Losing a loved one is a devastating and traumatic event; but what happens if that tragic loss was caused by a failing in care that could have been avoided?
In amongst the grief of coping with bereavement, those left behind are sometimes faced with unanswered questions over the medical care that their loved one received, and whether that in some way contributed to their death.
This is understandably an incredibly distressing position to be in, and often families will feel they are unable to fully come to terms with what has happened without those questions being addressed. In those circumstances, the family may wish to instruct a solicitor to investigate a potential medical negligence claim.
What will a solicitor do?
In pursuing a potential claim, a solicitor will investigate the treatment the deceased received, and consider whether that treatment caused or contributed to their death. It may have been that there was an avoidable delay in diagnosing an illness that would otherwise have been treatable; that an operation or other treatment was not carried out to an adequate standard, and resulting complications led to the individual tragically passing away; or that the treatment that should have been provided to the individual simply wasn’t carried out.
What is the potential outcome of a medical negligence case?
Sadly, nothing will ever bring a loved one back. A successful medical negligence claim will only be able to achieve a financial settlement as the ultimate outcome.
It may be that the deceased was the main bread-winner of the family, or was responsible for childcare or the running of the household, meaning that, after their death, worries as to making ends meet or looking after children or other relatives add to the considerable burdens on those left behind. A financial settlement can mean that, whilst attempting to come to terms with the gulf left by the loss of a loved one, financial worries can be dealt with without adding to that burden.
In considering financial settlement, a solicitor will consider whether there has been a loss of financial dependency and also whether there has been a loss of services (for example if the deceased carried out DIY, childcare or perhaps caring for a relative) as well as a claim for the pain and suffering endured by the deceased before their death, funeral expenses and a ‘bereavement award’, that is, an award set by law for a surviving spouse or surviving parents of a child aged under 18.
Are there time limits?
It is important, if a medical negligence claim is being considered, that it is not left too late to pursue a potential claim as there are time limits which can prevent a claim from being pursued if those periods have expired.
How do I know which solicitor I should choose?
Choosing the right solicitor in cases such as these is of course of the upmost importance. It is vital that the solicitor has the expertise and experience to investigate your case fully and appropriately, but also to act empathetically in what is understandably an incredibly difficult time for those who have lost someone they love. Both the Law Society and Association of Personal Injury Lawyers run clinical negligence accreditation schemes, only awarding their marks of quality assurance to firms that meet their independent and objective standards.