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Fatal Accidents Notes

LPC Law Notes > Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence Notes

This is an extract of our Fatal Accidents document, which we sell as part of our Personal Injury and Clinical Negligence Notes collection written by the top tier of Cambridge And Oxilp And College Of Law students.

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Opens at death Under s. 8(1) Coroners Act 1988, an inquest is required where there is a o Violent/unnatural death o Sudden death with unknown cause o Death in prison o Death in such place/circumstances as to require an inquest in pursuance of an Act Evidence is mostly oral Pathologist usually starts - up to coroner Own representative asks him questions last R. 22 Inquest Rules - no self-incrimination Coroner summation of evidence, determination and reports to prevent future deaths

Aim/purpose of inquest-Strictly limited to establishing: o The identity of the deceased o How, when and where the deceased died o The particulars required by the Registrations Act to be registered concerning death Inquests are NOT to establish responsibility, blame or liability for the death Value to litigants o Documents o Witnesses o Lawyers attend and can follow up on evidence emerging o Lawyers should attend inquests on behalf of their clients Value of inquests o Spotlight of public concern o Families get closure

CoronerHe is usually a qualified doctor AND barrister, although this is not a requirement The coroner is responsible for the inquest procedure and decides: o Post-mortem
? Coroner will usually direct when a post-mortem takes place

?The post-mortem report is vital evidence and immediate request should be made to the coroner for a copy o Documents
? Coroner chooses which documents go before the court (no right to disclosure like in civil litigation) o Witnesses
? Decides who will appear
? Witnesses NOT obliged to answer questions which would incriminate them
? If they do answer, they will waive this privilege o Evidence
? What documents will be needed Sometimes coroner is joined by a jury (if the death occurred in prison/police custody)

Criminal prosecutionsWhere an accident results in a fatality, a criminal prosecution of those thought to be responsible will often follow If such a prosecution occurs, the claimant's solicitor should attend court to obtain details of the circumstances of the accident and take notes of the evidence

VerdictsIndustrial disease Want of attention at birth Accident/misadventure Unlawful killing Open verdict (i.e. insufficient evidence to reach a conclusion) Suicide Natural causes Neglect

Steps to take after the inquest-

Obtain transcript Letter of claim to council Obtain police accident report/plan/photos Interview witnesses and prepare statements Obtain documents from council o Works notes o Risk assessment o Requests for equipment e.g. road signs o Instructions as to placing of signage Consider accident reconstruction expert Calculate damages

Questions that may be asked of witnesses to a fatalityWould you be able to confirm the exact location of the accident?

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