The bulk of a €28,000 distress for wrongful death compensation payment is being made to the niece of an 89-year-old woman who allegedly died due to a bacterial infection.
Presiding Judge Justice Garrett Simons ruled that, once €7,890 for funeral expenses is accounted for, the niece should get the remainder of the compensation pay out.
The niece submitted a fatal injuries claim against the nursing home her aunt had been living in, and also a Dublin hospital shortly, before she passed away in 2009. The overall total of the claim being €33,290.
Her Aunt, allegedly died due to a bacterial infection which causes diarrhoea and colitis. Officially, the coroner recorded death as due to “health care-acquired” clostridium difficile infection.
Prior to her death, her aunt resided in a nursing home up until a month before her passing. At this time, in October 2009, she was admitted to a Dublin hospital. She was sent back to the nursing home in early November before being returned to the hospital on November 23 shortly before she passed away later that day.
Her niece took the wrongful death compensation action against the nursing home and the hospital pleading due to severe mental distress due to the death. The defence fully contested the claims that were made.
A settlement offer of €28,000 was made and accepted in 2015 and the High Court was then asked to rule on whether the offer was reasonable. However, as the deceased woman’s sister died in the interim, August 2016, the court also had to rule whether the settlement should go entirely to the niece or to the aunt’s sister. This was due to the fact that, as a surviving dependent at the time the woman died, the sister was entitled to a share of the solatium.
Mr Justice Simons said that he believed the best course of action in this case would be to direct the full amount of compensation to be paid to the niece as sole surviving statutory dependent. He ruled the €28,000 settlement was reasonable and after the €7,890 has been paid out for the funeral, the balance of the stress in relation to wrongful death should go to the niece.