Inquests and Fatal Accidents
The death of a loved one is one of the most traumatic experiences that family members have to go through in their life. The upset and trauma such a death can cause will often be heightened in the event that the death is sudden, violent or other than by natural causes.
In the event that the cause of death is sudden, violent or unknown then an inquest is likely to follow where HM Coroner will seek to determine the cause of death and the circumstances which lead to the death.
Family members of the deceased are considered in law to be interested parties for the purposes of an inquest and are entitled to play an active role in the inquest process. Understandably however complex legal proceedings arising out of the death of a loved one can be a most harrowing and distressing process in the absence of the support of proper legal representation.
Beesley and Company specialise in helping families through the inquest procedure including representation for the family at the inquest hearing with a barrister and/or solicitor. We are experienced across a range of inquests including those arising out of accidents and deliberate actions. We believe our staff are approachable, friendly, knowledgeable and perhaps most importantly sympathetic and understanding to family members in what is a very difficult time for them.
We are able to assist families following a death by liaising with all relevant public authorities regarding the inquest and any other related enquiries that are being undertaken to establish a cause of death. For example in the event of a death in police custody or in prison we would liaise with the Independent Police Complaints Commission and the police force investigating the death or the Prison and Probation Ombudsman respectivley.
Beesley and Company Solicitors have been involved in a number of significant inquests and continue to be instructed in relation to upcoming inquests. Included in our recent instructions are the following matters.
An Inquest touching the death of Nicola Sutton
Miss Sutton was brutally murdered by an ex partner following his release from custody. The inquest made national news as the Probation Service, Cheshire Constabulary and HM Prison Service were criticised by the inquest jury at the conclusion of the inquest and found to have contributed towards her tragic death.
In the Inquest touching the death of Robert Talbot
Beesley and Company represented the family of Mr Talbot who died in police custody having been repeatedly released from police custody when homeless over proceeding weeks.
In the Inquest touching the death of Vincent Kiernan
Beesley and Company acted for the family of Mr Kiernan who died from natural causes but having been attended to by paramedics and Greater Manchester Police. The inquest jury concluded that the conduct of both the paramedic staff and Greater Manchester Police contributed towards Mr Kiernan’s death.
Beesley and Company continue to be instructed in relation to inquests including upcoming hearings into the death of three young people in a road traffic accident during a police pursuit and the death of a young man held in prison custody.
Why should I instruct a solicitor at the inquest?
If the death was caused in an accident and a compensation claim may follow then it would be very helpful to have legal representation at the inquest as we will have the opportunity of considering first hand the witness evidence from the inquest which will feed into the assessment and progress of any subsequent compensation claim.
In addition whilst we are acutely aware whatever the outcome of an inquest it will not return the loved one to the family the inquest process if properly pursued can assist in identifying systemic failings by authorities or employers and steps that should be taken to prevent similar tragic deaths occurring in the future. The coroner has the power to write to government officials setting out concerns identified at the inquest and raise those concerns requiring responses as to how identified failings will be addressed for the future. The inquest process potentially has a benefit for the public at large and this in itself may assist any grieving family to know that lessons will be learnt from their involvement.
In the event that the death of the loved family member was caused or contributed to by the state through one of its various organisations then a form of public funding to pay for the legal costs of assistance and representation may be available. Beesley and Company are recognised by the Legal Aid Agency who authorise public funding as a specialist in civil actions against the police and other public authorities and arising from that specialism we are entitled to make applications to the Legal Aid Agency for public funding for representation at an inquest on behalf of families. Subject to financial circumstances that representation can be without charge.
In the event that the death has occurred by way of an accident at work, in a road traffic accident or in other accidental circumstances we will consider acting for families at an inquest without charge. In the event that a subsequent personal injury claim under the Fatal Accidents Act or other legislation is brought then the cost of representation at the inquest for the family can be recoverable as part of the legal costs of the accident claim. In the event that that claim is successful the costs of representation at the inquest can be recovered from the liable party. We also undertake a full assessment of any further actions for negligence and/or breach of the Human Rights Act that may be possible.
In the event that public funding is not available and that there is no compensation claim arising from the cause of the death then we are able to act for families in an inquest under a fixed fee. Such a fee would be discussed at an initial free assessment of your legal requirements prior to instructing us to act on your behalf at an inquest.
For further information on fees that may apply to your situation please contact us.