Fatal mischance litigation can give rise to excessively specific problems in the context of clinical carelessness.   All fatal accidents unceasingly throw up their own unique problems.  Recent cases accept demonstrated a number of particular areas of disquiet for all practitioners, but particularly those instructed at which place medical negligence has caused, or hastened, departure.


The cases highlight a run over of issues:

Pain and suffering previous to death.

Knowledge of reduced life abeyance.

Causation: there could be clear laches but it has to be proven that this defect caused the death.

The burden of certification and causation.

Damages when the slackness “accelerates” the death.

Funeral expenses then death is accelerated.

Psychiatric injuries to others arising from the decease.

These cases demonstrate the real difficulties despite those undertaking fatal accident litigation in the words immediately preceding of clinical negligence.

(This post is adapted from one article that originally appeared in Personal Injury Focus).


In Kadir –v- Mistry [2014] EWCA Civ 1177 the Court of Appeal made it unsullied that the burden is on a claimant to evince increased pain and suffering as a inference of clinical negligence, even when that omission had led to early death.

The putting on the boards was brought on behalf of the class of a women who had died old 32 of gastric cancer.   The inadvertence of the GPs meant that treatment that should have taken place in June 2007 did not take degree in order until March 2008.

The defendant was arguing that the gone suffered less because of the fault. The gruelling treatment started later. Indeed the defendant was arguing that in that place should be some sort of “clique off” for the decreased period of displease and suffering.

The trial judge declined to assign damages for the pain and distress sustained by the deceased on the lees that the claimant had failed to fix that that the deceased suffered from ~ one symptoms which she would not receive suffered in any event. There was none evidence to establish that the symptoms lasted in ~ degree longer.

The Court of Appeal upheld the determination not to award damages for uneasiness and suffering. However it was held that the Court could, at the very time in the absence of specific ground of belief, the court could infer knowledge of reduced life expectance.   Lord Justice Laws held that fine of £3,500 could be awarded up~ that basis.

“It seems to me certain on the material that we be favored with seen that the evidence gave ascend to a proper inference that Mrs Begum feared in successi~ good objective grounds that her life had been or may desire been curtailed by the respondent’s failure to diagnose her circumstances earlier. The appellant was not required to evince that his wife knew her life expectancy had been reduced because the respondents had been negligent”

It is grave to note that this was not a finding that pain and suffering cannot exist awarded in these circumstances. It was a discovery that pain and suffering has to be proven by evidence. The trial estimate had this to say in dependency to the evidence in relation to anguish and suffering.

“It [the testimony of pain and suffering] is extremely limited. It

falls farther short, it seems to me, of the evidence which one would normally

expect to experience from somebody suffering from a limit illness giving

evidence about how they handle being in that position and the afflict and

anguish to which that has given a~. The fact of the matter is that

in the end this is for the claimant to make trial of upon the balance of

possibilities and in that place has been ample opportunity to execute so, and the

evidence in connection to that is extremely thin indeed, too thin to establish a

claim about the balance probabilities.”



In Brown –v- Hamid [2013] EWHC 4067 (QB) departure was accelerated by a period of 12 months proper to a failure to diagnose a pulmonic embolism.  Damages took into enumeration the following factors:

The deceased would get been suffering from relatively mild symptoms becoming to the pre-existing condition. However he would not have gone on to develop the intense symptoms.

It was apparent from Mrs Brown’s attest statement that her husband suffered forcible distress and anxiety as a termination of the delayed diagnosis.

Damages of £8,000 on account of pain and suffering were awarded.

Awards were made conducive to loss of earnings (for a 12 month cycle) and diy.

The sum of £250 conducive to the costs of medical consultations with the defendant was awarded.

However nay award was made for

Care; make a tour; accommodation and other expenses as they would obtain been incurred soon afterwards in a single one event.

Loss of value of home (right to forced sale).

Loss of consortium.

No assign of funeral expenses

Controversially the deem declined to award funeral expenses:

“However even if damages for the recovery of burial rites

expenses “may” be recovered and indeed usually are recovered in the state s.3(5) of the1976 Act, in the attendant conditions of this case, namely the hastening of the symptoms associated with a pre-existing situation by a relatively short period of time, I effect not consider that it would subsist appropriate to make such an award.”

This begs the question – by what mode long must the period of acceleration be before funeral expenses will subsist awarded (since we will all die eventually).


Matters of ground of belief and causation were at the antecedent in Davies –v- Countess of Chester Hospital [2014] EWHC 4294. Here the claimant established rift of duty in the wrongful the government of magnesium.

“The pharmacology experts be in actual possession of agreed that the immediate cause of Mr Davies’ dying was the administration of magnesium, and that the distribution was a serious clinical failure. However, the Claimant, to succeed ~ward this claim, would have to speciousness, on a balance of probabilities, that Mr Davies would be under the necessity survived for a substantial period allowing that the magnesium had not been administered.”

Put bluntly the claimant failed to establish that appropriate treatment would have led to survival according to a substantial period.


The claimant was in greater numbers successful in Hayes –v- South East Coast Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust [2015] EWHC 18 (QB). The arrive at the truth found that the patient should possess been given  ipratropium, salbutamol and adrenaline through the ambulance crew. (There are pleasing observations about the nature of the defendant’s able evidence in that case)

If the the ministry of adrenaline in a life-threatened asthma sufferer would have no additional beneficial drift over and above the inhaled salbutamol than it is real difficult to see why the guidelines, Dr Scott, Dr Moore and Professor Empey completely support it albeit in varying position.

It seems to me that the reason behind this view is that Professor Barnes focused very heavily on the contrast between these guidelines and the UK Asthma Guidelines and the latter’s force of utterance on evidence-based recommendation. The prove I have heard was to the general that in an out of hospital locality where there can be no randomised controlled trials not least for ethical reasons there could not have existence truly evidence-based guidelines. Professor Barnes’ see would arguably lead to a place in which since there could solely be a very limited number of evince-based guidelines for ambulance technicians they would not get a complete set of guidelines to follow. The UK Asthma Guidelines themselves direct attention to an injected beta-2 agonist and adrenaline is a beta-2 agonist. It is totally correct to say that the UK Asthma Guidelines propose there is very limited evidence to go through the benefit of such treatment. It is conspicuous that this is correct. However, the logic here is that like salbutamol and ipratropium the design in such a severe asthma spring upon is to open up the airways. Injected adrenaline would achieve this to some degree. Professor Barnes accepted that injected adrenaline would fetch the airways and would do to such a degree in 30 seconds. In his explore, it would have some, albeit “true small” beneficial effect.

I had some concerns about Professor Barnes’ evidence. It seemed to me that ~ the agency of failing to specifically point out that he had been Mr Hayes’ treating instructor (indeed referring to himself in the third person), by commenting on breach of duty and by devoting so much of his conception to the issue of compliance he gave the seeming of trying very hard to act as aid to the Defendant’s case rather than assisting the Court since an independent expert should.

The inquiry therefore is whether or not Mr Hayes would put ~ a balance of probabilities have survived had the crew taken the steps which I have identified they should hold done. Professor Empey is clear that the hope of survival would have been 60%. On that separation the Claimant would succeed.


In Wild –v- Southampton University Hospital NHS Trust [2014] EWHC 4053 (QB) the pass judgment rejected a claim for damages since a father. The father’s babe had died in the womb considered in the state of a result of clinical negligence.   A claim ~ means of the mother was admitted and forfeiture agreed. The claim by the endow or supply with a ~ failed.  The judge concluded:-

“The precedents have driven me to conclude through reluctance that Mr Wild cannot forward the facts succeed in his claim as far as concerns damages which must therefore be dismissed. It would subsist difficult to argue that that is a sound outcome but, as Lord Oliver declared in Alcock at page 417 in narrative to the submission that a go to see to the mortuary several hours following the tragedy should be treated for the re~on that part of the immediate aftermath: “To impart the notion of proximity in cases of closely created nervous shock to this to a greater degree elongated and, to some extent, looking back process may seem a logical similar development. But … the mosaic code in this area is not utterly logical.” The same may subsist said about an extension to a clinical negligence  box where the first possible manifestation of the consequences is at the time medical staff discover that the infant. has already died in the womb.”


In Brock  & Brock –v- Northampton General Hospital NHS Trust [2014] EWHC 4244 (QB) the try rejected a claim for “powerful shock” brought by parents who were alleging shortcoming on the part of two hospital trusts. One of the trusts (Birmingham) admitted negligence but denied causation. The judge mould that:-

The claimants’ case rested up~ events following a telephone call.

The designate itself could not give rise to exposedness.

The grief and sense of injury that every parent will suffer while a child dies is insufficient to rest liability. There has to be a vulnerary experience akin to witnessing an chance.

There was no such traumatic actual trial in this case.

Although the parents unless suffered psychiatric problems brought about by their daughter’s death this was unqualified to establish liability.


The event of damages to a living claimant whose decease has been greatly accelerated due to fault is one that is always separately troubling.  Be very wary of subsidence such cases. In particular be excessively aware that there is only common cause of action. If a ecclesiastical ~ claimant settles their case for thoughtlessness it is not possible for that claimant’s fortune to bring a later action with respect to fatal accident damages following the end of life.  This is precisely what happened in Thompson –v- Arnold [2007] EWHC 1875 (QB). The claimant’s petitioner settled an action for a living claimant, the victim of clinical shortcoming. The solicitor was unaware that it was not potential to bring a second action hinder death. The defendant, well aware of the claimant’s solicitor’s wrong belief, readily settled the action in the victim’s lifetime. The encourage action was struck out.  The defendant had taken vantageground of the claimant’s mistake boundary the conduct was not unconscionable.


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Tags: Bereavement, Clinical heedlessness, damages, Damages for distress, Death, Dependency, Fatal Accidents Act 1976, Law

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