Medical Negligence Resulting in Death

The loss of a loved one is never easy to deal with and can be particularly hard to accept where the cause of death turns out to be substandard medical care. The natural grief you feel can soon give way to an overwhelming sense of anger and a growing determination to find out what happened so those responsible can be held to account. Coupled with this you may be feeling anxious and fearful as you try to picture your life going forward and how you and your family will cope.

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Our specialist medical negligence lawyers have a wealth of experience in dealing with cases involving medical or clinical mistakes, including those where death has arisen as a result of:


  • misdiagnosis or delays in diagnosis by general practitioners or A & E doctors;
  • incorrectly performed medical treatment or surgical errors by NHS hospital or private hospital staff;
  • prescription errors by NHS or privately employed pharmacists; and
  • a general lack of care and attention on the part of any other healthcare professional, including anaesthetists, radiologists, ophthalmologists, cardiologists, oncologists, dentists and hygienists and auxiliary nursing staff.



We can help whatever the circumstances of your loved one’s death, provided you fall into the category of a ‘dependant person’ under the provisions of the Fatal Accidents Act 1976. This will be the case where you and your loved one were:


  • husband, wife or civil partner, or in certain circumstances former husband, wife or civil partner:
  • cohabitants living together in the same household as though husband, wife or civil partner for at least two years prior to death;
  • parent and child;
  • step-parent and child;
  • grandparent and grandchild;
  • brother and sister; or
  • uncle or aunt and niece or nephew.


In whose name will a claim be made?

Normally, any action proposed must be taken in the name of the person or persons appointed to deal with your loved one’s estate, which will either be their executors where they made a will or else their nominated administrators. However, it is possible for you to take an action on your own account where the executors or administrators decline to act or where they fail to do so within six months of your loved one’s death occurring. To take action yourself it is important that you seek advice promptly as it will only be possible for you to make a claim if you do so within three years of death occurring or within three years of you and your family realising that the cause of death may have been down to substandard medical care, referred to formally as medical or clinical negligence.


How we can help

Provided eligibility to bring a claim can be established, our experienced lawyers can help you to:


  • lodge a complaint about the care or treatment your loved one received;
  • review the outcome of an internal investigation commissioned to find out what happened;
  • represent you at a coroner’s inquiry where one is convened;
  • submit a claim on your behalf for appropriate compensation;
  • access local counselling services to aid your recovery;
  • secure an apology from the relevant healthcare provider; and
  • ensure lessons are learnt to try to avoid anyone else dying in similar circumstances.


What is the process for making a claim?

The first step to securing the compensation you deserve is to speak to us to determine whether a claim is possible and if so the value of the payment you can expect to receive. To carry out this assessment we will need to talk to you about what happened, your relationship with the deceased before they died and the outcome of any autopsy or investigation that may have been carried out into the circumstances in which death occurred. We may also need to take advice from medical experts who can confirm that, but for the way your loved one was treated, it is likely that they would still be alive and also from financial experts who can quantify the amount of financial support you could have expected to have received had your loved one’s life not been so abruptly ended i.e. the extent of your financial dependency and also the extent of any ongoing financial burdens.


We appreciate that having to relive the circumstances in which your loved one died will be distressing and that you may feel uncomfortable talking about things that would otherwise be private. However, you can take comfort in knowing that our medical negligence experts will ensure that you are treated with care and compassion and that this part of the claims process is handled as sensitively as possible and in a way that puts you and your family firmly in control.


Once we are clear on events and where you stand, the next step will be for us to write to the relevant healthcare provider to notify them of your claim and to open a dialogue with their insurer to determine whether responsibility for your loved one’s death is admitted and, where it is, to explore the possibility of an out of court settlement being achieved. We have a high success rate in resolving claims at this stage and thus avoiding the need to take your case any further.


That said, there are instances where liability is denied or where the amount of compensation offered for acknowledged wrongdoing is too low and in these circumstances it may be necessary to issue legal proceedings so that the merits of your claim and the amount being sought can be assessed by a judge.


Whatever direction your case takes, our lawyers will be by your side every step of the way and will do everything they can to secure you the best possible outcome.


How likely is it that my claim will succeed?

Nothing in life is certain and it is the same with legal claims. However, our initial assessment of your case will be geared at establishing the relative strength of your position and the likelihood of us being able to achieve a positive result that justifies action being taken. We will never advise you to pursue a claim that we believe is destined to fail and in most cases will caution against the instigation of legal proceedings in any case where the prospects of success are less than a set percentage.


How much compensation am I likely to receive?

Assuming negligence can be established, the amount of compensation you receive will depend on your relationship to the person who has died and whether or not you were dependent on them for financial support or for the provision of care. Payouts can vary from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of pounds, depending on the circumstances.


Spouses, civil partners and parents of children under the age of 18 usually receive the highest awards because of their eligibility to claim a bereavement payment in addition to any other compensation they may be entitled to. The amount of this payment is subject to regular review but as of July 2020 is £15,120.


We will tell you how much we think you are likely to recover when you first contact us and will let you know if our assessment changes as your case progresses.


Why choose Step Legal Solicitors?

Our lawyers understand how devastating it is to lose someone because of a medical mistake and the important role we can play in helping you to move on. When you come to us for assistance, we will commit to support you in whatever way we can and to help you secure everything you need to achieve closure. We will work tirelessly in order to find out what went wrong and to secure an apology from those responsible wherever we can. We will also push hard to get you the compensation that you deserve and to explain your options in plain English when it comes to accepting or refusing any offers of settlement that may be made.


Where you are struggling financially following your loved one’s death (and an admission of liability has been obtained) we will ask the insurer responsible for meeting your claim to make you an advance payment of some of the compensation you are likely to receive, in order to help cover your living costs as you wait for your claim to be settled and to enable you to pay for any private therapy or counselling you believe that you or your family might benefit from.


In short, we will do everything we can to support you while your case progresses and to get you into a position where you have everything that you need to try to move forward once your claim has been resolved.


What next?

To find out more about making a claim for compensation where a medical mistake has resulted in death, please call us now on 0800 1956412 to arrange a free consultation with an experienced member of our medical negligence team. We can help whatever the circumstances and wherever in England or Wales you are based. And remember, in most cases we can provide assistance under a no win, no fee agreement which means that you can take action safe in the knowledge that there will be no charge for our legal costs unless we are successful in securing you the compensation you deserve.