When we are admitted to hospital, we expect to receive a reasonable standard of care, which is often the case in the UK. However, there are instances where treatment has been inadequate. Clinical negligence is defined as when a medical professional or hospital has failed to provide the reasonable level of care expected, which has resulted in some form of loss, such as personal injury.
Medical negligence can have serious, life-changing consequences that may even be fatal. But what options are available to those who have suffered the loss of a relative due to clinical negligence?
In this article, our Civil Litigation & Dispute Resolution Paralegal, Elliot Cousins, discusses how to make a claim on behalf of someone who has passed away due to injuries caused by clinical negligence or medical malpractice.
What legislation covers medical negligence claims?
There are two key pieces of legislation which set out how you can bring a claim for clinical negligence on behalf of a person who has suffered a wrongful death:
- The Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934 (referred to as the ‘LRMPA’) which relates to claims for damages; and
- The Fatal Accidents Act 1976 (referred to as the ‘FAA’), which relates to claims for dependency.
How can I bring a claim for damages on behalf of a deceased relative?
Under the LRMPA, claims can be brought on behalf of a deceased person only by the administrator of the deceased’s estate or executor of the will. In this instance, the estate can claim for losses that the deceased person would have been entitled to for personal injuries caused by clinical negligence immediately before death.
Under the LRMPA, the main types of claim that can be brought are for:
- General damages (i.e. compensation) for issues such as pain, suffering and loss of amenity;
- Special damages for factors such as loss of earnings; and
- Funeral expenses provided they were paid for by the deceased’s estate.
If the claim is successful, the amount of compensation received will fall to the estate and will be distributed in accordance with the deceased’s will or via the intestacy rules.
How can I bring a claim for dependency?
Dependency claims can be brought under the FAA and are made on behalf of those who can prove they were dependent on the deceased person in some way. For example, a stay-at-home father may have been dependant on his deceased wife’s income in order to look after the home and their children.
Such claims can only be made by the administrator or executor of the will on behalf of a dependant. If there is no administrator or executor to the estate, then an action can be brought directly by any (or all) of the dependants.
The FAA sets out a list of the different dependants who can make a claim. This includes:
- The deceased’s spouse or civil partner;
- Any children of the deceased; and
- A ‘common law’ partner, as long as they were living in the same household immediately before the deceased’s death and had lived there for more than two years as if they were the deceased’s husband or wife.
Claims for dependency under the FAA following the wrongful death of a relative include:
- Loss of financial support from the deceased;
- Loss of dependency on the deceased’s services, such as gardening or DIY;
- Loss of a mother’s services, taking into account extended hours, increased commitment, and the provision of love that forms part and parcel of the care a mother traditionally provides her children;
- Statutory bereavement damages, which will be of a fixed amount; and
- Funeral expenses, if they have been paid by the dependant.
Can I bring both clinical negligence claims at the same time?
Yes. Although these claims are different in nature and can be brought separately, they are often made in tandem.
Find a Clinical Negligence Solicitor in Southend
If you require legal advice on what steps you can take on behalf of someone who has suffered from clinical negligence, don’t suffer in silence any longer. If you believe you or a loved one may have suffered from inadequate medical conduct, speak to one of our civil litigation solicitors today.
We are dedicated to ensuring you receive the right compensation for poor medical treatment. We can guide you through the process of making a clinical negligence claim and provide expert advice on a ‘no win, no fee’ basis.
Visit our solicitors at one of our three offices in Essex or get in touch by calling us on 01702 477106 or emailing your query to firstname.lastname@example.org. Alternatively, visit our website to find out more about our clinical negligence claims service.