Deaths From Medication Errors – Could I Claim Compensation?

By Jo Stratton. Last Updated 12th July 2023. In this guide, we will look at when compensation claims could be valid following deaths from medication errors. If your loved one has lost their life as a result of medical negligence, then you might be able to claim. 

Healthcare professionals owe their patients a duty of care. This means that they must provide a minimum care standard. Additionally, they should reduce the risk of their patients coming to unnecessary harm.

deaths from medication errors

Deaths from medication errors claims guide

If it can be proven that they neglected this duty and the patient experienced unnecessary harm as a result, they could make a medical negligence claim.  In some cases, a patient might die as a result of a medication error caused by negligence. In this guide, we will look at the process of claiming on behalf of a deceased loved one. 

If you decide to claim compensation for a fatal medication error, you may find that a medical negligence solicitor could help. We look at how No Win No Fee agreements can be used to fund the work of legal representation.

Contact our advisors with any questions if your loved one passed away due to a fatal medication error. They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

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Select A Section

  1. What Are Deaths From Medication Errors?
  2. How Medication Errors Could Be Fatal
  3. Who Could Claim For Deaths Caused By A Medication Error?
  4. How To Claim If A Loved One Died Due To A Medication Error
  5. What Could You Claim For Deaths From Medication Errors?
  6. No Win No Fee Claims Fatal Medication Errors

What Are Deaths From Medication Errors?

Adverse drug reactions (ADRs) occur when medications, both prescription and over-the-counter, react badly with a patient. Adverse drug reactions could lead to deaths from medication errors. 

Harm could occur when a patient is given the wrong medication, or a patient is given the correct medication but at the wrong dosage. This might make the patient ill in a way they weren’t before, or a lack of treatment could cause their condition to progress. 

To avoid a fatal medication error, it is expected that healthcare professionals adhere to the duty of care that they owe in providing the right level of care. If a breach of this duty of care causes a patient to pass away, you could be entitled to claim on behalf of the deceased. 

Further into this guide, we will look at who could make a wrongful death compensation claim. We’ll also investigate what you will need to prove as part of the claim. 

Our advisors can discuss the circumstances leading up to your loved one’s fatal medication error. Get in touch today for free legal advice. 

How Many Deaths Are Caused By Medication Errors?

According to a study on the prevalence and clinical and economic burden of medication error in England published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) an estimated 237 million medication errors occur each year. It is estimated that these contribute to 1,708 yearly deaths. 

How Medication Errors Could Be Fatal

Deaths from medication errors could occur due to a variety of reasons. Examples include:

  • Allergic reaction
  • Overdose or underdose
  • Medications interacting with each other
  • Being given the wrong drug

Not every fatal medication error is down to medical negligence. In order to make a medical negligence compensation claim, you must have evidence that the healthcare professional neglected their duty of care. This means that you must prove that the healthcare provider failed to meet a minimum quality of care and this failure caused your loved one’s death. We will look at who can claim after a loved one dies due to clinical negligence in the next section. 

If you would like to know more about the process of claiming for deaths from medication errors, our advisors provide free legal advice. 

Who Could Claim For Deaths Caused By A Medication Error?

Under the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, certain relatives are eligible to claim compensation should their loved one die from a medical error caused by negligence. These include:

  • A husband, wife, civil partner or someone living with the deceased for two years prior to their death as a husband or wife. This also includes the former spouse of the deceased. 
  • Parent or step-parent, or anyone who the deceased treated like a parent. 
  • A child or step-child, or anyone who the deceased treated like a child. 
  • Siblings, aunts or uncles or any nieces or nephews. 

It’s important to note that any of the relatives above can claim for the impact that the deceased’s death has had. However, in claims for death from medication errors, the pain and suffering of the deceased can only be claimed for by the deceased’s estate, according to the Law Reform (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 1934.  

Fatal medical negligence claims must be made within the time limit. You are typically given three years to start a fatal medication error claim from the date of your loved one’s death or three years from the date you became aware that your loved one died due to a medication error. The latter might apply if, for example,  the negligence was only revealed to be a cause of death following a post-mortem. 

Exceptions do apply to the time limits for deaths from medication errors claims. Get in touch with our team to see if you’re still within the time limit for claiming. 

How To Claim If A Loved One Died Due To A Medication Error

In order to claim for a fatal medication error, you will need evidence that the medical care your loved one received fell below a minimum standard. This negligence must have caused their death. 

Following deaths from medication errors, certain steps can be taken that could help support a fatal medication error claim. 

These include:

  • Request medical records. Your relative’s medical records may contain details about the medication given and the adverse drug reactions experienced.
  • Obtain a coroner’s report. A coroner’s report may link your loved one’s death to a fatal medication error. 
  • Seek the advice of a legal professional. A medical negligence lawyer could advise on what evidence could be submitted to support your fatal medication error claim. They could also ensure that your avoidable medication death claim is started before the claim time limit runs out. 

Speak to our medical negligence advisors today about claiming for your loved one’s death caused by the wrong medication or another kind of medication error. 

What Could You Claim For Deaths From Medication Errors?

Different factors make up the settlements in claims for deaths from medication errors. You may be able to claim for funeral costs, loss of dependency and a bereavement award. As we have already mentioned, a claim could also include compensation for the suffering experienced by your loved one before their death. 

To help calculate the compensation awarded for the suffering your loved one experienced in the lead-up to their death, legal professionals will use the Judicial College Guidelines (JCG). This is a document that provides guideline brackets based on previous awards. However, it is worth remembering that every claim is different, therefore it should only be used for illustrative purposes. We’ve provided the figures from the latest version of the JCG below. 

SufferingPotential CompensationNotes
Fatality Plus Add On ClaimsUp to £550,000 and overThis could include compensation for the deceased's pain and suffering as well as any losses affecting the dependents.
Very Severe Brain Damage £282,010 to £403,990The injured person lacks any meaningful response to their environment and will need full time nursing care.
Quadriplegia/tetraplegia£324,600 to £403,990The highest end of this bracket is applicable to cases where physical pain is present and there has been a significant effect on the ability to communicate and senses.
Paraplegia£219,070 to £284,260Pain severity, awareness, mental impact, age and life expectancy will impact the award.
Severe Psychological Harm £54,830 to £115,730The injured person cannot cope with life and relationships due to the mental harm suffered.
Severe Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder£59,860 to £100,670Permanent effects will prevent the person from functioning and working as they did pre-trauma.
Injuries Resulting in Death - Full Awareness£12,540 to £23,810The person will be fully aware of their injuries before suffering with fluctuating levels of consciousness between 4-5 weeks, and then dying within a couple of weeks to 3 months.

Other Compensation For Fatal Medical Negligence Claims

Other forms of compensation that could be awarded in fatal medical negligence claims include:

  • Dependency – The loss of past and future earnings of the deceased that they provided towards the household.
  • Funeral costs.
  • Loss of consortium – This accounts for losses that cannot be quantified financially elsewhere. It covers things like loss of companionship.
  • Loss of services – Examples include if the deceased was helping with home DIY and childcare.

Certain relatives could also be eligible to receive a bereavement award. Under Section 1A of the Fatal Accidents Act 1976, this amount is set out as £15,120. It can be awarded to:

  • A wife, husband or civil partner.
  • Someone who cohabited with the deceased as husband and wife for 2 years prior to their death.
  • A parent of an unmarried minor.

If you have questions about compensation payouts in claims for fatal medical errors, you can contact an advisor. They may also connect you with a solicitor on our panel who has experience with claims for death due to medical errors in the UK.

No Win No Fee Claims Fatal Medication Errors

If you decide to seek compensation for a fatal medication error, you may wish to do so with the support of a medical negligence solicitor. You could hire a No Win No Fee medical negligence solicitor. Their legal services could be funded under a Conditional Fee Agreement (CFA)

If using a CFA, you won’t be charged an upfront solicitors fee. A success fee is taken from the awards of successful clinical negligence claims instead. A legal cap applies to the percentage that can be taken as a success fee. If your fatal medical negligence claim is not successful, you will not have to pay for the services of your No Win No Fee lawyer. 

Our team can answer your questions about bringing a claim following a loved one’s death due to medical negligence. If you wish to proceed and your fatal medication error claim seems like has a good chance of succeeding, you could be passed onto our panel of No Win No Fee solicitors. 

Talk to our advisors about deaths from medication errors today:

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Writer Danielle Bibby

Publisher Fern Stiles