The Price of a Life

Published: 25th May 2017

A man from Barnsley was admitted to hospital with water on the lungs, an enlarged spleen, fluid around the heart and weight loss.

There were numerous possible reasons for his symptoms, including Tuberculosis.  Unfortunately, his samples were not originally tested for TB. And when did receive a positive test for TB, an administrative error meant that the result was not recorded in his records.

Even without positive tests, the NICE guidelines require anti TB treatment to be started as soon as possible just in case. However, in this case the treatment started far later than it should have been, and the patient ended up dying.

The patient’s widow approached Liddys Solicitors to represent her. Our first step was to obtain a report from a consultant specialising in TB. His report concluded that if the patient had been given the anti TB treatment one week or more before he died he would have made a full recovery and would have survived for a further eight years.

To its credit, the hospital admitted full liability after we had sent a letter of claim and damages were eventually agreed at £60,000.

If the patient had died unmarried and childless, the damages for his death would have been nothing.  Because he left a widow, damages for his death were £12,980. The rest of the damages were made up of damages for his discomfort prior to this death which were valued at £15,000, his funeral expenses and damages for the fact that he was no longer there to help his wife with everyday tasks such as cooking, cleaning, gardening and driving his wife to appointments. There were also damages for his wife’s loss of companionship as they had been married over thirty years.

We have settled claims involving the death of an individual at over £500,000 and have settled other claims for the death of an individual at £2,500.

Unfortunately, the law makes no sense when valuing a person’s life.  If a person does not leave a surviving spouse or children under 18, the damages are likely to be very limited.

If you or a family member believes that they have suffered clinical negligence, telephone Liddys Solicitors on 01924 780 753.