Requirements for Reporting Deaths to the Office of Coroner
LA. R.S. 33:1563
Duty to hold autopsies, investigations, etc.
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 without an attending physician within thirty-six hours prior to the hour of death.
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 admission unless seen by a physician in the last thirty-six hours.
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.
Coroner's jurisdiction is generally determined by the type of death, and/or the parish of domicile.
It is necessary that the coroner of the parish in which the death occurs does an initial investigation in order to determine jurisdiction. Thus, all deaths required to be reported to the coroner should be reported to this office and this parish will be responsible for notifying other coroners, if appropriate.
Where is my loved one being taken?
Your loved one will be transported to the Terrebonne Parish Coroner's Office Morgue.This facility is where we will perform a medical examination on the deceased.
Why is the coroner involved in the death of my loved one?
The following is a list of deaths the coroner is required by law to investigate.
Suspected sudden infant death syndrome (crib deaths).
Death occurring within 24 hours of admission at a hospital or health care facility.
Physician unable to state cause of death.
Known or suspected homicide.
Known or suspected suicide.
Death involving any criminal action.
Related to or following known or suspected self-induced or criminal abortion.
Following an accident or injury (primary or contributory). Deaths known or suspected as a result in whole or in part from or related to accident or injury, either old or recent.
Drowning, fire, hanging, gunshot, stabbing, exposure, acute alcoholism, drug addition, strangulation, aspiration, or malnutrition.
Known or suspected contagious disease constituting a public hazard.
Unattended deaths (no physician in attendance or during the continued absence of the attending physician).
All deaths of unidentified persons.
Is an autopsy always performed?
Not always. If the death is a "Natural Death" and the deceased has a physician who knows the medical cause of death and will furnish the coroner with an acceptable cause, the coroner will normally not perform an autopsy.
Why are autopsies performed?
There are a number of reasons autopsies are performed. However, the basic reason is to determine the medical cause of death. Another primary reason is to gather evidence for presentation in a court of law.
Is there a charge for these services?
Is it necessary for me to come to the coroner's office to identify the body?
No. In a majority of the cases, visual identification is not required. Should it become necessary for you to come in or assist in obtaining medical and/or dental records you will be contacted.
Can I come see him/her?
Due to legal and health issues, visitation of the loved one is done only at the funeral home after the body is properly prepared.
What about funeral arrangements?
Contact the funeral director of your choice as soon as possible and advise him/her what has transpired. Your funeral director will then coordinate further arrangements with the hospital and help you begin the preparations for your loved one's funeral.
What about tissue/organ donation?
The approval of the coroner's office is required for tissue/organ donation for deaths that are under the auspices of the coroner's jurisdiction. With next of kin consent, the family's wishes for donation will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis; a representative of the tissue/organ donation organization may contact you.
How long will it take before my relative/friend is released from the coroner's office?
Generally it should not take more than two days. Your Funeral Director will coordinate the release on your behalf.
What should I do now?
As soon as possible, select a funeral home of your choice and inform the funeral director that the death is being handled by the coroner's office. Ask them to contact us. Our office does not select funeral homes, nor do we make arrangements. The coroner must be provided with written authorization to release the deceased to a funeral home.
My relative/friend was in the military. Who may I contact for information?
Persons who have served in the Armed Forces, were honorably discharged, and meet other service requirements are entitled to Veteran's benefits. Your funeral director may assist you with Military Veteran's or Social Security Benefits.
How and when may personal possessions be claimed?
Any personal possessions in the custody of the coroner are released to the legal next of kin at the time of death notification. A release form is required to receive any personal possessions. Clothing is not usually considered property. Unless there is a need to hold clothing as evidence, it is released to the mortuary with the body. Clothing that presents a health hazard may be disposed of for safety of all persons involved.
There are family members in the service. How are they notified?
You may call the American Red Cross. The Red Cross will assist you in notification of the decease's next of kin and arrangements for the family member's return home.
Any additional questions will be gladly answered by the Terrebonne Parish Coroner's Office.