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Do you need help with a Fatal Injury Claim?

21 Apr 2022

If a family member or loved one dies as a result of negligent medical care, our experienced team of clinical negligence solicitors can guide you compassionately through the fatal injury claim process. We understand that losing a loved one is extremely traumatic and we are here to provide pragmatic legal advice in an empathetic and caring way. Whilst most healthcare professionals work to very high standards, sometimes a mistake can happen, and a patient can tragically lose their life. Whilst we appreciate that no amount of money can compensate you for such a loss, you may be entitled to damages to help reduce the financial burden unjustly placed upon you and your family.

How long do I have to make a fatal claim?

In the UK, you have three years to make a fatal injury claim. The time limit usually starts to run from the date of death. In some cases, the time limit can start from the time you realised the injuries from a medical accident caused the death of your loved one.

Expert evidence

Like all clinical negligence claims it must still be proven, on balance of probabilities, that the medical practitioner has been negligent or has breached their statutory duty of care and that the treatment caused or materially contributed to your loved one’s death. As part of the investigation process we will instruct independent medical experts on your behalf to review the evidence including medical records, radiology and witness statements and to prepare a report in relation to the medical care provided before their death. The expert has an overriding duty to the court which means they have to act independently and be honest, trustworthy, objective and impartial. If the experts are critical of the care provided, we will draft a letter of claim which will be served on the defendant which will plead the allegations of negligence.

What can you claim for?

A claim for compensation for the death of a loved one usually contains several elements which reflect not only the suffering of your loved one, but the impact the loss has had on you and your family. The following losses can be claimed:

  •   Pain, suffering and loss of amenity
  •   A statutory bereavement award
  •   Funeral expenses
  •   Loss of love and affection of a family member
  •   Loss of financial dependency and services

Who can bring a fatal claim?

Fatal Claims are usually brought by the executors or administrators (if the deceased died without a will) of the deceased’s estate, on behalf of the estate itself and on behalf of those who were financially dependent on the deceased. In practical terms, those that fall within the definition of “dependent” often includes:

Fatal injury claim
  •   Spouses, civil partners or former spouses or civil partners
  •   Couples who had been living together in the same household for at least 2 years before the deceased passed away
  •   Any child or descendant

Where the deceased was married or in a civil partnership, any person the deceased treated as a child in relation to that marriage or civil partnership (such as a step-child)In certain circumstances, dependent(s) can bring a claim for dependency in their own right under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976,but they can’t act on behalf of the estate.

Dependency Claim

Dependency claims are usually twofold. Claims for

  •   Financial dependency and;
  •   Loss of services dependency.

Financial dependency claims arise in situations where you or your family are financially worse off because of the death of your loved one. This can include a claim for loss of earnings and pension. These claims can be substantial especially where your loved one may have been relatively young or envisaged carrying on working for a number of years. The value of a dependency claim is determined by its own facts and there is no upper limit.

A claim for loss of services dependency can be made where your loved one performed a service for the benefit of their family which can no longer be provided for. This could include a claim for childcare, gratuitous DIY tasks or gardening etc.

We are Here to Help

If you are concerned about treatment a loved one received from a health care provider or wish to discuss a potential clinical negligence claim, please contact Helen Morland, helen.morland@hay-kilner.co.uk, or call 0191 227 6735 or a member of the team to discuss further.