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Fatal Claims / Inquests

At Alsters Kelley, we are experienced in helping people following the death of a loved one, including representation at inquests. We aim to take the pressure off you at this most difficult of times, and help you get the answers you need. We will investigate the treatment and circumstances that led to the death and establish whether neglect played a part. Where necessary, we will arrange for representation at the inquest.

The loss of a spouse or close relative often has grave financial consequences just when you are at your most vulnerable. This is where our solicitors with many years of experience in representing clients in fatal cases can help.

If you have concerns over the care provided to a relative, contact one of our solicitors to discuss whether you might wish to investigate a clinical negligence claim.


Preparing for an inquest can be a traumatic and bewildering experience on top of the shock and distress caused by the death. Many people feel that the legal procedures and processes in trying to discover the truth about the circumstances of a death are the last thing they can cope with after losing someone close.

Do I need a solicitor?

If you are concerned about the circumstances of the death of a loved one, then you should consider seeing a solicitor who has specialist experience, as soon as possible. While you might have been told by the coroner or coroner’s officer that it is not necessary, if you need help or have concerns about the death, then it is worth speaking with a specialist solicitor first. It is not always necessary to have a solicitor, but if you want to be legally represented at the inquest, it is important. It can also help to have a solicitor to assist you in obtaining any paperwork related to your relative’s death or the circumstances surrounding the death.

What is an Inquest?

It is an inquiry into the facts surrounding a death presided over by a coroner in order to:-

  • find out the medical cause of death
  • draw attention to the existence of circumstances which, if nothing is done, might lead to further deaths in the same manner
  • advance medical knowledge
  • preserve the legal interests of the deceased person’s family or other interested parties.

It is important to remember that the inquest system is not there to establish who was responsible for a death. However, the coroner does have the power to investigate not just the main cause of death, but also “any acts or omissions which directly led to the cause of death”. The purpose of the inquest is to answer:

  • Who someone was
  • Where they died – the place where the death occurred
  • When they died – the date and time
  • How they came to their death – the manner and the facts surrounding the death.

There are several verdicts that a coroner or his jury can reach. Possible verdicts include:- natural causes; accidental death or death by misadventure; suicide; unlawful killing; industrial disease; open verdicts (where there is insufficient evidence for any other verdict).

Sometimes, the inquest will show that something needs to be done to prevent a recurrence. The coroner can draw attention to this publicly, and will write to someone in authority about it. Your legal team might also be able to use this information in bringing a claim for damages or in other court proceedings on your behalf.

What does the coroner do?

Coroners enquire into those deaths reported to them. They will seek to establish the medical cause of death; if the cause remains in doubt after a post mortem, an inquest will be held. Not all deaths are reported to a coroner. In most cases, a GP or hospital doctor can use a medical certificate of the cause of death, and the death can be registered by the registrar of births and deaths, who will issue the Death Certificate. A death is report to the coroner when the death was sudden or unexpected; violent or unnatural; occurred during medical care, such as an operation; was due to an industrial disease; or when no doctor has treated the deceased during his or her last illness. Deaths are usually reported to the coroner by the police, a doctor or the local registrar of deaths may make the report.

If you need any further information, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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Meet the Medical Negligence team

Kiran Jalota
Head of Medical Negligence and Personal Injury

Kiran's role is to recover necessary compensation for victims of negligence who have suffered physical and/or psychological injury & other consequential loss. Read more

Call us on 01926 356000 for more information or for a chat.

Kiran is supported by our Medical Negligence team
Anjalee Chauhan, Sibusiso Mafu, Nina Sherwood and Haidee Vedy

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