Losing someone you love is always difficult, but more so if that person’s death could have been avoided if the standard of care had been acceptable.
In these circumstances, you may wish to make a claim for compensation.
Who Can Make A Claim?
The rules governing claims brought on behalf of a deceased person can be found in the Fatal Accidents Act 1976 and Miscellaneous Provisions Act 1934. These Acts allow the following people to bring a claim for damages for the death of a loved one caused by substandard care or in other words clinical negligence:
- Executors named in the deceased person’s will. It may be that all Executors act together or just one brings a claim on behalf of the other
- Where a person did not leave a will, an Administrator may be appointed to distribute the Estate. Appointed Administrators are able to bring a claim on behalf of the deceased person’s estate. There are rules governing who can be appointed as Administrator, but usually this would be a spouse or civil partner, parent or child of the deceased.
- Those who were financially dependent on the deceased may be able to bring a claim. Usually, a claim would be brought on their behalf by an Executor or Administrator.
In order to bring a claim, those named as Executors would need to obtain a Grant of Probate. Where there is no will, those wishing to be appointed as an Administrator would need to apply to the Probate Registry for a Grant of Letters of Administration.
What Can Be Claimed
Under the Fatal Accidents Act, a statutory bereavement award may be claimed by certain categories of people. The current level of the award is £12,980 (as at March 2019). However, from 1st May 2020 this will rise to £15,120, but only for any actions arising on or after that date. This may be claimed by the following only:
- Spouse or civil partner
- Parent of a child under 18
Unfortunately, this award is not available to cohabitating couples or children of the deceased. However, following the recent decision in Smith v Lancashire Teaching Hospitals  this is something that may change in the near future. In this case, the Court of Appeal ruled that the current law was incompatible with Human Rights law, in respect of cohabiting couples of 2 or more years, and recommended that the current law be reviewed, although this review has not yet been completed.
Loss of services
Did the deceased person provide care for another or help around the house, doing the gardening or shopping or looking after children or grandchildren? Do these tasks now need to be carried out by another member of the family or do you now need to pay someone to carry out these tasks? If so, it may be possible to include these items within a claim. Your lawyer would be able to go through these in more detail with you.
Were you financially dependent on the deceased? For example, were your reliant on their wage or pension? Did they financially support you? If so, your lawyer will be able to discuss including this in any claim.
Information and Support
The team at Pryers Solicitors have a wealth of experience in investigating claims on behalf of an Estate and Claims for Dependants and will be able to advise you if you may or may not be able to claim compensation. Please contact our experts to find out how we can help you.
If you would like advice and help dealing with your bereavement, there are many local charities who can help. National charities include Cruise