Deaths referred to the coroner

In 2020–21, there were 2,400 head injury deaths recorded in the AIHW National Mortality Database (NMD). There were 1,300 finalised records of deaths that were referred to the coroner in the National Coronial Information System (NCIS), which may or may not also be included as head injury deaths in the NMD. These NCIS deaths only include closed cases, where the coronial investigation has been completed and cause of death established.

A death is usually referred to a coroner if the death:

  • is unexpected
  • is caused by an accident or injury
  • occurred while in care or custody
  • is healthcare related
  • is for a person with an unknown identity (NCIS 2023)

Injury deaths make up a large proportion of deaths referred to the coroner. In 2019, the NCIS reported that 43.5% of reportable deaths were caused by an injury (NCIS 2022). In 2020–21, 70% of all injury deaths in the NMD were referred to the coroner. This is substantially higher than the proportion of all deaths referred to the coroner, which the ABS estimates to be between 11-14% (ABS 2023), meaning that injury deaths are much more likely to receive a coronial investigation than other causes of death.