Inquests

If a loved one has died in hospital, while being treated for any kind of medical condition, or in circumstances where you believe a failure of medical care contributed to their death, an inquest may be the only way to uncover the facts surrounding the death.

Inquests can be complicated, confusing and highly stressful for the deceased’s loved ones, so having the right sensitive, practical legal advice and support can often be essential to ensure you get the answers you need.

Where you believe medical negligence is a factor in your loved one’s death, you may also want to consider pursuing a claim for compensation once the inquest is concluded. Again, these claims can be highly complicated, so specialist legal advice is a must.

Wolferstans’ medical negligence team are highly experienced in supporting and representing families during inquests and pursuing compensation for a loved one’s death. We offer the clear, compassionate advice and guidance you need to make sure all the key facts are uncovered and that your family gets the financial support you need to begin rebuilding your lives.

We offer a free initial no obligation consultation, so you can find out more about how we can support you at this difficult time.
To arrange your consultation please contact the new client team on 01752 648898.

Our experience with inquests related to medical negligence

We have supported many clients throughout England and Wales over the years with inquests related to suspected medical negligence.

Our previous experience in these matters include cases where:

  • A patient has died in hospital of an unknown cause
  • The circumstances surrounding a patient’s death are unclear
  • There are questions over whether the quality of care a patient received may have contributed to their death

Find out more by reading about some of the cases where we have successfully represented families during inquests related to medical negligence.

How inquests work

There are various steps involved in the decision by a coroner to hold an inquest and the inquest process itself.

When an inquest will be held

  • Where there are questions about a person’s death, a coroner will order a pathologist to examine the deceased’s body to determine the cause of death.
  • If the pathologist’s examination reveals the cause of death, the coroner will contact the Registrar of Births and Deaths with this information. You will then be able to legally register the death.
  • If the pathologist cannot establish a cause of death OR the cause of death is found to be ‘unnatural’ an inquest will need to be held.

What happens during an inquest

  • The inquest will be scheduled for as soon as possible after the death occurs – usually within a maximum of 6 months from the date of death.
  • The inquest will normally be held in public.
  • The goal of the inquest is to establish who died, how they died, when they died and where they died. In cases of suspected medical negligence, it is generally the ‘how’ that is the critical question.
  • Various witnesses and experts will usually be called to give evidence.
  • The coroner will give a verdict on how the subject of the inquest died. This can include a ‘narrative verdict’ where they will set out the facts surrounding the death and their reasons for this conclusion.
  • It is important to realise than an inquest is only intended to establish the facts surrounding a death, it will not assign blame. However, it may raise questions and uncover facts that are critical to any subsequent action you may wish to take for clinical negligence.

What happens after an inquest

  • If you are unhappy with the result of an inquest, you can challenge the coroner’s conclusions (or the decision not to hold an inquest if none takes place). Depending on the circumstances, there may be a 3-month time limit to make such a challenge.
  • If the conclusion of the inquest has raised questions about whether medical negligence was a factor in your loved one’s death, you may wish to separately pursue a wrongful death claim to secure compensation.
  • If you need to pursue compensation following an inquest, we can guide you through the process of making a clinical negligence claim.

Funding an inquest

There can be various options for funding legal representation during an inquest – exactly what type of funding is open to you will depend on the circumstances and this is something we will be happy to advise you about at the outset.

Often inquest representation is funded through legal expenses insurance or private funding, although other options may be available in certain situations.

In some cases, Legal Aid funding may be available, although this is only usually an option in exceptional circumstances through the government’s Exceptional Case Funding Scheme (ECS) and is not usually available for cases related to medical negligence.

To discuss your options for covering the cost of inquest representation, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

If you need to fund a medical negligence claim in connection to the death of your loved one, we also offer various options, including ‘no win, no fee’ agreements. Find out more about funding a medical negligence claim.

Our expertise in inquests related to medical negligence

Our team have extensive experience representing clients in inquests, including those connected to suspected cases of medical negligence. We can provide the sensitive, clear and practical support you need to make sure all of the facts are uncovered and that you get the answers you need.

Wolferstans is accredited by the Law Society for Clinical Negligence, recognising our particular expertise in this area. We are also Lexcel accredited by the Law Society for excellence in legal practice management and client care.

Various members of our medical negligence team are also on the Law Society and AvMA (Action against Medical Accidents) Specialist Clinical Negligence Panels and have been accredited by APIL (Association of Personal Injury Lawyers) as Clinical Negligence Specialists and Brain Injury Specialists.

Find out more about our medical negligence claims team.

Read our client testimonials.

Common questions about inquests

An inquest will be held as soon as possible after your loved one’s passing and coroners will generally aim to conclude the process within 6-9 months of the date of death

No, a coroner has no power to assign blame or award compensation as part of the inquest process. If you wish to pursue compensation, you will need to pursue a separate compensation claim, which is something our expert team can advise you on.

The coroner will usually request that a member of the family comes to the inquest to give evidence and depending on the circumstances more than one family member may need to attend.

Coroners are trained to be sensitive towards the fact that this is a very difficult situation for family members and their questions will generally be tactful and straightforward. We can advise and support you for appearing at a coroner’s inquest so you can have the confidence to deal with the situation and help to secure the right outcome for your loved one.

There is no requirement for family members to attend an inquest beyond the need to give evidence, but generally family members do wish to attend in order to have their questions answered. Our solicitors can support you through the entire inquest process to help make things as easy as possible under the circumstances.

Making a medical negligence claim following an inquest

If a loved one has died as a result of medical negligence, claiming compensation is often essential to be able to support your family and start rebuilding your lives.

Our medical negligence solicitors can guide you through the entire process of making a claim with sensitivity and clear, practical advice, giving you all the support you need during this difficult time.

We offer a free initial consultation and no win, no fee funding agreements, meaning your financial situation should be no barrier to pursuing a valid claim.

To find out more about making a medical negligence claim, please get in touch.

You can also find a range of useful information about medical negligence claims by looking at our news, blogs and our series of helpful leaflets covering specific issues

Speak to our solicitors about inquest representation today

To find out more about having our experienced inquests solicitors represent you:
To arrange your consultation please contact the new client team on 01752 292204