What is a Coroner?

by MSO
Coroner's register records the information about all deaths of individuals

A coroner is called to investigate deaths that appear to be from unnatural causes or natural deaths that occur suddenly or unexpectedly.

Depending on jurisdiction, a coroner is an extension of the sheriff’s office and determines the circumstances surrounding deaths deemed suspicious. However, a coroner is sometimes interchangeably considered a medical examiner.

While a coroner is an elected public official, it is their function to issue subpoenas and investigate deaths. Because coroners do not have the medical training medical examiners have, their skills are more linked to police detective techniques and require them to determine the cause and manner of death through investigative means.

Generally, coroners are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week and when a death is reported, they are required to be at the scene immediately after they have been summoned. While on scene, a coroner will conduct thorough examinations of the death scene and gather background information based on the person’s medical history. A coroner will also question witnesses, examine evidence at the scene and determine if foul play is the cause of death.

When a death is deemed unusual or suspicious, the coroner will begin compiling a “coroner’s case” which will determine the cause of death based on evidence found at the death scene, information obtained from witnesses and family members and autopsy reports.

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