My mother recently died due to complications during a hospital operation and my father believes he may be entitled to claim compensation for death during surgery. Where would he start?
If your father believes he may be entitled to claim compensation for death during surgery, the first thing he should do is discuss the tragic circumstances of his wife´s death with a solicitor. Although the solicitor would be unable to initiate legal proceedings before the result of the coroner´s inquest, there are certain procedures that can be performed in preparation of a claim for a hospital death due to medical negligence.
Once your father has described the circumstances of your mother´s death, the solicitor will write to all the medical staff involved with the procedure to obtain their notes. These notes would be reviewed by an independent medical expert to determine how the complications during surgery occurred and if anything could have been done – either prior to the procedure or during the operation – to prevent the tragedy.
If it can be established that your mother´s death could have been prevented had greater care been taken by those attending her, and this fact is confirmed by the coroner´s report (please note that coroner´s cannot attribute blame), your father will be entitled to claim for a hospital death due to medical negligence. The solicitor would then send a ‘Letter of Claim’ to the Health Service Executive (HSE), explaining where in the chain of events the negligence act(s) took place and advising the HSE that your father is claiming compensation for death during surgery.
With a weight of evidence and a coroner´s report to support the claim for a hospital death due to medical negligence, the HSE is unlikely to deny liability for your mother´s death, and a negotiated settlement should soon be agreed. How much compensation for death during surgery your father will be entitled to will depend on the circumstances of your mother´s death; but your father will automatically be able to claim a statutory sum for bereavement as well as the loss of financial support if your mother would have continued working after her operation.
The death of a patient in a hospital is a very delicate matter to handle for everyone involved, and you should encourage your father to speak with an experienced medical negligence solicitor who will understand the grief he is experiencing and who will be able to guide him through the procedures for making a claim for a hospital death due to medical negligence.
It would be understandable if your father is unable to focus on legal action at this moment in time, but it would be in the best interests of a claim for compensation for death during surgery if he were to speak with a solicitor at the earliest possible opportunity.
Please accept our condolences for your sad loss.