Coroner Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Coroner, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Coroner?

A county officer whose resposibility is to inquire the cause of death of a person who dies sudden death under violent or mysterious circumstances or in prison.His duty is the examine the dead body and place of death carefully and make a report.He can ask for a postmortem report to be made by a physician to conclude upon the cause of death.

History and Meaning of Coroner

The word "coroner" has its roots in medieval England, where the crown appointed an individual in each county to investigate deaths that were suspicious or unusual. Over time, coroners took on additional duties, such as determining if a person was legally dead for inheritance purposes, and their role eventually became codified into English law. Today, coroners are common in common law countries such as the United States, Canada, and Australia.

In the United States, coroners are typically elected officials who oversee the investigation of deaths that occur within their county. They work with law enforcement, medical professionals, and forensic specialists to determine the cause and manner of death. While coroners are not required to have a medical background, they often have training in forensic pathology or medicine.

Examples of Coroner

  1. The coroner was called to the scene of a car accident to determine the cause of death of the driver.

  2. The family requested that the coroner perform an autopsy to determine the cause of their loved one's death, which occurred at home.

  3. In a high-profile case, the coroner ruled the death of a celebrity to be a suicide, contrary to what the public had initially believed.

Legal Terms Similar to Coroner

  1. Medical Examiner - Medical examiners are similar to coroners in that they investigate sudden or unexpected deaths. However, medical examiners are typically appointed positions, and they often have a medical background.

  2. Forensic Pathologist - A forensic pathologist is a medical doctor who specializes in examining dead bodies in order to determine the cause of death. They often work closely with coroners and medical examiners.

  3. Inquest - An inquest is a legal proceeding that investigates the circumstances surrounding a person's death. Inquests often involve a coroner or medical examiner, and they may be conducted in cases where there are no criminal charges pending.