According to Louisiana Revised Statute 13:5713, the coroner shall either view the body or make an investigation into the cause and manner of death in all cases involving the following:
- Suspicious, unexpected, or unusual deaths
- Sudden or violent deaths
- Deaths due to unknown or obscure causes or in any unusual manner
- Bodies found dead
- Deaths due to suspected suicide or homicide
- Deaths in which poison is suspected
- Any death from natural causes occurring in a hospital under twenty-four hours of admission
- Deaths following an injury or accident either old or recent
- Deaths due to drowning, hanging, burns, electrocution, gunshot wounds, stabs or cutting, lightning, starvation, radiation, exposure, alcoholism, addiction, tetanus, strangulation, suffocation, or smothering
- Deaths due to trauma from whatever cause
- Deaths due to criminal means or by casualty
- Deaths in prison or while serving a sentence
- Deaths due to virulent contagious disease that might be caused by or cause a public hazard, including acquired immune deficiency syndrome
Q: What is the Coroner’s Office and why is it involved in this death?
A: The Coroner’s Office is directed by the Coroner, an elected official, who must be a medical doctor in Louisiana. The job of the Coroner, by law, is to investigate the circumstances of certain types of deaths in order to determine the cause and manner of death.
Cases which require a coroner’s investigation are:
- Sudden, unexpected death when in apparent good health
- Death of a person who is not under the recent care of a physician
- Any violent death (homicide, suicide, accident)
- Any death suspicious for violence
- Any unusual or unexpected death
Q: Where will my loved one be taken?
A: The body will be taken to the East Baton Rouge Parish Coroner’s Office and Medical Forensic Facility, 4030 T. B. Hearndon Avenue, Baton Rouge, LA 70807. In the case of a death that has been determined to be of natural causes, your loved one may be released directly to your Funeral Service Provider. (At the discretion of the Coroner)
Q: Is it necessary for me to go to the Coroner’s Office to identify the body?
A: No. In most cases visual identification is not required. If it is, you will be notified by the Coroner’s Office.
Q: Is viewing or visitation allowed at the Coroner’s Office?
A: Only in very rare cases. The Coroner’s office is not designed to handle bereaved relatives. Only in extremely unusual circumstances is viewing allowed. Modern law enforcement techniques typically allow for the positive identification of the deceased without having to put a family member through that traumatic experience. Arrangements for viewing at the funeral home should be made with the funeral home.
Q: When will my loved one be released from the Coroner’s Office?
A: The body will be released to the funeral home of your choice following completion of the investigation. Occasionally a body may be held longer in cases where additional investigation is required.
Q: Are autopsies always performed in a coroner’s case?
A: No. A coroner’s investigator gathers the information concerning the circumstances of death, the medical history, and the social history. If there is sufficient history and the circumstances are consistent with a death due to known medical problems, an autopsy is not usually performed. If however, there is any evidence of foul play or if the circumstances of the death are unusual, an autopsy is usually performed. If the Coroner determines an autopsy is not necessary but the family wishes to have an autopsy performed, they may contact a private pathologist for this service.
*NOTE*: The decision to perform an autopsy rests with the Coroner.
Q: Will an autopsy prevent an open casket funeral?
Q: How do I obtain a copy of the death certificate?
A: You may request a copy from the funeral home where arrangements are made.
Q: How long does it take for the death certificate to be completed?
A: The death certificate is usually completed within 4-8 weeks.
Q: When will the autopsy report be ready and how do I obtain a copy?
A: The autopsy report is usually ready about 60-90 days after the autopsy is performed.
Copies of the autopsy report may be obtained from the Coroner’s Office. Appropriate forms and fees will apply. An autopsy report on cases under police investigation will not be released to anyone other than law enforcement agencies.