Samantha Downes

Samantha Downes
Samantha Downes

Samantha has many years of experience in the practice of insurance law and litigation including personal injury litigation, coronial inquiries and insurance policy interpretation. Her focus is to provide a rapid and detailed assessment of potential liability and, where appropriate, negotiate the prompt resolution of claims to contain defence costs.


Samantha principally practises in the area of personal injury law including public liability, medical negligence and worker’s compensation claims, and specialises in the coronial jurisdiction. Her clients include large insurance companies, publicly listed companies and the Victorian government insurer (Victorian Managed Insurance Authority). Samantha has represented many public and private sector clients in coronial investigations and inquests, which often attract media interest and invariably require sensitive and careful management.

Career highlights

Samantha's experience includes advising or acting for:

  • public hospitals in high quantum medical malpractice claims with a focus on early identification of risk and scale, and strategic advice to facilitate prompt resolution in appropriate cases
  • various corporate bodies in worker’s compensation claims and related recovery actions by the VWA
  • various government departments in the conduct of high-profile coronial inquests and occupational health and safety prosecutions
  • a large Victorian public hospital in the inquest into the death of a track marshal during the 2001 Melbourne Formula 1 Grand Prix. The inquest attracted significant international media attention and was highly political in nature
  • a prominent hotel chain in the inquest into the death of Alisha Horan. The inquest was highly publicised, primarily because the deceased was in the company of a high-profile former AFL footballer at the time of her death
  • a Victorian emergency services organisation in the inquest into the deaths arising from the Thunderstorm Asthma event in 2016 and a number of subsequent litigated claims. The coronial investigation was highly emotive and received widespread media coverage
  • a Victorian emergency services organisation in the inquest into the death of a male who was shot dead by police during an incident on the Monash Freeway in May 2020. This investigation involved highly sensitive operational information and required careful strategic management to ensure that the requirements of the presiding coroner were met while protecting the interests of the client organisation.