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Fatal Medical Negligence Claims and Coroner's Inquests
While most healthcare is administered to a very high standard, sometimes mistakes are made and a patient can tragically lose their life. In such circumstances, it is imperative the bereaved seek legal assistance to help them at such a difficult time by providing invaluable support and guidance on how to claim compensation for the suffering caused. At JMW, our solicitors know just how devastating medical errors can be, and we are fully committed to securing the compensation to which you and your loved ones are entitled.
If a death is subject to a coroner's inquest, our team can provide the very best representation, support and guidance by appointing the right legal representative, with the experience and know-how to ask the right questions and get the right answers - something which is essential in such circumstances.
If you have been bereaved due to fatal medical negligence, or require expert representation at a coroner's inquest, our specialist team of solicitors can help. Call us 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 an accident caused by somebody else's negligent behaviour, visit our personal injury department.
How JMW Can Help
Our team of solicitors is highly experienced in dealing with fatal claims. We have dealt with fatalities caused by many different situations, and always provide a caring, sympathetic service. We understand how difficult and daunting it can seem to make a claim in such terrible circumstances, but we are here to make the whole process as simple and hassle-free as possible.
Families understandably want answers whenever something happens to a person in the care of a professional, especially in the event of death due to medical negligence. Our solicitors will help you to get these answers. Our involvement can also help to make sure that the right measures are taken to prevent the same thing happening to somebody else.
We work with compassion and empathy and will always work towards the speediest result possible. Our professional and personal approach will ensure you're able to get the answers you are after. We also understand that coroner's inquests can be very emotional and can seem particularly daunting, which is why we are here to provide the representation you need to ensure the process is as stress-free as possible.
The team is headed by leading solicitor Eddie Jones and is widely considered as one of the best 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 team in your corner that will ask the right questions and work tirelessly to help you get the answers you are looking for.
Making a Fatal Medical Negligence Claim
You may be entitled to make a claim if somebody close to you has died and you believe this to have been caused by the negligent actions of a medical professional. For instance, you may suspect that the appropriate steps were not taken to prevent the death of your loved one. By making a 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, you could be entitled to compensation; and we'll help you get the amount that you deserve.
We can claim on behalf of:
- A husband or wife, or former husband or wife of the deceased
- A civil partner or former civil partner of the deceased
- A person who was living with the deceased as husband or wife for at least two years prior to the death
- A parent or other dependent of the deceased
- A person who was treated by the deceased as his or her parent
- A child or other dependent of the deceased
We understand that while nothing can repair the emotional pain of losing a loved one, compensation can help to ease financial issues, especially if the main breadwinner in a family has been sadly lost.
What Happens in a Coroner's Inquest?
In most cases of death, a GP or hospital doctor will issue a medical certificate of the cause of death, which is sent to the registrar of births and deaths who will then issue a death certificate. However, in some cases, the body may be referred to a coroner. This might happen if the death:
- Followed an accident or injury
- Occurred during surgery
- Happened after 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. Then, the coroner may launch an inquest - 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 four questions:
- Who died?
- When did they die?
- Where did they die?
- How and in what circumstances did they die?
Legal Representation 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. However, appointing a legal representative to attend the inquest will 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 death and have assurances that similar deaths will not occur. 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 reach a conclusion about 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. A coroner or a jury may also reach a conclusion that a death has been contributed to by neglect. Whilst a coroner cannot decide that a person or organisation has been negligent, in some circumstances, a coroner is able to make factual findings of any failures in care in some circumstances. These findings can subsequently be helpful if a family chooses to pursue a claim for compensation.
One of the powers available to a coroner is the power to make a Regulation 28 report. If the coroner feels that the evidence gives rise to a concern that circumstances creating a risk of other deaths will occur or continue to exist, he/she may make a Regulation 28 report, which is sent to the organisation that has responsibility for the circumstances. A recipient of a Regulation 28 report must send a written response within 56 days. Reports are available to the public and the press.
The response must give details of any action that has been or is proposed will be taken, or provide an explanation when no action is proposed.