How To Make A Wrongful Death Medical Negligence Compensation Claim? – Who Can Claim? – Am I Eligible?

How To Claim Compensation For Fatal Medical Negligence

Medical negligence could occur when a medical practitioner such as a doctor, nurse or dentist delivers substandard care to a patient. As a result of this malpractice, the patient is injured, made ill or their pre-existing medical condition is made worse. Medical negligence is also known as medical malpractice or clinical negligence. In rare cases, a patient may die unnecessarily due to medical malpractice. This is known as wrongful death medical negligence.

If you have experienced a tragedy where your parent, sibling, spouse, child or other close relative suffered a wrongful death due to medical negligence, you may be entitled to claim compensation. Trust Legal Helpline to provide you with a knowledgeable medical negligence solicitor to handle your case. We are a trusted personal injury claims advisory service and our panel of solicitors have thirty years of experience handling clinical negligence cases.

To begin your claim for medical negligence resulting in death, call us today on 0161 6969 685 or use our online claims form to get in contact with us. We will speak to you in-depth and if we see that you have legitimate grounds to claim compensation for fatal medical negligence, we will assign an excellent personal injury solicitor to start working on your claim.

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A Guide To Wrongful Death Medical Negligence Claims

Wrongful death medical negligence claim

Wrongful death medical negligence claim

It’s always devastating to lose a loved one, but knowing that their death could have been avoided can make things all the more harrowing. Although no amount of money can replace a close relative, making a wrongful death compensation claim encourages the NHS Trust or private healthcare provider at fault to show more accountability in the future. The money can also go towards giving you and your remaining family members a good quality of life going forward.

In this guide to making a medical malpractice resulting in a death claim, we will look at what is classed as medical negligence and the circumstances in which it can result in the patient dying an avoidable death. We will advise you on how to claim compensation for an incident of medical negligence causing death to your next of kin relative and have included a personal injury claims calculator to help you to estimate how much compensation you could be owed.

If you have lost a close relative because of death caused by medical negligence, call Legal Helpline today. We can sensitively advise you what the best course of action might be for you. And if we can see that you are owed compensation, we can provide you with an excellent medical negligence lawyer to handle your claim.

What Is Wrongful Death Medical Negligence?

All medical practitioners owe their patients a duty of care. This means that they are obliged to provide them with adequate medical treatment and hold the patient’s well-being in high regard. We will look into what duty of care means in more detail later in this guide.

Medical negligence is when a medical practitioner breaches their duty of care towards a patient. As a result, the patient is injured, made ill or their existing condition is worsened. If this takes place, the organisation that the doctor, nurse or other medical practitioner works for can be held liable for the patient’s injuries and have to pay the patient compensation.

Examples of medical negligence include:

  • A doctor not taking all the proper steps to investigate what a patient’s injury or illness is and misdiagnosing the patient’s condition. As a result, the patient’s condition goes untreated, or they receive incorrect medical treatment which can harm the body.
  • A doctor prescribes the wrong type of medication, or the wrong dosage of medication, which can have a toxic effect.
  • Negligence during surgery. This can include wrong-site surgery where the wrong part of the body is operated on, or a foreign body being left inside the patient.
  • Childbirth injuries due to negligence, which can result in the mother or the infant being harmed.
  • Avoidable delays in diagnosing or treating a patient, so their condition worsens unnecessarily over time.

Medical staff such as doctors, nurses, anaesthetists and other medical practitioners, usually hold a patient’s safety and wellbeing in the highest regard. However, incidents of medical negligence do happen. Often medical negligence can be due to healthcare services being underfunded, creating staff shortages, or administrative errors such as a doctor being given the wrong patient notes.

In extreme cases of medical malpractice, a patient could die, either because the negligent actions of the medical practitioners killed them, or the practitioners failed to act to prevent their death. If there is evidence to show that your next of kin relative died due to negligence on the part of the medical practitioners who were supposed to take care of them, you may be able to claim compensation for your loss.

Statistics Highlighting Medical Negligence

These statistics create a picture of how frequently patients die in hospital:

  • The health statistics firm Dr Foster reports that in 2013, 16 NHS Hospital Trusts suffered a higher than expected rate of patient deaths.
  • The number of patients in the UK that died in hospital in 2012-2013 is about 237,100. This is 5,300 less than the number of patients that died in 2010-11 but 4,400 more than the number of patients that died in hospital during 2011-12.

Four indicators are used to rate patient deaths in hospitals:

  • The number of in-hospital deaths.
  • The number of post-surgery deaths.
  • The number of deaths within 30 days of release from the hospital.
  • The number of deaths amongst patients judged to be at low risk of death.

Sadly the majority of hospitals scored low in at least two of these four indicators. In 2013, only four NHS Hospital Trusts were awarded the “Trust of the Year” title, for scoring low in each category.

What’s more, research carried out by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine found that one in twenty-eight deaths occurring in NHS hospitals was linked to poor healthcare practices.

The information above depicts a worrying picture of how many people may be at risk because of medical negligence in hospitals.


Medical Professionals Duty Of Care To Patients

Doctors and other medical providers owe their patients a duty of care. This means that doctors, nurses and others are obliged to follow professional practices and provide patients with an adequate standard of care. If a patient is harmed because of substandard medical treatment, the duty of care has been breached and the medical practitioner could be found guilty of clinical negligence.

The General Medical Council (GMC) sets out the duties of a doctor. These include:

  • Providing a good standard of practice and care, based on having a broad base of knowledge and skills.
  • Ensuring that the patient’s safety and dignity are upheld.
  • Work in partnership with patients and involve them in making decisions or themselves.
  • Be open and communicative with patients and colleagues.

You can read more about the duties of a doctor, as set out by the General Medical Council, here.

Are There Different Types Of Liability In Negligence Claims?

There are four different types of liability in medical negligence claims:

  • Contributory negligence: The patient’s behaviour partly caused their injuries, illness or worsening of a medical condition. In the case of contributory negligence, the claimant would not receive compensation.
  • Comparative negligence: This is when both parties (i.e. the patient and medical practitioner) had a part to play in causing the injuries. In this case, the claimant will be awarded a portion of the compensation, which will be proportionate to the rate that the defendant was at fault.
  • Vicarious liability: Another party caused the injuries. For example, a lab mixed up the patient’s test results with that of another patient.
  • Gross negligence: When a serious medical error was made. In some cases, the doctor may have been under the influence of illegal drugs or alcohol. Often the doctor’s license to practice medicine will be revoked.

Who Can Make A Wrongful Death Medical Negligence Claim?

If a person suffers a wrongful death due to medical negligence, who can claim compensation on their behalf? The following parties may be entitled to claim compensation for medical negligence resulting in death:

  • The next of kin family members of the deceased person
  • The surviving dependents of the deceased person
  • The estate of the deceased person

Wrongful Death Medical Negligence Claims By A Deceased Person’s Family

If you are a close family member of a deceased person, or a financial dependant of a deceased person, whose death was due to medical negligence, you could be entitled to claim compensation for their wrongful death. The funds awarded for your claim for death caused by medical negligence will compensate you for the emotional pain and suffering caused by your ordeal and will also go towards supporting you or your dependents after their death.

Wrongful Death Medical Negligence Claim

If you represent the estate of a deceased person whose death was caused by fatal medical negligence, the estate may be able to make a medical malpractice resulting in a death claim. The funds awarded will go towards the maintenance of the estate.

If your close relative, or the person whose estate you manage, died due to NHS negligence, this NHS guide to making a complaint to the NHS, may be of help.

How Negligent Medical Care Could Lead To A Wrongful Death

There could be many reasons for death due to medical negligence. These can include the following:

  • Allergic reactions induced by medical negligence. Patients that are allergic to penicillin or other drugs can experience anaphylactic shock if they are given the substance, which can result in their death. Medical practitioners should only administer certain drugs if they have checked the patient’s notes, or asked the patient if they are allergic to the substance.
  • If a doctor does not take all the necessary steps to diagnose a patient’s condition, this may lead to a misdiagnosis. If a patient’s condition is misdiagnosed, they may not get the treatment they need, leading to their condition worsening and their eventual death. In other circumstances, the patient may be given the wrong medication for their condition, which can have a toxic effect on their body.
  • Deaths can be caused by medical negligence involving anaesthetic errors.
  • Negligence in surgery can cause a patient to die. For example, accidentally damaging a patient’s vital organ. Unnecessarily delaying life-saving surgery can also cause a patient’s death.
  • Improper practices at a care home, such as removing a respirator for a resident that needs to be on oxygen, can cause an avoidable death.

Wrongful Death Medical Negligence Claims Against The NHS

The NHS provides state healthcare for the entire United Kingdom. NHS workers including doctors and nurses are known for their diligence and dedication to helping patients. However, with such a large workforce, incidents of medical negligence can and do happen.

If you make a claim against the NHS for death due to medical negligence of your loved one, it will be against the NHS Trust that managed the hospital, or other institution where the death occurred. The NHS Litigation Authority (NHSLA) will handle the defence. The majority of NHS negligence claims are settled out of court.

Wrongful Death Medical Negligence Claims Against Private Medical Providers

You can also claim a private care provider, such as a private hospital or nursing home for medical malpractice resulting in death. Call Legal Helpline today to find out more about claiming compensation for medical negligence against a private healthcare provider.

Wrongful Death Medical Negligence Claims Calculator

Our clients often ask us questions about how much compensation they could receive, such as, “how much is a wrongful death lawsuit worth?” and “what is the average payout for medical negligence in the UK?”

Wrongful death compensation in the UK starts with a baseline payout for the person’s death. Additional costs are added for how long the death took and whether or not the person was conscious or unconscious when they died. Expenses such as funeral expenses, punitive damages, loss of the person’s income and in work or government benefits can also be claimed for. The grieving family or estate can also claim compensation for the person’s lost income, lost in work benefits provided by their employer, or state benefits such as a pension. A claim can also be made for the person’s pain, suffering and loss of amenity.

You may well have seen a personal injury claims calculator before. This table is similar, though we find that people appreciate the layout much more.  The figures in this table are approximate amounts. Every death by negligence case is different, so for an accurate estimation of how much medical negligence resulting in death compensation, you could receive, based on your personal circumstances, call Legal Helpline to speak to one of our advisors.

Type Of InjuryCommentsDamages (inc 10% uplift)
Fatal accidentWith full awareness of the severity of the injury and intrusive treatment of injuries.£11,770 to £22,350
Immediate unconsciousness of death after six weeksFollowing an injury, claimant becomes immediately unconscious and dies within six weeks.£3,530 to £4,120
Post traumatic stress disorder - SevereMay include PTSD (psychological) trauma in response to threatened or in this case, actual death.£56,180 to £94,470
Lung disease leading to deathLung disease where the claimant will suffer a premature death.£94,470 to £127,530
Asbestos-Related DiseaseLevel (a) Mesothelioma. This may cause severe pain or suffering. The claimant may be impaired. This may lead to a fatal outcome.£65,710 to £118,150
Very severe brain damageVery severe forms of brain damage which may shorten the patients life.£264,650 to £379,100

Special Damages Medical Malpractice And Negligence Claims Could Include

If you make a successful wrongful death medical negligence claim, you may also be awarded special damages. Special damages seek to reimburse you for any out of pocket expenses that you have incurred as a result of losing a loved one to medical negligence.

Examples of special damages you may be able to claim include: loss of income, loss of future income, travel expenses, medical expenses (for example, counselling to come to terms with your grief and child care expenses, if your loved one cared for your children.

Steps To Take If A Loved One Has Died Due To Negligent Medical Care

If your loved one has suffered a wrongful death due to medical negligence, you can take these steps to collect evidence to support your compensation claim:

  • Matters regarding fatal medical negligence can often be very complicated. You can seek a second opinion from a doctor or consultant to verify whether or not your relative died due to medical negligence. Legal Helpline can arrange a further medical evaluation of the situation, if it is needed.
  • Request any evidence needed from the medical institution which is responsible for the negligence. This could include doctors notes, x-rays, test results, or any other information that could support your claim.
  • Start gathering any information you can to estimate the financial losses incurred by your loved one’s wrongful death. This can include receipts, bills, or loss of income due to time you had to take off work to cope with the psychological trauma you suffered.

Why Make A Fatal Medical Negligence Claim With Us?

If you have suffered the trauma of losing a close relative due to medical negligence causing death, Legal Helpline can provide you with a professional service that will deal with your claim in a sensitive and professional manner. If you trust us with your wrongful death compensation claim, we can offer you the following:

  • A free claims consultation where we will speak to you in-depth about your case 
  • The services of an experienced medical negligence solicitor
  • A promise that we will fight to win you the maximum amount of compensation that you are entitled to claim.
  • The option to make a No Win, No Fee compensation claim.

No Win, No Fee Wrongful Death Medical Negligence Claim

Legal Helpline offers its clients the option to make a claim on a No Win, No Fee basis. With a No Win, No Fee claim, you will only have to pay a small contribution toward your solicitor’s fees if you win your claim, meaning that there is less financial risk involved for you. The fee, which is legally capped, will be deducted from your final compensation package, so you don’t have to worry about finding the funds to pay for your claim upfront. If your claim is unsuccessful, you will not have to pay any of the fees your solicitor has incurred in pursuing your case. To learn more about the benefits of making a No Win, No Fee claim, call Legal Helpline today to speak to one of our friendly advisors.

Begin A Wrongful Death Medical Negligence Claim

If you have lost a loved one due to medical negligence, contact Legal Helpline today to speak to an advisor. If we can see that you or the estate you represent are eligible to claim compensation for death caused by medical negligence, we will provide you with an excellent medical negligence lawyer to handle your claim. Call us today on 0161 6969 685 or use our online claims form to begin your claim. We’re looking forward to working with you.

Medical Negligence Claims Resources

A Guide To Fatal Accident At Work Compensation Claims – How to make a claim for a fatal workplace accident.

Emergency Services Vehicle Accident Claims – Guidelines on how to claim for an accident with an emergency service vehicle.

How Much Compensation Can I Claim For Hospital Negligence Resulting In Death – Claims for deaths in the hospital caused by negligence.

External Resources

An NHS Guide To Complaining To The NHS – How you could claim against the NHS for harm suffered.

A Citizens Advice Bureau Guide On What To Do After A Family Death – Information from the Citizens Advice Bureau.


Guide by HE

Edited by REG