What are the Duties of a Coroner? (with pictures)

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon
One duty of a coroner is to testify in court, when necessary.
One duty of a coroner is to testify in court, when necessary.

A coroner is an official who presides over the handling of dead bodies. In different nations, the meaning of the office is different, and the person has different areas of responsibility and authority. In most cases, the coroner handles administrative tasks that relate to the deceased, such as collecting bodies, identifying them, determining cause of death, granting exhumation requests, testifying in court, and releasing bodies to their families. In most cases, he or she acts as a medical examiner, performing an autopsy on the body to determine how and when the person died. In other nations, this person is actually an officer of the court who manages the inquest, or court investigation, into the death.

A coroner must handle paperwork and administrative duties for each autopsy.
A coroner must handle paperwork and administrative duties for each autopsy.

In the case of a coroner who acts as a medical examiner, which is the most common example, all deaths must be reported to this person, who will investigate the death if it is suspicious. In general, any death that takes place outside of a hospital is considered suspicious. A coroner or a representative of the office picks up decedents from the site where they are discovered and brings them back to the office for examination. The coroner determines the time and cause of death, and issues a formal death certificate and autopsy report. If the death is found to be a murder, the information gathered by the office will serve as evidence in the case.

Coroners determine whether a person's death was cause by accident, natural causes or murder.
Coroners determine whether a person's death was cause by accident, natural causes or murder.

When a coroner serves as a court officer, he or she presides over a court hearing that determines the cause of death and what action should be taken, if any. At the hearing, evidence will be presented by a medical examiner, along with witnesses and other relevant speakers. The inquest attempts to determine who the deceased was, how he or she died, and whether or not foul play was involved. If the inquest determines that the death was a murder, other law enforcement officials take over, launching an investigation to track down the murderer. In England, due to an archaic law, this person also handles reports of treasure, determining who the reward for the treasure goes to, as all found treasure belongs, by right, to the Crown.

Part of a coroner's job is performing autopsies.
Part of a coroner's job is performing autopsies.

Training to become a coroner has different requirements, depending on where he or she serves. If the person is acting as a court officer, qualification as a lawyer may be required. One who works as a medical examiner must attend medical school. Other supplemental training may be required, and the training may be different for coroner's assistants, who are trained to collect and process evidence.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a InfoBloom researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Mary McMahon
Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a InfoBloom researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

You might also Like

Readers Also Love

Discussion Comments

anon167578

Billy, come to Springfield, Illinois. The only requirement to be the coroner here is a high school diploma.

anon114842

thanks for giving such an good information on net/site.

billysickel

i found both articles, coroner and medical examiner, very interesting. i am interested in one or the other, from the articles it seems im interested in both. i was wondering how many years of medical school i need and the average pay rate for a coroner?

Post your comments
Login:
Forgot password?
Register:
    • One duty of a coroner is to testify in court, when necessary.
      One duty of a coroner is to testify in court, when necessary.
    • A coroner must handle paperwork and administrative duties for each autopsy.
      A coroner must handle paperwork and administrative duties for each autopsy.
    • Coroners determine whether a person's death was cause by accident, natural causes or murder.
      Coroners determine whether a person's death was cause by accident, natural causes or murder.
    • Part of a coroner's job is performing autopsies.
      Part of a coroner's job is performing autopsies.
    • A coroner may attend autopsies of bodies discovered at sudden death scenes.
      A coroner may attend autopsies of bodies discovered at sudden death scenes.
    • A coroner may test for the presence of harmful chemicals during an autopsy.
      A coroner may test for the presence of harmful chemicals during an autopsy.
    • An aspiring coroner who acts as a medical examiner must attend medical school.
      An aspiring coroner who acts as a medical examiner must attend medical school.