WHAT TO KNOW
Please accept our condolences on the loss of your loved one or friend. The following material is intended to provide you with information that our experience has shown to be of value during this difficult time.
DEATHS REPORTED TO THE CORONER'S OFFICE
Please see the Kentucky Revised Statutes...
72.025 Circumstances requiring post-mortem examination to be performed by coroner. Coroners shall require a post-mortem examination to be performed in the following circumstances:
(1) When the death of a human being appears to be caused by homicide or violence;
(2) When the death of a human being appears to be the result of suicide;
(3) When the death of a human being appears to be the result of the presence of drugs or poisons in the body;
(4) When the death of a human being appears to be the result of a motor vehicle accident and the operator of the motor vehicle left the scene of the accident or the body was found in or near a roadway or railroad;
(5) When the death of a human being occurs while the person is in a state mental institution or mental hospital when there is no previous medical history to explain the death, or while the person is in police custody, a jail or penal institution;
(6) When the death of a human being occurs in a motor vehicle accident and when an external examination of the body does not reveal a lethal traumatic injury;
(7) When the death of a human being appears to be the result of a fire or explosion;
(8) When the death of a child appears to indicate child abuse prior to the death; (9) When the manner of death appears to be other than natural;
(10) When human skeletonized remains are found;
(11) When post-mortem decomposition of a human corpse exists to the extent that external examination of the corpse cannot rule out injury or where the circumstances of death cannot rule out the commission of a crime;
(12) When the death of a human being appears to be the result of drowning;
(13) When the death of an infant appears to be caused by sudden infant death syndrome in that the infant has no previous medical history to explain the death; (14) When the death of a human being occurs as a result of an accident;
(15) When the death of a human being occurs under the age of forty (40) and there is no past medical history to explain the death;
(16) When the death of a human being occurs at the work site and there is no apparent cause of death such as an injury or when industrial toxics may have contributed to the cause of death;
(17) When the body is to be cremated and there is no past medical history to explain the death;
(18) When the death of a human being is sudden and unexplained; and
(19) When the death of a human being occurs and the decedent is not receiving treatment by a licensed physician and there is no ascertainable medical history to indicate the cause of death.
Effective: July 15, 1998 History: Amended 1998 Ky. Acts ch. 406, sec. 1, effective July 15, 1998. -- Amended 1986 Ky. Acts ch. 316, sec. 1, effective July 15, 1986. -- Created 1982 Ky. Acts ch.
72.026 Testing for presence of controlled substances in post-mortem examination -- When required -- Reporting of drug overdose -- Administrative regulations.
(1) In cases requiring a post-mortem examination under KRS 72.025, the coroner or medical examiner shall take a biological sample and have it tested for the presence of any controlled substances which were in the body at the time of death and which at the scene may have contributed to the cause of death.
(2) If a coroner or medical examiner determines that a drug overdose is the cause of death of a person, he or she shall provide notice of the death to: (a) The state registrar of vital statistics and the Department of Kentucky State Police. The notice shall include any information relating to the drug that resulted in the overdose. The state registrar of vital statistics shall not enter the information on the deceased person's death certificate unless the information is already on the death certificate; (b) The licensing board for the individual who prescribed or dispensed the medication, if known. The notice shall include any information relating to the drug that resulted in the overdose, including the individual authorized by law to prescribe or dispense drugs who dispensed or prescribed the drug to the decedent; and (c) For coroners only, the Commonwealth's attorney and a local law enforcement agency in the circuit where the death occurred, if the death resulted from the use of a Schedule I controlled substance. The notice shall include all information as to the types and concentrations of Schedule I drugs detected. This subsection shall not apply to reporting the name of a pharmacist who dispensed a drug based on a prescription.
(3) The state registrar of vital statistics shall report, within five (5) business days of the receipt of a certified death certificate or amended death certificate, to the Division of Kentucky State Medical Examiners Office, any death which has resulted from the use of drugs or a drug overdose.
(4) The Justice and Public Safety Cabinet in consultation with the Kentucky State Medical Examiners Office shall promulgate administrative regulations necessary to administer this section.
Effective: March 25, 2015 History: Amended 2015 Ky. Acts ch. 66, sec. 1, effective March 25, 2015. -- Created 2012 (1st Extra. Sess.) Ky. Acts ch. 1, sec. 7, effective July 20, 2012.
AUTOPSY & TOXICOLOGY TESTING
When a death appears to be from natural causes, the cause of death may be available after 10 to 14 days following the death. However, when the death is the result of a homicide, suicide, accident, and in many natural deaths, the cause of death may not be available for 16-20 weeks due to delays in forensic testing and the receipt of medical records. This does not delay release of the body. The body may be released to a funeral home as soon as the autopsy is completed.
PERSONAL PROPERTY AND EFFECTS
A deceased person’s property may be claimed by contacting the Coroner’s Office to make the necessary appointment. The Coroner’s Office releases personal property by appointment only. In accordance with federal and state bloodborne pathogen standards, clothing, and/or other items contaminated with blood or body fluids are disposed of unless the item has obvious significant value or collected for evidentiary purposes. The bloodborne pathogen laws and standards were established to protect the general public as well as our employees. The next of kin must sign, in person, for all remaining property or must authorize another person in writing to receive the property. After 90 days of the case closed, all unclaimed property will be disposed of per department policy.
The general order of priority for release of property is:
Spouse or Registered domestic partner
Other relatives meeting the test of the Code
72.420 Coroner's inquest -- Subpoenas -- Stenographic services -- Verdict.
(1) A coroner may, in his sound discretion, order an inquest in any coroner's case. The inquest shall be conducted by a coroner's jury consisting of six (6) reputable citizens of the county selected and sworn by the coroner. The coroner may issue subpoenas and subpoenas duces tecum. No subpoenaed witness shall fail to appear as ordered. Application may be made by the coroner to the Circuit Court for punishment by contempt for failure to obey a coroner's subpoena.
(2) The coroner may employ stenographic services to record the proceeding. Payment for stenographic services shall be made by the fiscal court or urban-county government, whichever is appropriate, upon certification by the coroner that the services were rendered.
(3) In the event the jury returns a verdict of murder, manslaughter, or other criminal act, the coroner shall arrest the named individual or notify the appropriate law enforcement authority to arrest such individual to be dealt with according to law. A copy of the verdict shall be filed with the appropriate Circuit Court clerk.
Effective: June 17, 1978 History: Created 1978 Ky. Acts ch. 93, sec. 8, effective June 17, 1978.