Deaths which may be caused by an industrial disease, such as asbestos related diseases, must be reported to the Coroner.
The main reason for this is to provide information to the Government on the number of people who die from such diseases. The incidence of death due to industrial diseases is a very important public policy issue. Families who have been affected by a work related disease generally want this fact to be publicly acknowledged and recognised.
When an asbestos related death is reported to the Coroner, the Coroner’s Officer will contact the family in order to ask about the deceased’s work history and exposure to asbestos. This information will assist the Coroner in deciding whether to hold an inquest. The inquest is to establish the cause of death. For many families the inquest will answer this vital question. The Coroner’s Officer will give the family a booklet about Coroner’s inquests and answer any questions they may have.
The Post Mortem
In order to establish the cause of death the Coroner may decide to hold a post mortem. In some cases the Coroner will insist on a post mortem if that is the only way to establish the cause of death. It may be possible to decide on the cause of death without a post mortem and the Coroner will be sensitive to family wishes. As well as determining the cause of death, a post mortem may also provide information that will help to decide whether a claim for compensation is a possibility.
Interim Death Certificate
An interim death certificate will be issued by the Coroner. On completion of the inquest, a full death certificate will be provided by the Coroner.
The Inquest Procedure
The inquest procedure occurs during a very stressful and painful time and the prospect of an inquest can be daunting and frightening. Do make sure you ask the Coroner’s Officer about the inquest and procedures so that you know as much as possible about what to expect. There will be a jury at the inquest if the person who has died was currently working for an employer. However, in most cases sufferers of asbestos related diseases will have retired from work as it takes many years for the diseases to develop.
The main purpose of the inquest is to establish the cause of death and the Coroner will give a conclusion or verdict on the cause of death. However, this verdict does not imply that anyone is guilty of an offence and does not suggest the criminal or civil liability of any person.
Regional Coroner Offices
There are two Coroner Offices for South Yorkshire:
Coroner for South Yorkshire West District
Medico Legal Centre, Watery Street, Sheffield S3 7ES.
0114 273 8721
Coroner for South Yorkshire East District
5 Union Street, off Sepulchre Gate West, Doncaster DN1 3AE.
The Coroner Office for Nottinghamshire, including Bassetlaw is:
Coroner for Nottinghamshire
The Council House, Old Market Square Nottingham NG1 2DT.
0115 841 5553