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Which deaths are reported to the Coroner?

Some examples of when a death must be reported to the Coroner for investigation are:

  • the person died unexpectedly,
  • the person died from an accident or injury,
  • the person died in a violent or unnatural way;
  • the person died during or as a result of an anaesthetic
  • the person was 'held in care' immediately before death,
  • a doctor has been unable to sign a death certificate giving the cause of death, or
  • the identity of the person who has died is not known.

Unexpected death

Any death can be unexpected. A doctor who has been regularly treating a patient may have an opinion about the cause of death, but if the person's death was not expected at that time by the treating doctor, it needs to be thoroughly investigated.

Accident or injury

Even when the cause of death seems clear, the Coroner still needs to find out what happened. For example, a car accident may have been caused by the driver having a heart attack or by a fault in the car. Identifying what contributed to the accident provides important information to families and allows preventative measures to be recommended.

Held in care

The definition of 'held in care' is broad. It includes people in police custody, people in gaol, involuntary patients in psychiatric institutions, and children in juvenile justice centers.

Last updated: 15-Jan-2014

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