The death might in some cases also need to be reported to the local police station so a police officer can sometimes attend.
Following the death, the coroner may request an autopsy so that the pathologist can prepare a post-mortem report. The post-mortem examination can provide information about the exact cause of death. This information may be used in a later civil compensation claim.
In lung cancer cases, where you may wish to have a civil compensation claim investigated, it is important that a specialist asbestos disease solicitor is appointed so that contact can be made with any potential defendants. This is to ensure that these potential defendants are provided with the post-mortem evidence and inquest date so they have a chance to obtain any relevant medical evidence. If they have not had this opportunity at this early stage then, later on, a civil compensation claim may be disallowed by the court.
If you have already instructed a solicitor, s/he will provide the coroner with witness statements.
This could be the statement of the work history taken by the solicitor during lifetime or, if this was not done, then it could be a statement or short letter from a close family member setting out their recollection of their loved one’s work history.
In a recent case where there was no work history, as the deceased was a housewife, the widower provided a short letter confirming that his wife used to launder his dusty work overalls (he worked in an environment where he came into contact with asbestos dust). This was accepted by the coroner who was able to confirm the death was an industrial disease.
In asbestos-related lung cancer cases, the coroner may call upon a medical expert to answer questions about the work history and the medical evidence in the post-mortem report. The witness statement taken during lifetime will be very important for asbestos lung cancer cases as the coroner will need to be satisfied that the cancer was not smoking-related but due to asbestos exposure.
The coroner lists cases for an inquest where s/he can establish what happened and give their verdict ("conclusion").
In lung cancer and asbestosis cases it is important that lung tissue samples are retained so that these can be analysed and fibre counts taken to assist in establishing the dose of asbestos to which somebody was exposed in their lifetime.