Niece of 89-year-old who Allegedly Died Due to Bacterial Infection Awarded Majority of €28,000 Distress for Wrongful Death Trauma Compensation

The majority of a €28,000 distress for trauma due to wrongful death compensation payment is being issued to the niece of an 89-year-old woman who died due to a bacterial infection in 2009.

Judge Justice Garrett Simons gave a decision that, once €7,890 for funeral expenses are paid, the niece should get the rest of the compensation awarded.

The niece took a wrongful death compensation claim against the nursing home where her aunt had been residing, and also a Dublin hospital where she was treated just before she passed away. The overall total of the claim being €33,290.

It was claimed that her aunt died due to a bacterial infection which causes diarrhoea and colitis. The coroner recorded the official cause of death as due to “health care-acquired” clostridium difficile infection.

Before her untimely passing, her aunt was living in a nursing home up until a month before her death. In October 2009, she was admitted to a Dublin hospital for some medical treatment. She returned to the nursing home in early November before being readmitted to the hospital on November 23 just before she passed away lsome hours later.

Her niece took the wrongful death trauma compensation action due to severe mental distress she experienced due to the death of her aunt. The defendants refuted these claims.

A personal injury compensation settlement offer of €28,000 was offered and  accepted in 2015 and the High Court was then asked to rule on whether the offer was fair. However, as the deceased woman’s sister passed away since the offer was made, in August 2016, the court also had to decide whether the compensation settlement should all go to the niece or to the aunt’s sister. This was because, as a surviving dependent at the time the woman passed away, the sister was legally entitled to a share of her sister’s estate.

Mr Justice Simons said that he was of the opinion that the best course of action in this instance would be to direct the full amount of compensation to be paid to the niece as sole surviving statutory dependent. He said that the €28,000 settlement was fair and after the €7,890 funeral costs have been paid out, the remainder of the wrongful death related trauma compensation should go to the niece.