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Coroners Inquest


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Coroners Inquest Solicitors - Injury Compensation Claim Lawyers - Australia

A Coroner's role is to investigate the cause of death and to make recommendations about public health or patient safety arising from the death. A Coronial Inquest is a public hearing conducted by a Coroner. The Coroner does not award compensation or make a ruling as to whether a person died as a result of medical negligence. Solicitors compensation claims are a separate process.

If you suspect that your loved one may have died as a result of medical negligence or substandard hospital treatment, you should seek advice from a solicitor who specialises in both medical negligence law and coroner's inquests. A specialist medical negligence lawyer can handle both Coroner's Inquests and claims for compensation. It is best to have the one lawyer represent your case right from the beginning by investigating all the circumstances surrounding the death; representing you at a Coroner's Inquest (or arranging for a barrister to represent you); explaining the Coroner's findings to you and arrange an appeal if necessary; pursuing a civil claim for compensation.

Our Australian medical negligence solicitors are experts in Coronial Law and regularly represent families at Coronial Inquests who have lost loved ones through:

  • Misdiagnosis and/or incorrect treatment by a doctor
  • Poor hospital treatment
  • Surgery
  • Anaesthesia error
  • The use of hospital bed restraints
  • Medication error

If you would like advice and/or legal representation at a coroner's inquest, contact our specialist legal team. Our service operates Australia-wide and is completely free to use. Call our helpline or complete the Contact Form and a solicitor will be in contact as soon as possible.

Role of The Coroner

The Coroner decides whether an inquest shall be held, although the Attorney-General may direct the Coroner to hold an inquest into a particular case. In some States, a family member may request that an inquest be held. This is done by writing to the coroner, giving reasons why you believe an inquest is necessary. If your request is refused, you can apply to the Supreme Court for an order that an inquest be held.

An inquest is less formal than a court hearing. Any person the Coroner considers has a sufficient interest may give evidence at the hearing, with or without legal representation. Witnesses are called to give evidence and are examined and cross-examined. Documentary evidence such as medical records and medical reports may be tendered. The Coroner is not bound by normal rules of evidence and may inquire to any relevant issues they think fit. The Coroner must act according to equity, good conscience, and apply the rules of natural justice and fairness.

Usually you will be given the chance to speak at the Coroner's Inquest. However, this is up to the Coroner. Sometimes the Coroner will decide that it is better for the family to submit a written statement instead. A lawyer can help you prepare a statement.

The length of an inquest varies. Some inquests last several hours, while others can take several days or even weeks. The greater the complexity of the medical issues, and the greater the number of witnesses, the longer the inquest will take.

As soon as practicable after the completion of the inquest, the Coroner must give written findings. These findings include the circumstances surrounding the death; the cause of death; recommendations that may prevent or reduce the chance of a similar event re-occurring.

If you would like legal representation at a Coroner's hearing, contact our team as soon as possible. Call our free helpline or complete the Contact Form.


There is scope for a Coroner to re-open an inquest at any time. A person who has sufficient interest in the findings may also apply to the Supreme Court for an order that a Coroner's findings be set-aside, re-opened, that a new inquest be held, or substitute other findings which appear justified on the evidence. There a strict time limits for lodging an appeal, and in some States, a person must make the application within 1 month after publication of the finding. If you would like to appeal a Coroner's decision, speak to a solicitor straight away and they will advise you of the time limit for taking action.

Solicitors Compensation Claims

The coroner is prohibited from making any finding that a person is guilty of an offence or civilly liable for something. This basically means that the Coroner cannot rule that the death was caused by 'medical negligence' and cannot award compensation. Your lawyer can however take separate legal action on your behalf for compensation. Having the same lawyer for the Coroner's Inquest and a subsequent compensation claim is advantageous as they will be familiar with all the facts and evidence right from the start.

If a person has died as a result of medical negligence, compensation may be payable to the deceased's family members. Compensation may be awarded for loss of financial benefits that the deceased's family would have received had the person not died. Funeral costs and some other related expenses may also be recoverable. These claims are sometimes called 'Compensation to Relative Claims' or 'Death Claims'.

If a family member has suffered an emotional injury such as major Depression, Anxiety, Adjustment Disorder, Post-traumatic Stress Disorder then they may be entitled to compensation for 'nervous shock'.

Parents who have lost a child, baby or an unborn foetus, that is the result of medical negligence, may be eligible for 'nervous shock' compensation. Guardians and close relatives may also be entitled to claim “nervous shock” compensation if they have suffered a recognisable psychiatric illness as a result of the child or baby's death.

Our specialist medical negligence solicitors are experts at handling compensation claims involving death benefits, dependency claims, Compensation to Relatives, nervous shock and funeral expenses. If you would like free legal advice contact our legal team today.

HELPLINE: ☎ 1800 633 634

The author of the substantive medical writing on this website is Dr. Christine Traxler MD whose biography can be read here