The Coroner is responsible for investigating reportable deaths that occur in Queensland.
Once a death is reported, the coroner begins the process of investigating the circumstances of the death to establish the identity of the deceased, how, when and where they died, and the medical cause of death. This may involve an autopsy and in some cases an inquest, resulting in the coroner making findings and, potentially, recommendations for how to prevent similar types of death occurring again.
The circumstances of a person’s death usually determine whether or not a Coronial Inquest is held. By law, the Coroner must conduct an inquest where the death occurred:
- In prison or in custody;
- As a result of a police operation; or
- In care, for example in a nursing home or mental health facility.
Sometimes, an inquest may also be held into a reportable death if the coroner is satisfied it is in the public interest to hold the inquest.
At the end of the inquest, the coroner will make written findings, where possible, about the identity of the deceased; when, where and how they died; and what caused them to die. The coroner may also make recommendations about broader issues connected with the death, with a view to trying to prevent similar deaths in the future. For example, the coroner may make recommendations to improve street lighting or install additional CCTV cameras in dangerous areas, improve hospital procedures or improve the condition of a dangerous road.
The coroner can’t make any finding that a person is guilty of an offence or civilly liable. Additionally, their findings and recommendations can’t be used as evidence in any court or tribunal. However, the coroner can refer a matter to the Director of Public Prosecutions or a disciplinary body for consideration and possible action.
If one of your loved ones has passed away and you believe the circumstances of their passing justify an inquest, talk to us about your options.
If one of your loved ones has passed away and you want an opportunity to have your questions answered in relation to the death, talk to us about whether you have a sufficient interest to participate in the inquest.
If you or a loved one has been involved, directly or indirectly, in an incident or accident where someone has died, speak to us about the importance of legal representation to protect your rights at a coronial inquest.
No matter the issue, we are on your side.