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“Mrs A” recovered £20,000

“Mr A” (the deceased husband) was a voluntary mental healthcare patient. There was no negligence in relation to his care. He left Hospital as a voluntary patient as he was entitled to do and returned to the family home where he doused his wife “Mrs A” in petrol and attempted to set fire to her.

Mrs A escaped, but the deceased (Mr A) set fire to himself and burnt the house down with him in it. This was witness by Mrs A and 3 children although some children witnessed more than others.

Mrs A said that she was given assurances that she would be contacted by the Hospital if Mr A left. If this had happened, she would have left the home with the children and gone to a friend’s house avoiding the resulting situation.

This was a difficult case with no precedents to follow. We argued that the Hospital did not give Mrs A assurances directly but via a social worker. When Mr A turned up at the house Mrs A decided to go out and leave him with the children for a number of hours before returning later when he set fire to the house. Mrs A said that this was because at the time he looked well and the children were pleased to see him, but that if they had been telephoned beforehand, and warned of his leaving the hospital, she would have been wary and wouldn’t have left the home.

Mrs A and the children suffered psychiatric injuries as a result of (in the children’s case) seeing their mother doused in petrol and in the case of Mrs A and the children watching their husband/father die in horrific circumstances.

The hospital denied liability and we were approaching trial when after some negotiation we settled the claim for £20,000.