When death is accidental, sudden or unexpected, a different process must be followed. The first and obvious step is to contact the police. Their task is to investigate the circumstances, gather information, determine a positive identification and ensure the careful transfer of the person who has died to the coroner’s facility.

These details are then presented to the coroner responsible for the jurisdiction in which the death has occurred. The coroner orders a medical examination of the person who has died. Although families often find the prospect of this upsetting, it is a matter governed by law and must be carried out.

Once the coroner has all the evidence and information from the police and the medical examiner, he or she can make an informed decision as to the cause of the person’s death.

Laws are designed to protect all of us. The coroner’s work is not just about the establishment of reasons behind the death of the person, but about protecting our society. It is concerned with advancing health and safety in the workplace and the general community by recommending actions to minimise the recurrence of the causes of death.