Dooring kills cyclist, verdict "Accidental death"

That's the Coroner's inquest whose job is to determine the cause of death, not the responsibility which is the Court's job. The outcome is not surprising for an inquest. The Court outcome should be quite different.
What court outcome? There's no mention of charges.
Because the trial probably hasn't taken place yet and its not the concern of the inquest. If it does come to trial it is an offence under the Road Vehicles Construction and Use Regulations to open a car door so as to endanger or cause harm to someone so I would expect at least that charge.


Senior Member
It emerges today that the inquest into the death of James has instead recorded a verdict of ‘accidental death’, once again casting the death of a cyclist caused directly by the actions of another road user as a simple consequence of fate.

I don’t understand how this can be the case.

Someone breaks a law that exists to safeguard the welfare of others, kills someone as a direct consequence, and the law then turns around and says no transgression has occured.

To be clear, I’m not suggesting that Lena deliberately killed James, but every time the justice system in the UK twists to ignore the death of a cyclist it’s another step down a slippery slope in the public consciousness. As an immediate example, the article I linked to above described the incident as ”[a cyclist died] when he crashed into a stationary blue Fiat Panda”. Just about factually accurate, but it’s quite clear where the uninformed reader is going to place the blame.


Yup, I'll freely admit (and included in the post) to my low legal knowledge, but I'm surprised and disappointed it didn't even justify a narrative verdict. Unlawful killing is closer to my impression of what's gone on, but that's clearly quite emotive language and presumably had a whole host of prerequisites.

Clearly inquests work within existing legal definitions, but there's so much implied by the word accidental I don't see how it won't affect any subsequent court case.

Will update post to make that a bit clearer.

Edit - further reading suggests that Unlawful Killing would be far too severe based on the definitions I can find on Wikipedia, so Narrative seems the fairest of the options available.


You're knowledge here is clearly far greater than mine, so hope you don't mind if I pick your brains. What's the point of the inquest then? I can understand a coroner giving their opinion on a cause of death, but that's surely based solely on medical evidence. There'll be some overlap given the medical investigation will look at the mechanism of injury, but do we then ask the same person to give a finger in the air assessment of whether it was, in their opinion, intentional?

I'm familiar with rail/air/marine investigation reports where an incident is investigated and conclusions drawn, but they don't then attempt to group the whole thing under a simplistic summary heading.

I suspect this is going to come down to a well defined legal term having a slightly different meaning in normal usage.


Still wavin'
Ovver 'thill
Coroners can however make recommendations, most often in the case of "Unlawful Killing" and "Narrative verdicts"


slower but further
SE London
The issue here comes down to the word 'accidental'. IANAL so will not comment on its legal meaning. However language is always evolving. Accident is more definitely associated in the vernacular with 'no blame', 'fate', 'chance' etc. It is pejorative. Hence is there a case the legal language should also change?

Here in London the traditional yellow signs put up by the Met seeking witnesses now refer to the more neutral 'Incident' rather than 'accident'. Indeed I'm now shocked with some provincial forces who have yet to catch up. The use of a pejorative word could so easily prejudice people's perception - as here with the OP. Worse if it was an investigating officer.


Well-Known Member
North London
The purpose of an inquest is to answer four questions:
  • who has died
  • where they died
  • when they died, and
  • how the deceased came by their death.
The latter is slightly different from discerning the cause of death (how they died), which is what a post-morten does. Inquests are not there to decide civil or criminal liability, or to apportion blame or guilt.
& to establish what can be done to avoid further deaths in the future under similar circumstances.
My understanding was that Inquests were adjourned if there was a court case pending so that the inquest did not prejudice the outcome - so no charges?
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