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Conveyancing 0191 260 6571
New Enquiries 0344 854 7000
Existing Enquiries 0191 232 1123
Conveyancing 0191 260 6571

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Fatal Medical Negligence Claims

Dealing with the death of a family member or loved one is never easy, let alone when the circumstances around their passing involve negligent medical treatment which may have caused or contributed towards their death.

If you have had the unfortunate experience of losing a loved one due to negligent treatment it is possible to make a claim on behalf of their Estate. The claims process is generally started by the closest living family member of the deceased, such as their next of kin, son or daughter, or sibling. However, it would be necessary to be the Personal Representative of the deceased in order to have the legal authority to formally bring a claim on behalf of their Estate.

If the deceased had a Will in place which appointed an executor at the time of death, the executor of the Will can formally instruct a solicitor to take on the case. The executor is typically a close family member, and they will also need a Grant of Probate. If there is no Will in place, a grant of Letters of Administration will be needed instead to appoint a Personal Representative (for example a spouse, parent, or child).

Provided the negligent event occurred within three years of the death of your loved one you will have three years from the date of their death in which to bring a claim. However, where it is necessary to obtain a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration this can be a lengthy process and we would always suggest you act as quickly as possible to bring a claim so there is plenty of time to investigate and deal with the necessary steps.

Examples of death due to medical negligence:

  • Brain haemorrhage
  • Cancer
  • Childbirth
  • Failure to carry out emergency treatment such as surgery
  • Heart attack
  • Meningitis
  • Missed diagnosis of illness or infections (meningitis or sepsis)
  • Pulmonary embolism
  • Stroke
  • Surgical errors

What exactly can I claim compensation for?

Dealing with grief can be made worse by financial stresses such as needing to pay for funeral expenses and the loss of income coming into the household. When calculating the compensation for the death of a loved one caused by medical negligence we will take into consideration the below factors:

  • Bereavement damages: the term given to the payment, fixed by law, for the grief and trauma suffered when a loved one dies due to the negligent actions of someone else. Not everyone is entitled to bereavement damages, it is usually restricted to the husband, wife or civil partner of the deceased.

Other circumstances in which it may be possible to claim include:

    • Unmarried, cohabiting couples who have been in a relationship for more than two years may be able to claim under the Human Rights Act.
    • If the person who dies was under the age of 18 and are unmarried, a parent may be able to claim.


  • Pain and suffering: this is the pain and suffering experienced by the deceased before they passed away.,
  • Funeral expenses: it may be possible to include the cost of the funeral and certain associated expenses as part of any claim.
  • Loss of earnings: this can include losses that occurred prior to the death, associated to the negligence and any applicable future loss of earnings. If the deceased was the main breadwinner in the household and there are a number of dependants that relied on their salary, the consequences can be severe. Consequently if you have had to give up work to look after dependents following the death of a spouse, your loss of income could also be taken into consideration.
  • Loss of benefits: this may include pension contributions lost out on as a result of the death.
  • Childcare costs: if the loss of a loved one has meant that you now have to pay for additional childcare, this could also be factored into the final compensation amount.
  • Counselling services: after the death of a loved one, especially in instances when the death was sudden, counselling can be extremely beneficial to family members to help them come to terms with the death and to get back to their normal way of life. Private counselling can however be expensive, and NHS waiting lists are often long.

What is an inquest into cause of death?

When someone dies, and the cause of their death is unclear, an inquest will be held to confirm what factors led to the death. An inquest will be conducted by a coroner, who will undertake an investigation into the facts of the death to determine, who has died, where they died, when they died and how they died. This will allow the coroner to reach a conclusion as to the cause of death.

Whilst a coroner will not be looking to establish blame, the investigation process will often highlight areas of substandard treatment that may constitute negligent treatment.

How much compensation can I get?

The average payout for medical negligence resulting in death depends on the individual circumstances of each case. There is not one set amount that would apply to every single case. As mentioned above variables such as current and future loss of income, pain and suffering, childcare costs, loss of benefits and funeral expenses, are all taken into account when calculating the settlement amount.


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