Where doctors believe that a person has died from an industrial disease, it is a legal requirement that an inquest is held. A post-mortem will be carried out on the body which allows a pathologist to ascertain the cause or causes of death.
For many families the news that an inquest and post-mortem must take place comes as a complete shock. However, it should not delay the release of the body for a funeral for more than a few days whilst the post-mortem is being carried out.
The inquest is opened once the post-mortem is completed. Once the post-mortem is completed the inquest is opened and adjourned to allow the body to be released to the family. The inquest is then re-opened at a later date when all the evidence that needs to be heard, such as statements from former work colleagues and family, is ready.
Having considered the evidence, the court may make a finding of "death by industrial disease". If the family is pursuing or intends to pursue a claim for compensation it can be helpful if the finding of death by industrial disease is made out at the inquest.