An inquest is controlled/led/chaired by a Coroner. The Coroner is appointed by the local authority. The Coroner is usually a lawyer or a qualified medical practitioner.
In the main an inquest will be held in front of the Coroner alone, but there are certain special circumstances where an inquest must be held in front of a jury. This is usually when the individual has died whilst detained under the care of the state, perhaps in prison or on a mental health ward.
Does an Inquest provide a verdict? Yes. The purpose of the inquest is to answer four questions about an individual’s death: who?, where? when? and how? The first three questions are, usually, straightforward to answer. The verdict at an inquest is the answer to the question “how?”
The Coroner has a list of verdicts that they can choose from, examples include, natural causes, accident or misadventure, lawful killing and unlawful killing. Suicide is also a verdict. However, if the cause of death is not clear the Coroner will return an “open” verdict.
It is important to remember that whether or not clinical negligence was a factor in your relative’s death will not be determined at the inquest. The inquest does not look into whether someone in particular is responsible for the death. However, there are circumstances in which the Coroner, or the jury, if there is one, may give a narrative verdict, which is, in effect, a longer explanation of their findings. A narrative verdict is a very powerful way of exposing any problems or mistakes that have been made and we always encourage Coroners to give as much extra detail as possible.
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.