Can You Get Compensation Even If You Are Terminally Ill?

Can one receive compensation while being terminally ill?

The answer to this question is yes. We recently settled a claim in which our 65 year old client, Margaret who has terminal cancer received a generous compensation pay out.

The Facts

Margaret has been diagnosed with breast cancer and was undergoing her first cycle of chemotherapy when the medical negligence act occurred. Margaret had a device inserted in her chest through which a needle would be inserted and the chemotherapy given. Unfortunately due to a number of negligent aspects, the chemotherapy drug leaked into the surrounding tissue of Margaret’s chest and resulted in a severe burn to her breast and chest. After an agonizing 15 months Margaret eventually had to have the breast removed due to the chemical burns.

Margaret came to see our firm and we began our investigations, obtaining medical records and reports and an expert report from a nurse regarding whether the treatment provided to Margaret was appropriate.

Unfortunately Margaret’s cancer had spread and we received a report from her oncologist that outlined her limited life expectancy of only a few years. This allowed us to get an expedited trial date. However the matter did not reach the trial, as we were able to settle it at mediation.

Why Margaret won?

Both parties had an expert report from a nurse that provided an opinion on the nursing care provided. Interestingly the report from the Defendant’s expert was supportive for Margaret and explained there were a number of reasons that the care provided to Margaret in administering the chemotherapy was wrong. Some of the issues were as follows:

  • Margaret should have continuously been monitored and in the nurses’ line of sight, which didn’t occur;
  • Margaret was allowed to get up and go to the bathroom, which likely dislodged the infusion. The nursing staff should have advised her that she was to remain completely still;
  • When Margaret returned from the bathroom, the needle that was in place to provide the chemotherapy agent should have been thoroughly to checked to ensure it still remained in place;
  • The method of administering the chemotherapy agent used was inappropriate and an alternative method should have been used;
    When Margaret began complaining of a burning sensation there was a delay of approximately 10 minutes before the infusion was stopped.

Because of this expert report the Defendant’s position was significantly undermined and the Defendant was eager to settle the matter. Through negotiations we were able to achieve a generous amount of compensation for Margaret.

What did Margaret receive?

Margaret received a net amount of $150,000 to herself for her pain and suffering she suffered over 15 months and the loss of her breast. She also received compensation for her related medical expenses.

Conclusion

People often think that if they are suffering from pre-existing unrelated health conditions or have a terminal illness that they may not be able to receive compensation for a medical mistake that occurs in their treatment, but this is incorrect.

This settlement demonstrates that pre-existing illness or a terminal illness should not deter anyone from pursuing legal action when they have received poor medical treatment.

Margaret’s settlement clearly demonstrates that compensation can still be generous even if you only have a limited life expectancy.

If you feel that you have received medical care, treatment or advice that was inappropriate and has led to an injury, please contact Henry Carus + Associates and we can assist you in receiving compensation that you deserve.