Representation at the Coroner’s Court

The Coroner investigates a person’s cause of death, particularly how and why the death occurred. They can also make formal comments regarding a death and make public health or safety recommendations related to the death.

The Coroner first carries out a detailed physical examination of the body, known as an autopsy, to establish the cause of death. If further investigation is required, information about the death will be collected by a Coroner’s assistant or a police officer. An Inquest, which is a public hearing conducted by the Coroner, will then be held and all evidence and findings regarding the death will be presented.

FAQs - your questions answered

At Maurice Blackburn we understand that Coroner’s Inquests can be very distressing times for families who have lost loved ones. Because we understand the intricacies of the law and the Coronial Inquest process, we are able to explain it to you step by step, in plain language.  We are committed to providing specialist legal advice together with empathetic representation.

We liaise with the Coroner’s office on behalf of the family, we prepare the case, and arrange for a barrister to represent them at the Inquest. While it’s not necessary to lave legal representation at an Inquest, we know from experience that Coroner’s matters can be complicated, and since any doctors and hospitals involved will have legal representation, we advise that you do too.

We have appeared for families at inquests into:

  • deaths which occur as a result of a hospital or doctor's failure to diagnose and treat a life-threatening illness or condition
  • deaths because of anaesthesia
  • deaths involving the use of hospital bed restraints
  • deaths because of failure to diagnose and treat meningitis, and
  • deaths resulting from prescription of excessive dosage of medication.


When a person dies because of medical negligence or malpractice, compensation can be paid to that person’s dependant family members. This compensation can recognise the loss of financial benefits that has occurred because of the death. Sometimes compensation can be given for emotional injury (or nervous shock) suffered by surviving family members and loved ones. This emotional injury extends beyond a normal grief reaction and can constitute a diagnosable psychological injury.

Claims for the death of children can be made by parents, guardians or close relatives for nervous shock. These claims do need proof of negligence leading to the death, and evidence that a recognised psychiatric disorder has been the result of the death. Funeral costs and some other expenses may also be recoverable.