The inquest

An inquest is a legal inquiry into the medical cause and circumstances of a death. It is held in public – sometimes with a jury – by a coroner, in cases where the death was violent or unnatural, took place in prison or police custody or when the cause of death is still uncertain after a post-mortem.

The coroner is a doctor or lawyer responsible for investigating deaths in particular situations and can also arrange for a post-mortem examination of the body, if necessary. An inquest is a legal inquiry into the causes and circumstances of a death.

If death occurs in any of the following circumstances, the doctor may report it to the coroner:
  • After an accident or injury
  • Following an industrial accident
  • During a surgical operation
  • Before recovery from an anaesthetic
  • If the cause of death is unknown
  • If the death was violent or unnatural – for example, suicide, accident or drug or alcohol overdose
  • If the death was sudden and unexplained – for instance, a sudden infant death (cot death)
More information about inquests can be found on INQUEST’s website.
Personal experiences of inquests can be found on:

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