Nothing can ever make up for the unexpected death of a loved one, but lawyers can at least see to it that compensation is paid where it is due. In one case, a widow who blamed her husband’s sudden death during a football match on clinical negligence received six-figure damages.
The middle-aged man was suffering from undiagnosed coronary artery disease and was playing in goal when he suffered a sudden, lethal heart arrhythmia. Prior to his death he had consulted two GPs, complaining of chest pains. His family alleged that the GPs were negligent in failing to appreciate the gravity of his condition and that they should have referred him to a specialist cardiac unit.
The GPs denied breach of duty, also disputing whether a referral would have made any difference to the tragic outcome. Their lawyers pointed out that the man’s last relevant GP appointment took place two and a half months before he died. The value of the family’s loss of financial dependency claim was also contentious in that the man had been made redundant shortly before his death.
Following negotiations, however, the family secured a £450,000 lump-sum settlement of the claim. Of that sum, £21,000 was set aside for each of the man’s three children and £383,000 for his widow. The £4,000 balance was paid to the man’s estate to reflect his own pain and suffering. The High Court approved the settlement and praised the widow’s fortitude in coming to terms with her husband’s death. Thanks to her efforts, the children were thriving.