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Coronial Inquests

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

A coroner is a doctor or lawyer who is responsible for investigating deaths that occur in certain circumstances. He must be qualified in either the legal or medical field and has authority to determine who has died and how, when and where they died. The coroner can arrange for a post-mortem to be carried out in order for a body to be examined and the cause of death determined.
If a coroner carries out a legal investigation into the circumstances and causes of death this is known as an inquest.
Coroner’s Functions
The coroner is a government official who may be responsible for the following functions:
· Investigation of human deaths
· Determining the cause of human deaths
· Issuing death certificates
· Maintaining death records
· Identifying unknown dead
When is Death Reported to the Coroner?
Generally deaths are reported to the coroner either by the police or a doctor. Doctors will report death to the coroner if it occurred in the following circumstances:
· After an accident or injury
· Following an industrial disease
· During a surgical operation
· Before recovery from an anaesthetic
· If the cause of death is unknown
· If the death was violent or unnatural such as suicide or drug overdose
· If the death was sudden or unexplained
· If the deceased was not seen by the doctor issuing the medical certificate after they died or during the 14 days before the death
After a Death is Reported to the Coroner
The Formal Notice of death will note the fact that the doctor has referred the death to the coroner. The coroner then decides if further investigation is required in respect of the death.
Post Mortems
A post mortem is a medical examination carried out to discover more about the cause of death. If a post mortem is carried out the coroner must give permission for cremation.
An inquest is a legal inquiry into a death. It generally seeks to establish the circumstances and cause of death. Inquests into violent deaths, those that happen in police custody or those remaining inconclusive after a post-mortem, take place in public. Relatives may wish to attend an inquest and submit questions, for example where the death occurred at work or in a road traffic accident. In these circumstances it is usually recommended that lawyers represent the relatives.
If you would like further information or need help following the death of a relative, we have experienced lawyers who can help you. Please contact Sarah Vincent by email or by telephone 020 7611 4848.