A Coroner may hold an inquest to establish the cause of an unexpected death, for example, when a cause of death is unknown or appears to be violent or unnatural. If a person has died as a result of a personal injury accident or medical negligence, the family can be legally represented at the inquest.
An inquest is very different to a standard Court hearing. An inquest is a public hearing and can be headed by the Coroner alone, or with a jury. The Coroner’s job is to carry out an investigation into how the death arose. The purpose of an inquest is not to allay blame or award compensation, but to determine who has died, where and when this occurred and how it happened. However, the Coroner’s findings can be useful in a subsequent claim for compensation on behalf of the person’s estate.
The Coroner can question witnesses and obtain evidence into the person’s life and medical treatment. Questions can also be raised by interested parties such as family members at the inquest.
The Coroner can return a variety of verdicts including natural causes, accident or misadventure and unlawful killing. The Coroner can also return an open verdict where cause of death cannot be established or a narrative verdict, where the Coroner comments on the main issues surrounding the person’s death. In addition, the Coroner can also make recommendations to any person or authority such as a hospital to take action to prevent similar deaths happening in the future.
If your partner or a close family member has died, but you suspect this could have been prevented, you may wish to pursue a claim for negligence against the responsible party.
At Express Solicitors, we have experience of providing advice and assistance regarding the inquest process. We instruct barristers to attend inquests and our personal injury specialists guide families through the compensation process. Attending an inquest ensures that questions are asked on behalf of the family and the estate in relation to the accident or negligence, and specifically in relation to whether there is a causal link between the accident and the person’s death.