Which Deaths Are Reported to the Coroner?
11 July 2019
There are a number of reasons why a death may be reported to the coroner. For example, if the death was caused by a third party (e.g. through medical or clinical negligence), was unexpected or the cause of death is unknown then it will be reported to the coroner, but these are not the only reasons.
If a loved one's death is reported to the coroner, then this can be confusing and unnerving, but it needn't be. It's more common than you may think for a death to be reported to the coroner, and currently around 45% of all deaths in the UK are.
A death will be reported to the coroner if it falls into any of the following categories:
- The cause of death is unknown
- The cause of death is unnatural or violent
- The cause of death is unexplained
- The death was sudden or unexpected
- A medical practitioner did not see the individual during their final illness
- The individual was under general anaesthetic when they died
- The medical certificate indicates that industrial disease or industrial poisoning could have contributed to the death
- There's no medical certificate or, if there is, the doctor who signed it didn't see the individual in the 14 days leading up to or after the death
Common situations in which a death will be reported to the coroner include:
- When a death has occurred as a result of medical negligence
- When someone dies in a road accident
- When someone dies in an accident at work
- When a death has occurred as a result of industrial disease (such as asbestosis)
- When someone dies because of an accident in a public place
Once a death has been reported to the coroner, their role is to establish the facts of the death, such as who has died, when they died and how they died.
Will an Inquest Hearing Always Be Held?
In order to establish the facts of the death, the coroner may decide that an inquest needs to be held. This is not always the case, as they may be able to establish the necessary facts without the need for an inquest. This information may be determined either by carrying out initial inquiries or through the post-mortem findings (if one is carried out).
If the facts of the death have not been determined in this way, however, then the coroner will hold an inquest. There are also two situations in which an inquest will always need to be held, regardless of whether the facts of the death have been determined by the post-mortem or initial inquiries.
- When there's a possibility that the cause of death was violent or unnatural
- When the death occurred while the individual was in prison or police custody
If someone has died as a result of an accident or medical negligence, then this will fall into the category of an unnatural death, so an inquest will always be held in these instances.
Legal Support and Representation during an Inquest
If you are facing an inquest into the death of a loved one and you need legal support and representation, our Coroner and Inquest Solicitors can help you.
We can provide you with comprehensive advice on exactly what to expect during the inquest process and explain what you'll need to do. We can also represent you at the inquest hearing, liaise with the coroner on your behalf and conduct a thorough review of all relevant evidence and documentation in advance of the hearing date.
If the evidence heard at the inquest suggests that your loved one's death was caused as a result of someone else's actions or negligence it will usually be possible to purse a compensation claim. Our specialist Serious Injury Solicitors and Medical Negligence Solicitors can pursue these negligence cases on your behalf.
We can deal with most inquest hearings on a no win no fee basis as part of the compensation claim.