Fatal Claims & Inquests

The loss of a loved one is one of the most traumatic events that can happen to someone. Fatal accidents can occur in unexpected circumstances including sub-standard medical care or treatment. If the death was the result of medical negligence, the deceased’s estate and dependants may be able to claim compensation.

Whilst compensation for the death of a family member can never make up for the loss, it will acknowledge the wrongs that occurred and provide financial support for your family going forward.

Compensation for the death may be available if:

If the death occurred under unclear or unusual circumstances an inquest may be required to help determine the cause of death. Our solicitors have in-depth knowledge of the inquest procedure and can advise you through the process.

To discuss your case contact Devonshires Claims’ compassionate and experienced medical negligence solicitors. We provide a free case evaluation to determine if you have strong grounds for a compensation claim. We support fatal accident cases with a ‘No Win No Fee’ agreement. This means that you can rest assured that there will be no upfront costs to start your claim and no costs to you, should your claim be unsuccessful*.

For more information or to start your free case evaluation, contact us today on 0333 900 8787, email admin@devonshiresclaims.co.uk or complete our online form.

Read Our FAQs

A person can make a fatal accident claim if a family member has died due to medical negligence. A common cause for a fatal accident claim is substandard care during hospitalisation, or avoidable complications from surgery. It can also result from the misdiagnosis of a serious condition such as cancer, sepsis and meningitis.

Under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, a spouse / civil partner or parent of a child under 18 can pursue a claim for wrongful death.

In order to make a fatal accidents medical negligence claim, it is necessary to establish that the medical professional:

  • Owed a duty of care to the deceased;
  • There was a breach of this duty of care;
  • This breach of duty directly resulted in  the death of a patient.

  1. Misdiagnosis or delayed diagnosis


  1. Negligent or sub-standard medical treatment

In general, the executor or administrator of the deceased’s estate should bring a fatal accident claim. The executor or the person named as administrator can make a claim on behalf of the deceased’s dependants.  However, there may be other persons entitled to bring a claim and we would advise anyone who thinks they may have a claim to speak to our legal advisers as soon as possible.

If it is possible to prove financial loss as a result of the person’s death, the following people may be able to bring claim:

  • The spouse of the deceased;
  • The civil partner of the deceased;
  • Anyone who lived with the deceased at the time of death and who had been living with them for at least two years prior and was dependant on them financially;
  • The parent of a child under 18;
  • A child under the age of 18

An executor or administrator can also make a claim on behalf of themselves or an entitled person for what is known as the bereavement award. The following are entitled to the bereavement award:

  • The surviving spouse of the deceased
  • They are the married parents or single mother of a deceased child (who is under the age of 18).

When the person who died leaves a will, the executor of the will has the right to bring a claim on behalf of the deceased’s estate. As the claim progresses, it may be necessary to obtain a grant of probate. Your solicitor will advise you about this as needed.

If the person died intestate (without leaving a will), then the claimant may need to obtain letters of administration, which will allow the person named in them to pursue a claim.

Whether either a grant of probate or letters of administration are necessary in your case, your solicitor will help you obtain the required documentation.

Whether the death occurred in a private health care facility or a National Health Service (NHS), a claim can be made if your family member died as a result of medical negligence.

Making a claim against the NHS for a death caused by medical negligence, typically involves bringing  a case against the NHS employee(s) in England and claiming compensation from the hospital and the health service.  This means that cases of ‘vicarious liability’ i.e. the employer (the NHS) can be liable for the acts or omissions of its employees if it can be shown that these took place in the course of the employment.

Of course, no amount of compensation can make up for the loss of a loved one. But understanding what happened and making sure that the responsible party is held accountable can be a comfort.  The compensation will also help you and your family financially and provide peace of mind for the future.

Devonshires Claims medical negligence experts will do our best to find out what happened and to help secure the justice and compensation you deserve.

In all compensation claims, the amount of compensation a person can receive is dependent on the details of their specific case. The following areas may be covered by a fatal claim:

  1. Pain, suffering, and loss of amenity (PSLA ) damages on behalf of the deceased, which includes compensation for their suffering due to negligence prior to death
  2. Losses encountered by the deceased prior to their death
  3. Loss of financial support to the family or other tangible care. This includes loss of the deceased earnings and projected earnings until retirement age.
  4. Loss of the deceased benefits (disability payments, pension)
  5. Loss of companionship
  6. Statutory bereavement award
  7. Funeral expenses

The only remedy for clinical or medical negligence provided for by law is financial compensation, but you may also be able to receive an apology from the medical facility or individual care provider who is responsible for your loved one’s death.

There is a lot to deal with after a loved one’s death, which is especially hard when you are grieving. If you believe that the death was caused by negligence and substandard care, it can add more distress to the situation.

An inquest is a fact-finding investigation. It is led by a coroner, who will work to determine the specific cause of death of your loved one. Inquests are not always held when someone dies. They are required in certain instances:

  • The death was unnatural or violent;
  • The cause of death is unknown;
  • The deceased died in custody or state detention.

When an inquest is opened, the family should be notified and kept informed and involved throughout the process.

An inquest is only designed to determine the cause of death. It does not directly lead to compensation.

A fatal accidents medical negligence claim can be made either before or after an inquest.

The claims process is designed to provide people with the opportunity to receive compensation when someone dies as a result of negligence on the part of a healthcare professional such as a GP, consultant, surgeon, dentist, anaesthetist, nurse or other medical professional.

In order for a fatal accidents claim to be successful, it must be proven that the care and treatment provided was not sufficient or appropriate, and that the inappropriate or insufficient treatment directly contributed to or caused the person’s death.

When an inquest finds evidence that suggests that substandard or negligent medical care led to a person’s death this can help in a subsequent claim for compensation.

The inquest’s conclusion is not necessarily the determining factor, and a compensation claim for the death of a loved one can still be brought even if the investigating coroner did not find that improper care caused the death.

The inquest does not take into consideration the wider circumstances of a case, because it is simply focused on identifying the immediate cause of death.

If the circumstances around a loved one’s death have led you to seek help in bringing a fatal accidents negligence claim, your solicitor can advise you on how to open an inquest. The majority of fatal accidents medical negligence claims are brought where there is no inquest hearing at all (as they are not required in all deaths). However, if you feel that an inquest ought to be opened in order to fully understand the circumstances of the death, Devonshires Claims medical negligence experts can advise you on how to proceed.

As explained above, bringing a fatal accidents claim is a separate process to the  inquest, and while inquests may provide some clarification on the circumstances of a family member’s death, they do not provide the following:

  • an admission of liability from the responsible party
  •  an apology, and
  • compensation.

While money isn’t likely to be the first thing on your mind after a loved one’s death, there are financial considerations involved, and it can be a huge relief to claim compensation after a death especially if the deceased was contributing to the family’s finances.

The sudden loss of income can be a huge cause for concern, and if they were responsible for childcare, other arrangements may need to be made as the family adjusts. While it is hard to think about these issues, it’s important to know that by bringing a fatal accidents medical negligence claim, it is possible to receive compensation that can help with these unexpected expenses so that you can focus on your family and their long term security.

If feel that your loved one died as a result of the negligent care or treatment provided by a medical professional (GP, dentist, consultant, surgeon, anaesthetist, nurse or other professional) you could be entitled to make a compensation claim.

Devonshires Claims solicitors accept fatal accidents medical negligence cases on a no-win no-fee basis. This means that there are no costs to pay if your case is unsuccessful*. If your claim is successful we will deduct an amount from the compensation awarded**. This deduction will be discussed with you.

For more information on our No Win – No Fee agreement please click here.

In order to determine if you have the grounds for a successful fatal accidents medical negligence claim, we advise our clients to prepare any supporting documents.

This would include:

  • Details of any medical reports or correspondence (letters, phone calls, emails etc)
  • Details of any conversations they had with medical professionals
  • Details of medical expenses and loss of income. This would include bills, receipts, proof of income of the deceased

Devonshires Claims medical negligence experts have extensive experience in obtaining compensation for families who have lost loved ones.


Why choose Devonshires Claims to support your fatal injury claim?

Compensation for the death of a loved one can help provide a more secure future for you and your family. At Devonshires Claims, we work hard to obtain justice for your family member as well as the compensation you need to rebuild your life. You can rest assured that you will be represented by some of the best medical negligence solicitors in the UK.

Our fatal injury claims experts provide:

  • A free no-obligation case evaluation
  • A ‘No Win – No Fee’ agreement
  • Access to a network of medical experts and specialist barristers
  • A team which works hard to secure justice and compensation for you and your family

For more information or to start your free case evaluation contact us today on 0333 900 8787, email admin@devonshiresclaims.co.uk or complete our online form.

Client Stories

£2 million compensation for negligent hospital treatment resulting in air embolism and stroke


Claim following removal of a central line with the patient sat in a chair. This led to an air embolism and stroke which caused a somatoform pain disorder and permanent disability.  This is one of the NHS’s 10 “never events.”


£2 million made up of compensation for the injury, past and future loss of earnings, care and equipment , treatment and the additional cost of suitable housing.

Compensation For the Failure to Diagnose a Brain Tumour: £350K Expected Payout


Legal Action following failure to diagnose a brain tumour.


Currently valued in excess of £350,000.

What our clients say:
Karen Cathcart worked extremely hard on my representation, she was friendly and accessible, and did make me feel that someone had ‘owned’ the problem. She did secure a good outcome. Consequently I would be more than happy to recommend Karen to friends and family. - P.G.
I would recommend Devonshires. I have had loads of help and Karen could not do more to help me. She was always friendly and always giving me the best advice possible. - J. Thrower
My experience of Devonshires and in Particular our solicitor dealing with our claim Jeanette Van- Cauter was very professional and kept us informed all through the process. - J.B.

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