Although bereaved family members can (and are often encouraged) to represent themselves at inquests into the death of a loved one, these are complicated and difficult proceedings. Although they are intended to be a fact-finding mission as opposed to an adversarial court case to apportion blame, this is not always the case. It is also worth bearing in mind that the various bodies that are often involved in an inquest (the prison and probation service, private healthcare providers, hospitals and trusts) and millions is spent on employing specialist lawyers that will represent them at an inquest.
Is representation necessary at an inquest?
If representation is unnecessary and the process truly not adversarial, then why do the majority of public bodies have representation during an inquest? Those possibly to blame for the death are supported by specialists, so it is equally important for the family of the deceased to have the same protection and guidance.
The relevant bodies will also generally have a far greater understanding of the process since it is unlikely to be the first time they have been through the process. The coroner does not have a set process that he needs to follow for an inquest meaning the family of the deceased will not know what to expect and are unlikely to know how to challenge any decisions made. This means that the family of the deceased can feel at a complete disadvantage at an inquest and not get the information or answers that they deserve.
Having specialist legal representation ensures that bereaved families have their rights and interests properly protected. Here we look at why a bereaved family must have representation in these difficult cases.
How representation can help the family at an inquest
A family member of the deceased is given the special status as a person of protected interest or PIP. This means that they are entitled to attend the inquest and ask questions of any witnesses, as well as obtaining relevant documentation. However, most families in these situations will not have the knowledge pertinent to know the exact questions that they should ask or what information they should expect (and demand if it is not forthcoming).
Having specialist representation will ensure that your rights and needs are protected and that you get the best outcome possible from the inquiry. If the inquest does not appear to be covering all the necessary points, a legal representative can ensure that this is challenged to ensure a robust and thorough investigation.
Legal representation can also guide and represent the family of the deceased in bringing a claim for compensation, where appropriate, due to the circumstances that led to the death of their loved one.
Contact our specialist Inquest Lawyers in London
Inquests into a death are complicated and will be stressful for the family of the deceased. Our expert inquest lawyers can represent you throughout the whole process to ensure that you get the guidance and support that you need to get the most out of this situation. Please get in touch via our online contact form or call us on 020 3972 9011 to see how we can help you.