In the case of a sudden and unexplained death, an independent official called a Coroner can be appointed who has legal responsibility for the investigation.

The Coroner’s role is to inquire into the circumstances surrounding the death in a sudden, unexplained, or of a violent or unnatural nature.

Occasionally, this necessitates a postmortem examination which is sometimes followed by an Inquest.  Essentially, the Coroner endeavours to establish ‘who, when, where and how’ regarding the circumstances of an unexplained death.

The Coroner’s role is also to establish the facts.  The Coroner does not consider the civil or criminal liability but rather they investigate.


Where the death is due to unnatural causes, the Coroner is obliged to hold an Inquest.  The Coroner will be an individual who is either a registered medical practitioner or a practising Solicitor or Barrister for in excess of five years.  The Coroner’s statutory duties derive from the Coroner’s Act 1962 and the Coroner’s (Amendment) Act 2005.

Certain deaths must be reported to a coroner such as;

  • deaths reported by the Gardai (suspicious deaths or homicide)
  • deaths reported to the Coroner by the Governor of a prison
  • death by accident or disease or poisoning which requires notification to an inspector or government department
  • death resulting from a road traffic accident
  • death in circumstances which may be prejudicial to the health or safety of the public
  • the death of a child in care
  • othercategories relating to matters, including those such as sudden infant death.


Legal representation is not essential when appearing before the Coroner’s Court.  However, in many instances, the evidence being presented is often of a very complex legal and medical nature.

In such circumstances, legal representation can be invaluable in reviewing medical records in complex cases and obtaining relevant medical records and witness statements and expert opinions that may be of assistance to ascertain additional information on examination during the course of the Inquest itself.

Furthermore, the evidence given at an Inquest can be crucial in establishing the truth and assessing whether or not there is a potential fatal injuries claim for negligence against a professional or company or institution.

At Carmody Moran Solicitors we appreciate that you may wish to be represented in order to ensure that at this difficult time you are fully supported by experienced, professional lawyers.

We are in a position to assist you in understanding fully the process and all of the evidence heard, in particular, in assisting in deciphering medical or legal jargon.


While the Inquest does not make findings of fact that are binding in subsequent proceedings, its investigations can provide additional information that is crucial in identifying whether or not there is, for example, a claim open to the family and loved ones of the deceased, for professional negligence or negligent medical treatment.

Carmody Moran Solicitors have considerable experience of dealing with Inquests in the aftermath of fatal road accidents, accidents at work and unexpected deaths in hospital.


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