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14 Medical Accidents
13. What if a relative has died as a result of a medical accident?
If a relative has died, you can take the same steps you would take if you were injured during medical treatment, but you should also arrange to contact the local coroner.
Coroners are responsible for investigating any death where someone has not died from natural causes, apart from stillbirths. You should tell the coroner about your concerns as soon as you can, because they will normally ask for a post- mortem examination. The coroner will carry out a first inquiry to decide whether an inquest should be held. This is a public hearing to find out the cause of someone's death.
If you can, get advice from AvMA or a clinical negligence solicitor with experience of inquests as soon as possible. The solicitor can contact the coroner and explain why there should be an inquest. The solicitor can also arrange for a second post-mortem if it is needed. If an inquest is held, your solicitor can arrange for a legal representative to ask questions for you.
If you do not have a solicitor, you can contact the coroner yourself. Even if you plan to use a solicitor to help you with your case, you do not have to wait until you find a suitible one before contacting the coroner. The local coroner should be listed in the phone book.
If you cannot afford a solicitor, you may be able to get Community Legal Service funding to pay for any legal help you may need for the inquest. See 'Further help' for more information.
This leaflet is published by the Legal Services Commission (LSC). It was written in association with Action Against Medical Accidents.
The leaflets are regularly updated but the law may have changed since they were printed so the information in them may be incorrect or out of date.
Leaflet Version: October 2017