We were approached by our client following the death of her husband, who informally admitted himself to a local mental health NHS Foundation Trust. He was subsequently found suspended by a ligature from his ensuite bathroom door a few weeks later.
The issues in relation to the case revolved around a number of risk factors for suicide, including a sense of hopelessness, a diagnosed depressive episode, three prior attempts at suicide, his father tragically dying in the months previous to the event, and exposure to the influence of others in a similar state via the internet. All of these factors were overlooked in relation to the care plan, observations, and monitoring of the psychiatric unit who had taken charge of his care. Furthermore, the deceased had access to means to commit suicide and was supposed to be subject to a 15-minute observation plan at the time of the incident. The last recorded observation was at 16:45 hours and he was found suspended at 17:20 hours, some 35 minutes since the last observation.
Initially, we represented the family at an inquest that investigated the circumstances of the death and important evidence was gleaned from that process, which helped to secure vital information to enable us to proceed with investigating a civil claim. We supported the family through the inquest process and helped them with their understanding of key questions that had concerned them since his death. Following the inquest, we advanced a claim against the hospital trust and set out the exact details of the allegations of clinical negligence, which resulted in a primary admission of breach of duty but causation was expressly reserved. The case involved dependency claims on behalf of the claimant and her children. Ultimately, the claim was compromised in the sum of £175,000.
The settlement will allow our client and her family to have some security for the future and reflect the dependency that they would have had but for the untimely death of the our client’s husband.
This was a case in which the family were initially just keen to learn more about what had happened. Clearly the issues involved were clouded by a large amount of emotion and as such the settlement negotiations and litigation needed to be handled sensitively, whilst still ensuring that the family recovered the full compensation they were entitled to.
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