The Coronial process is an important one to those families bereaved following an unexpected death such as arising from a road traffic collision.
What is the Coronial process?
The Coroner is notified of the death, they will then open an Inquest and then adjourn the inquest until a later date. Before an Inquest is held the Coroner will conduct a short Pre-Inquest Review Hearing to explore whether it is possible to hold an Inquest.
If there has been a criminal trial the Coroner will not usually hold a full Inquest. They will instead seek to deal with the matter on paper given that the evidence ought to have been aired in a criminal court enabling the Coroner to understand what has occurred leading to the death. If there has not been a criminal trial then the Coroner may well hold a full Inquest where witnesses will be summonsed to attend and questions posed.
What does the coroner do?
The Coroner is concerned with finding the cause of death and not attributing blame. The Coroner following a death after a road traffic collision will usually make one of three verdicts
- Unlawful Death,
- Accidental Death,
- Narrative verdict. For example, multiple injuries resulting in death caused by road traffic collision.
We would usually, on a case by case basis, as part of acting for the bereaved family in a compensation claim offer our services for representation at the Inquest. This is particularly important to families who want to understand what happened to their loved one because often the other party will be represented by a legal team funded by their motor insurance company. If the bereaved family are not professionally represented, then at an Inquest where they are confronted by a represented third party you have an unwelcome “David and Goliath” situation.
The Coroner will conduct the Inquest which includes making a determination as to what evidence is used, which witnesses are called and how questions are asked. However, a professionally represented Party will have a good chance of articulating their questions to witnesses to gain an understanding of what happened.
How do you fund legal representation at an inquest?
A key challenge for a bereaved family is how to fund legal representation at an Inquest although where there is a compensation claim then this may include for the costs of representation at an Inquest as part of the claim. The instructed solicitor will be able to advise upon the best method of funding representation at the Inquest for their client.
We have acted for many clients at Inquests to ensure they are represented with positive outcomes achieved. Also, the information gained from an Inquest may support any compensation claim being pursued.
Our team are experienced with acting for those at Inquest as either part of a compensation claim or as a stand-alone instruction.
How Moore Barlow can help
Moore Barlow LLP are a legal panel member for RoadPeace who are the national charity supporting those seriously injured or bereaved as a result of road crash. RoadPeace offer a pastoral support helpline here: 0800 160 1069.