What is an Inquest? An inquest is an inquiry into the facts relating to how a person has died.
It is an investigation, led by a Coroner, into four things only:
- who the person was
- where they died
- when they died
- how they died
An inquest is not like other court hearings. The Coroner is not allowed to decide any issues of civil or criminal liability. They are not allowed to lay blame for an individual’s death at anyone’s door. An inquest is simply a fact finding exercise and it is important that relatives understand the nature of the proceedings and the narrow scope that an inquest has. It will only answer those four questions mentioned above.
How We Can Help: There are a number of ways in which we can help:
- Liaising with the staff at the Coroner’s office
- Helping the family to prepare for the inquest
- Appearing at the inquest on their behalf, and
- If not instructed to appear, we can sometimes help the family gather evidence and advise them on questions they can ask at the inquest
It is important that the solicitor you choose to work with has experience of representing families at inquests and also has experience of clinical negligence work, if, for example, the family believe that negligent medical treatment may have contributed to their relative’s death.
If you are concerned that the treatment your family member has received from a hospital, doctor or other healthcare provider has caused or contributed to their death, then a clinical negligence solicitor can assist you in preparing for and attending the inquest with a view to investigating a clinical negligence claim based on the evidence provided at the inquest.
When will an Inquest be held? There are a number of circumstances when an inquest will be held. The general rule is when the cause of death is uncertain, unexpected or unnatural. A death can be referred to the Coroner by a doctor, the police or the Registrar of Deaths, but, just because a death has been referred to the Coroner does not mean that an inquest will always be held. The Coroner will examine the evidence and decide whether an inquest is necessary.
If you have concerns about the manner or circumstances in which a relative died then you, or your solicitor, can contact the Coroner directly to share your views and concerns about your relative’s death. The Coroner will consider your view but ultimately they have the final say as to whether an inquest will take place.
The TSP Clinical Negligence team has great experience representing families at inquests. Contact us here to find out more.
To help you understand whether a claim may be possible and to explain the steps in the process the Clinical Negligence team at TSP have put together a comprehensive guide to Medical Negligence claims.
In the guide you will find detailed information about the different types of Medical Negligence claim and what to do if you believe you or a family member have been a victim of Medical Negligence. The guide also provides useful information about the steps in the Claim Process and the different funding options available.