Reporting of a Sudden Death
Those deaths which should be reported to a Coroner are listed in the Deaths Reportable section of this site. In summary, these are deaths that are sudden, unexpected, violent, or unnatural.
What happens when a death is reported?
When a death has been reported to the Coroner, they or their staff will contact the doctor of the deceased and establish if:-
- The doctor has seen the deceased within the last month;
- The cause of death is known;
- The death was due to natural causes?
If these conditions are met, and there are no other matters needing investigation, the Coroner will allow the doctor to complete a Medical Certificate of the Cause of Death and the death will be registered with the Registrar of Deaths. No unnatural causes of death can be certified by a doctor.
Based on the information available, the Coroner will decide:-
- A death can be certified without any further action;
- A post mortem is needed to gather further information;
- A post mortem and inquest are needed.
If a Coroner orders a post mortem examination, then the next of kin may be asked to formally identify the body. This could either be to the Gardaí at the place where the death happened or later at the mortuary before the examination is carried out.
In some cases of sudden and unexplained deaths, a Coroner has to hold an Inquest. These kinds of deaths are listed in the Inquests section of this site.
An Garda Síochána assists the local Coroner. They arrange the formal identification of the person who has died.
The Gardaí need to collect information for the Coroner. The fact that relatives may be met at the hospital by a uniformed Garda or the Gardaí may call to their home to take a statement does not mean that the death is regarded as suspicious. The Gardaí are usually assisting the Coroner in establishing the identity of the person who has died, and where, how and when their death occurred.