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The Role of an Inquest in Clinical Negligence Claims

The Role of an Inquest in Clinical Negligence Claims

An inquest is sometimes held when a person has died and their death was either sudden and the cause is unknown, unnatural and or violent.

Depending on the circumstances of the death, a member of the family of the deceased can request the matter be referred to the Coroner or a hospital will refer the matter to the Coroner.

The purpose of an inquest is to find out the answer to 4 questions:

  1. The identity of the deceased
  2. Where they died
  3. When they died
  4. How they died

It is not to establish if negligence has occurred or to blame an individual or organisation such as a Hospital for the death, although inquests can be the start of clinical negligence proceedings.

Prior to the inquest, the coroner will gather the necessary evidence such as witness statements from the family of the deceased and the medical practitioners that were involved in the care/treatment and decide who will give evidence at the inquest.

At the inquest the Coroner will ask questions to each witness to help him/her understand the care/treatment provided and the cause of death.

Once all the evidence has been heard, the Coroner will arrive at conclusion regarding the death. There are a number of conclusions that can be considered such as a short form conclusion for example natural death or a narrative conclusion, where the Coroner will provide a detailed explanation of the death and the circumstances around it.

Following the inquest, it may be possible to bring a clinical negligence claim for compensation if there is any indication that negligence may have caused or contributed to the death.

It is not necessary to instruct a Solicitor to represent the bereaved family at the inquest. However, inquests can be very emotional and distressing for those involved, and instructing a Solicitor will help ensure that the process goes as smoothly as possible.

Here at Dutton Gregory Solicitors, we are not only able to assist at the time of inquest, but also advise your family of any potential clinical negligence claim as well. We have the experience and expertise to deal with both ares. 

If you want further information about this particular topic, or wish to discuss the possibility of bringing a Clinical Negligence claim, please contact the Dutton Gregory Clinical Negligence Team on 01202 315005, or email c.hayter@duttongregory.co.uk