When a loved one dies, the grief and trauma can be overwhelming. The last thing most people want to do is deal with the coroner's office.
The Victorian Coroner is required to investigate deaths that occur from accidents or injuries, including TAC Claims and workplace deaths. The Coroner also investigates 'unnatural' and 'unexpected' deaths - which is any death that is not a result of natural causes, such as homicides, suicides or any death that is unexpected, for example due to the health of the deceased. Deaths that occur in hospitals or following medical procedures where the doctors did not reasonably expect the person to die are also investigated by the Coroner.
In the above circumstances, usually a medical practitioner or Victoria Police will notify the Coroner's office. If a Coronial Investigation is commenced, usually the body of the deceased will be taken into the custody of the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine or a Reginal Pathologist for a post mortem examination.
In most cases the Coroner will be able to determine the identity of the deceased, the cause of death and the circumstances of the death without further investigations. In some cases the investigation will involve gathering more information, including witness statements from family or others who might have information related to the death. Those investigations are carried out by Victoria Police acting on behalf of the Coroner. The police's involvement in the Coroner's investigation does not mean that a criminal investigation is also taking place; Victoria Police prepares these reports for the Coroner even if there is no suspicion of any criminal activity.
In some cases the Coroner may determine a Coronial Inquest is required. Inquests are public hearings held in the Coroner's Court, where interested parties (including family members) can be legally represented. Inquests occur in approximately 5% of all deaths investigated by the Coroner.
Persons attending a Coronial Inquest can choose to bring legal representation.
If you require further information about Coronial Investigations or Inquests, call (03) 9321 9988.