We rely on our healthcare institutions to protect our health at all times, however in rare circumstances, errors may occur which ultimately lead to death. For the loved ones left behind, just trying to make sense of what happened while dealing with the day to day practicalities of life can pose enormous challenges. With effective support and legal advice, however, you can start to find the answers you need and help to prevent such occurrences happening to others. And where necessary, by bringing a claim for medical negligence leading to a fatal injury, it may be possible to seek recourse for the suffering and losses you and your family have incurred as a result.
How may death occur due to medical negligence?
Errors or mistakes at any point while interacting with the health care system can ultimately lead to death in some circumstances. The time between the negligent act and death may be protracted, and in many cases, it may not be immediately apparent that an error made by a health professional led to a fatal outcome weeks, months, or even years later. Medical errors which may lead to fatality include:
- Failure to diagnose in a timely manner
- Failure to refer a patient to a specialist
- Making an incorrect diagnosis
- Prescribing drugs to which a patient has an allergy
- Failure to control for infection or sepsis
- Prescription or administration of incorrect medication
- Negligence during surgery
- Mistakes during birth
- Application of poor surgical or medical technique
- Failure to monitor a patient effectively
- Poor communication between medical staff
- Poor administration of anaesthesia
What is the role of the Coroner in an Inquest?
Where death is believed to have occurred as a result of unknown or uncertain causes, the Coroner is responsible for carrying out an investigation into the underlying reason. In addition, if death happens in hospital, it must be reported to the Coroner if:
- Any question of negligence or misadventure arises in relation to the treatment of the deceased
- The patient was undergoing an operation or was under the effect of an anaesthetic
- Death occurred during or as a result of any invasive procedure
- Death was due to neglect or lack of care
- Death occurred in a mental health facility
To determine the underlying factors leading to death, a post-mortem may be conducted by a specially trained pathologist. The outcome and report resulting from the post-mortem will then be used to support any claim for fatal injury medical negligence.
Who can bring a case for medical negligence leading to fatal injury?
A claim in relation to fatal injury due to medical negligence can only be brought once by a representative on behalf of the dependants of the deceased; this is to avoid several competing claims being made. Typically, it is the personal representative who will make the claim, however, if no one is placed into this role, or if no claim is made within six months of the death, dependants may commence the claim process. Dependents may include the spouse, parent, grandparent, step-parent, child, grandchild, step-child, sister, brother, half-sister or half-brother of the deceased.
If you are unsure if you are deemed a dependent under law, please contact one of our medical negligence solicitors who will carefully and empathetically listen to the details of the case and confirm if you may be included in a claim for fatal injury.
Can I bring a claim for medical negligence leading to fatal injury?
To bring a claim for a fatal injury due to medical negligence, it will be necessary to provide evidence that:
- The medical care received was below a satisfactory standard (i.e. that another healthcare professional would not have made the same error), and;
- This negligence caused fatal damage, injury or disease.
To prove the case, we will compile evidence including medical or care records, and seek expert medical opinion.
How Lavelle Partners’ Medical Negligence Solicitors can assist you in bringing a claim
- Lavelle Partners have successfully managed many cases of fatal injury due to medical negligence.
- Our personal injury team, headed by partner, Avril Scally, who herself has over 15 years’ experience in medical negligence claims, place client care at the centre of everything they do.
- From the first moment you speak to one of our solicitors, we will listen to your case carefully and with empathy and will only recommend advancing your case if we believe you have a valid case.
- We have both the legal expertise and understanding of the real-life challenges faced by individuals and their families following such events.
- Our solicitors will manage the process entirely on your behalf; compiling the information necessary for your case, including medical notes and managing the submission of your medical negligence claim.
By allowing us to handle your claim on your behalf, you can focus on what is most important – your recovery and care, or that of your family member or loved one.
For further information on making a claim for fatal injury resulting from medical negligence in Ireland, please contact Lavelle Partners in confidence on (01) 644 5800 or email Avril Scally at [email protected]
*In contentious business, a solicitor may not calculate fees or other charges as a percentage or proportion of any award or settlement. This statement is made in compliance with RE.8 of SI 518 of 2002.