A Coroner’s inquest is an inquiry held in public, sometimes with a jury. Each county has an appointed Coroner who is a doctor or a solicitor. In Limerick, the Coroner’s court deal with deaths in Limerick. In Dublin, the Dublin Coroner deals with unexplained or unexpected deaths in Dublin. The purpose of the Coroner’s Court is to answer questions such as:
- the facts surrounding the death
- the date and place of death
- the cause of death
Medical Negligence and Coroner’s Inquest
Unexpected deaths in hospitals are investigated by the Coroner. Coroner’s Inquests where negligence is suspected should be automatic but often families have to fight for an Inquest for babies who die during or shortly after birth. Maternal deaths during pregnancy and in the weeks following childbirth should also lead to an Inquest. This is not the case though and bereaved families often have to fight to get the answers they deserve.
We are campaigning to have Coroners Inquest automatically in cases of babies and maternal deaths. After such a traumatic experience, the people of Ireland are entitled to answers. While a Bill was drafted in 2007 to bring this into law, this Bill has yet to be enacted.
How to obtain a Coroner’s Inquest
Under law, there are certain situations where a Coroner must carry out an Inquest. In some cases, it may not be immediately evident to the medical staff and the Coroner that an Inquest is required. In these cases, the circumstances of the death must be clearly explained to the Coroner to determine if this fact finding investigation is required by law.