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Secondary Victim Compensation - William's Story

Secondary victim compensation William story

Man awarded compensation after witnessing the aftermath of his partner setting herself alight while an in-patient at hospital

William’s partner, Jane, who suffered with epilepsy, was admitted to Northampton General Hospital after having a seizure. Whilst on the ward she had been found displaying irrational and strange behaviour, such as picking up other patients’ notes and interfering with their intravenous drips. In addition, Jane had been expressing paranoid views that people were trying to kill her.

Despite this alarming behaviour, the hospital staff did not implement one to one observation of Jane and allowed her to have the curtains drawn around her bed. This meant that they were unable to readily observe her. Sadly, Jane managed to obtain a lighter and set fire to her clothing with devastating consequences.

William received a telephone call from the hospital in the early hours of the morning telling him that he should attend immediately as Jane was to be transferred to a different hospital. He was not informed of the reason and assumed that it was because of the deterioration in her health.

When he arrived at the hospital, he went straight to the bed where his partner had been for the past couple of days. He was very shocked by what he saw and the extent of Jane’s burns injuries.  Witnessing this had a profound impact upon William and as a consequence of this shock, he went on to develop a psychiatric injury.

Whilst the NHS Litigation Authority has recently chosen to vigorously defend claims of secondary victims who have witnessed their loved ones suffering from negligent treatment, William’s solicitor Andrea Rusbridge, an expert in clinical negligence claims at Shoosmiths, managed to secure an out of court settlement in his favour.