Involvement of the coroner

If someone dies from an asbestos related disease, or there is a concern that a death is in some way linked to asbestos, an inquest or investigation into the death will be carried out by a coroner.

We understand that dealing with a coroner shortly after the loss of a relative can be very tough for families. Our asbestos claims team are happy to provide help and guidance throughout this difficult time.

In appropriate cases, we will also represent the family at the inquest.

Reporting a death to the coroner

A death is usually reported to the coroner by the medical staff treating the person who has died. This may include hospital staff or a GP.

If you suspect that the death is related to an asbestos disease and are concerned, then you must report the death to the coroner yourself. This is particularly important if there is an ongoing claim for compensation, as the coroner’s verdict and findings will become part of the evidence in the civil claim.

The registrar may also report the death to the coroner.

Role of the coroner

The coroner is an independent judicial officer. The coroner’s job is to establish why the person has died and the surrounding circumstances.

The coroner’s involvement is unrelated to any claim for compensation. However, a coroner’s verdict of ‘industrial disease’, as the cause of death, can be used to support a claim. If the coroner does not record the death as an industrial disease you may still be able to make a successful claim for compensation. Please contact us to discuss this.

If an inquest is planned, but has not yet taken place, please contact us as soon as possible so that we can assess how we may assist in providing information and evidence to the coroner, and whether we should be present at the inquest to represent your interests.

What does the coroner’s investigation involve?

The coroner will be concerned with four questions:

  • Who has died?
  • How did the death occur?
  • When did the death occur?
  • Where did the person die?

The post-mortem

A post-mortem may be required to establish exactly how the person died. The decision to hold a post-mortem rests with the coroner and will be performed by a pathologist.

Small tissue samples are often taken during the post-mortem for examination.

It is important that these tissue samples are not destroyed. They may be needed for further analysis in relation to an asbestos disease claim as they form a part of the evidence required for a civil claim for compensation. The coroner, or coroner’s officer, will ask you what you would like to do with the tissue samples once the investigation has been completed. Please ask for them to be retained. We will also contact the coroner to ensure that this takes place.

Summary of the involvement of the coroner:

  • Where a death is caused by or related to asbestos it must be reported to your local coroner
  • Speak to the medical staff who were involved in your relative’s care to ensure that it is correctly reported to the coroner
  • If you have concerns that the death has not been correctly reported to the coroner then reject the death certificate and contact the coroner yourself. You must also ensure that you contact us immediately
  • A post-mortem examination is usually needed to prove an asbestos related disease as the cause of or contributory to death. Lung tissue samples may be taken for testing. Ensure that these samples are retained and not destroyed or used for medical research. Our specialist lawyers will contact the coroner to request the samples
  • Funeral arrangements can be made after the post-mortem. Ensure that you retain receipts in respect of all expenses as these form part of your claim for compensation
  • An interim death certificate will be issued which can be used to administer the estate. If you require a Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration please contact us for further information
  • You may be asked to provide a statement to the coroner regarding the circumstances surrounding the death
  • Where the cause of death is unclear the coroner will open and adjourn the inquest and set a date for the inquest
  • Family members have the right to attend the inquest and our specialist lawyers may also attend
  • The coroner will reach a conclusion as to the cause of death and will give a verdict
  • Following the inquest the coroner will notify the registrar of births and deaths and the final death certificate will be issued

What about bringing a claim?

We are happy to discuss the possibility of bringing an asbestos disease claim, without any obligations to take matters further.

We are also able to assist in making applications for benefits.

How much will it cost to bring a claim?

We provide an initial consultation free of charge. At that meeting we can discuss and agree together how to fund the claim. In the majority of cases, we can offer Conditional Fee Agreements (CFA’s or “no win, no fee”).

What next?

If you suspect that a family member died as a result of an asbestos related disease then contact us and one of our team will be happy to discuss your claim. 

For further information please download our Coroners and Inquests booklet.

 

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