The Coroner in Ireland conducts an independent investigation into sudden, unexpected, violent or unnatural deaths which means they can order post-mortem examinations and any special investigations of a forensic nature. Where the preliminary investigation and/or post-mortem establishes that a death is (or maybe) due to an unnatural cause, an inquest must be held pursuant to law.
Prior to the inquest the next of kin of the deceased (or the solicitor) are entitled to see copies of the draft statements, post-mortem report and any other relevant documentation. The intention of the inquest is to try to establish the objective cause in relation to an unnatural death in terms of the identification of the deceased person, how, when and where the death occurred, the relevant circumstances surrounding the death and make findings in respect of those matters. An inquest cannot make findings of negligence or blame for the death nor can it award compensation.
A verdict must be returned as to how death occurred for example accident/misadventure, suicide, unlawful killing, open verdict etc. and often recommendations can be made to try and stop a similar occurrence happening in the future.
Legal representatives such as solicitor or barrister have the full right to question witnesses and make representations to the coroner in relation to procedure, the evidence, findings or proposed verdict. We understand that the idea or prospect of an inquest of a loved one may be particularly difficult but the process itself should help provide important information as to the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death. The outcome of the inquest may highlight failings which give recommendations which in turn may help prevent other deaths occurring through enhanced safety protections for example. We can assist you at the inquest to have your voice heard that best supports your interests in finding out the truth. The information obtained at the inquest can often help in a civil claim for compensation.
Publicly funded Legal Aid at inquests is now available in certain circumstances and in cases of medical negligence it is usually possible to include the legal costs for representation at an inquest in the claim for recovery. Legal Aid is usually granted where the deceased person was in the custody of the Gardaí, the Prison Service, involuntarily detained in a psychiatric hospital, including the Central Mental Hospital, a young person in a detention centre or otherwise in care and a maternal death during the course of childbirth.
Should you require further information and to contact one of our solicitors in relation to your loved one’s inquest please call 0818 888 555 or WhatsApp/call 087 398 7386 or complete our online enquiry form