Duties of the County Coroner include:
- The identification of the deceased;
- The determination of the cause of death
- The determination of the manner of death
Identification may be as easy as having a family member at the scene when you get there or as difficult as having only a few bones to work with and having to utilize one of the many experts available to your coroner.
The cause of death is the final factor or event that happened to the deceased. If this had not happened, the individual would still be alive. This may be a cascade of factors or events, one following the other and this will be reflected on the death certificate that your coroner files with the county health department.
Asphyxia (inability to breathe), due to chest compression, due to settling of automobile, due to the failure of a jacking apparatus.
This group of factors is referred to as the mechanism, which in this example lead to asphyxia: which is the cause of death.
Manner of death is a descriptive grouping. It is, however, a firmly set, universally accepted acknowledgment of how people die. These possibilities are:
- Death by natural causes
- Inmate deaths or cases in which the cause of death originated while the deceased was incarcerated
- Deaths caused by diseases that may be public health threats
- Deaths of people whose bodies are to be cremated, buried at sea, transported out of state, or otherwise unavailable for pathological study
- Deaths of transplant surgery donors that are the result of some type of trauma
The vast majority of coroner investigations are natural deaths, including situations in which there is no attending physician to sign the death certificate, sudden or unexpected deaths, or cases involving alcohol or other drugs of abuse.