Fatal Workplace Accident Inquests
When a death occurs as a consequence of a workplace accident, it is a legal requirement that an inquest is established to determine the exact cause of death. In many cases a post mortem is also necessary. While the inquest is an investigation to establish the cause of death it is not about identifying who is responsible for the fatal accident. The inquest is managed by the coroner. Interested parties, such as the victim’s family can attend and may also have legal representation.
In workplace asbestos related disease inquests, the coroner may ask for tissue samples and medical records to clarify if and to what extent asbestos was a factor in contributing to death. It is only when the exact circumstances and events leading up to the workplace death have been established that informed decisions can later be made regarding, what or if any negligence contributed to the person’s death.
Why Do I Require Legal Representation at a Fatal Workplace Accident Inquest?
An inquest will only occur after any Health and Safety Authority (HSA) prosecution. The inquest may be adjourned to facilitate the investigation and any subsequent prosecution. In the event that this situation arises, it would be important to obtain an interim death certificate. The probate of the deceased’s estate and release of funds that may be required for family support, can be further delayed in circumstances where there is no death certificate. Under these circumstances, it is critical that the medical evidence be reviewed by an experienced health law lawyer.
All of the witnesses to the circumstances of the fatal accident will be required to make statements. These statements will have been taken by An Garda Síochána. In our experience there have been a significant number of occasions where statements are light on detail. The inquest presents the opportunity to expand such detail, through appropriate examination of witnesses and ascertain the truth of the events leading up to the fatal accident. It should be noted that many of the witnesses concerned may be senior management personnel from the employer company where the deceased worked.
Access to such witnesses would not be available in advance of a civil action, except at the inquest hearing. It is useful to be aware of the extent of evidence that they will deliver in any subsequent civil action. Details in terms of the work procedures, health and safety statements and the general safety culture of the workplace can be determined during the course of examination at the inquest.
Legal Costs at a Fatal Workplace Accident Inquest
When the HSA are contemplating a prosecution subsequent to a fatal workplace accident it is most likely that a civil action will follow. There is clear legal precedent which allows for recovery of the legal costs of representation at a workplace accident inquest. The relevant legislation is Part IV of the Civil Liability Act 1961.
Potential Claim Entitlements Associated with Fatal Workplace Accident Litigation Fatal
workplace accident claims include an entitlement to seek recompense under the following heads of claim:
- Mental distress monies where the amount available is limited by statute in the sum of €25,400
- Loss of services of the deceased around the family home
- Dependency losses including –
i. Loss of the deceased’s income
ii. Any detrimental impact upon any spouse or partner’s income arising from the death
iii. Loss of pension entitlements
iv. Any other financial costs incurred arising out of the deceased’s death i.e. inability to complete a refurbishment project, additional childcare support etc
We understand that nothing will ever adequately compensate you for your loss. There are many practical issues that have to be addressed as a consequence of your bereavement. At Malcomson Law we believe our experience and sensitive approach will help you through this difficult time.
If you require advice in relation to a death in the workplace or representation at a Coroner’s inquest please phone us at 01 – 8744 422.
You can also fill in our online enquiry form and a client care executive will call you back.