Assisting Families in the Coroners Court

Assisting Families in the Coroners Court

This week, Adviceline Injury Lawyers has been assisting a client in a Coronial Inquest into the tragic death of her young child. The child suffered life-threatening injuries at home and was taken by ambulance to a hospital emergency department in Melbourne, where her condition deteriorated and she passed away that same morning. The mother came to Andrea Tsalamandris, Partner at Adviceline Injury Lawyers, for assistance in finding out what went wrong in her daughter's care, and whether the ambulance service and the hospital had provided the standard of care to which the child and her parents were entitled.

Adviceline Injury Lawyers were able to assist in gathering evidence from the healthcare services involved, and in obtaining expert medical opinion on the care that should have been provided to this child. The mother also wanted to know whether different actions by the ambulance service or the hospital might have prevented her child's death. The parents had not received information from either the ambulance service or the hospital that had answered their questions about the loss of their child. They were also determined that the health services should apply the lessons they could learn from this tragedy, to give other children with critical injuries in the future the greatest chance of survival.

The Coroner's role is to determine the cause of death, and this can include findings on factors that contributed to the death. Such factors could be, for example, delays in receiving appropriate medical treatment. The Coroner can also make recommendations for improvement in future healthcare. Under the 90 day rule , recommendations by the Coroner must be considered by the relevant healthcare authority within 3 months.

Adviceline Injury Lawyers briefed specialised Counsel for the inquest.  Solicitor Catherine McLeish of our office attended each day, and together with Counsel we represented the mother in the Inquest hearing, where witnesses and experts gave evidence over four days. In this case, the Coroner has not yet delivered his findings, but during proceedings His Honour has agreed with the position Adviceline Injury Lawyers put forward on behalf of the family: that there might be lessons to be learned for the benefit of other young children who may require emergency medical treatment in Victoria in the future.

The Inquest process is an important way that families can have the death of a loved one fully investigated. Adviceline Injury Lawyers regularly acts for families in Inquests, to ensure that the questions in their minds are addressed by the Coroner and all relevant information is considered. We have found that the Victorian Coroners listen carefully to the concerns and evidence of families, in these extraordinarily difficult hearings. We are also able to advise families on any civil legal rights that can arise from Coronial findings or the evidence heard.

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