatural or violent
- Had no explainable cause
- Took place in prison or police custody
From here, the coroner may go on to perform a post-mortem to find out more about the cause of death. This will be followed by a coroner's inquest, which is a legal inquiry, held in public, into the reason for and circumstances of the death. The purpose of an inquest is not to apportion blame, but to answer the following questions:
- Who died?
- When did they die?
- Where did they die?
- How and in what circumstances did they die?
The result of the coroner's inquest can be used as evidence that will help your fatal medical negligence case to succeed, making this an important part of the compensation claims process.
How We Can Represent and Support You During a Coroner's Inquest
A coroner's inquest is often a highly emotional experience for relatives of the deceased. It is also unlikely that family members will know the correct procedure for questioning witnesses. This can sometimes lead to a feeling that their concerns have not been adequately addressed during the inquest procedure. By asking JMW Solicitors to provide you with legal representation at the inquest, you can ensure not only that your questions are put to the witnesses, but also that, where appropriate, information regarding a potential negligence claim is gathered.
Often, family members wish to see someone held accountable for their loved one's wrongful death and receive assurances that similar deaths will not occur in the future. However, a coroner cannot make a finding of criminal or civil liability, or apportion blame for a death. The purpose of the inquest is for the coroner, sitting alone or with a jury, to conclude how someone died.
There is a range of conclusions available to a coroner, including traditional 'short-form' verdicts, such as accident/misadventure, stillbirth or suicide. It is becoming increasingly common for coroners to reach a narrative conclusion, which briefly summarises the facts about the death. In some circumstances, a coroner can make factual findings of any failures in care.
Although a coroner cannot decide that a person or organisation has been negligent, they may conclude that neglect contributed to a death. In the context of a coroner's inquest into the death of someone in a healthcare setting, neglect means there was a gross failure to provide basic medical attention to a patient in need, and that this failure played a part in their death. All of these findings can help prove that a person's death was at least partly caused by negligent medical treatment.
One of the powers available to a coroner is the power to make a Regulation 28 report. If the coroner feels there is evidence that certain circumstances are creating a risk of causing more deaths, they may send a Regulation 28 report to the organisation with responsibility for these circumstances. The organisation must send a written response within 56 days, providing details of any actions that have been or will be taken, or an explanation when no action is proposed. These reports will be available to the public and media, and, as a result of the coroner's inquest, medical negligence can be shown to be a systemic problem for the organisation in question.
Get in touch with the team at JMW Solicitors today, and we can talk you through each step of how the coroner's inquest process works, and how we can help you.
FAQs About Fatal Medical Negligence Claims
- Am I eligible for a bereavement award?
If you live in England or Wales, you may be eligible to receive a statutory bereavement award. This is a fixed compensation amount payable to certain people whose family members have died as a result of fatal accidents caused by the negligent actions of others.
This award can be claimed in addition to compensation in any other claims process you are involved with. It is designed to help with financial losses and expenses such as funeral costs, lost earnings, and the cost of returning the body of a loved one from overseas if they died in another country.
Currently, the statutory bereavement award is only available to the husband, wife or civil partner of the deceased, or their parent if the child was under 18. Different rules apply in Scotland, where the equivalent awards tend to be more generous and widely available.
Get in touch with a solicitor to learn more about whether you qualify for a bereavement award.
- Is there a time limit on making fatal medical negligence claims?
As a rule, fatal medical negligence claims must be made within a three-year time limit. In cases of medical negligence resulting in the death of a family member or loved one, the date when this countdown starts can vary.
Depending on the circumstances, the three-year limit may be deemed to begin:
- On the date when the negligent treatment/procedure was carried out
- On the date of your loved one's death
- On the date when it was discovered that medical negligence was a factor, whether through the coroner's inquest or other investigations
Cases of medical negligence resulting in wrongful death can be complicated, which is why it is important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. This will give your solicitor ample time to investigate the circumstances and ensure that everyone involved in the case understands when the time limits will apply.
- How much compensation for death by medical negligence can I expect?
The amount of compensation that can be claimed for a medical negligence death claim will depend on the specific circumstances of the case. Various factors will be taken into account, including:
- The cost of funeral expenses
- Current and anticipated loss of earnings from the deceased, particularly if they were the main source of income for a household
- Loss of benefits, including pension contributions
- Childcare costs that may be needed due to the loss of a family member
For a more accurate estimate of how much compensation you may be eligible to claim from hospital negligence resulting in death, get in touch with an expert solicitor to discuss the details of your case.
- How long does a coroner's inquest take?
As with most aspects of the investigation process following a wrongful death, the duration of a coroner's inquest will depend largely on the complexity of the case, and the number of issues that need to be explored. In some cases, the inquest can be completed in a matter of hours, whereas for more complicated cases, it may last for several days or weeks.
Speak to a medical negligence solicitor for a more precise estimate of how long the inquest process might take.
Talk to Us
To discuss how you can make a no win, no fee fatal medical negligence claim, get in touch with our expert medical negligence and coroner's inquest solicitors now. Our legal team are friendly, approachable and highly sensitive to the needs of those making fatal medical negligence claims after the wrongful death of a loved one, and contacting us is the first step towards getting the answers you need.