• What deaths fall within the jurisdiction of the Medical Examiner?

    Wisconsin State Statute 979.01 outlines the deaths that fall within the jurisdiction of the Medical Examiner’s Office. 

    The types of deaths that we investigate include:

    1. All deaths in which there are unexplained, unusual or suspicious circumstances.
    2. All homicides.
    3. All suicides.
    4. All deaths following an abortion.
    5. All deaths due to poisoning (toxicity), whether homicidal, suicidal or accidental in nature.
    6. All deaths following accidents, whether the injury is or is not the primary cause of death.
    7. When there was no physician, or accredited practitioner of a bona fide religious denomination relying upon prayer or spiritual means for healing, in attendance within 30 days preceding death.
    8. When a physician refuses to sign the death certificate.
    9. When, after reasonable efforts, a physician cannot be obtained to sign the medical certification, as required unders. 69.18 (2) (b) or (C), within 6 days after the pronouncement of death, or sooner under circumstances which the Coroner or Medical Examiner determines to be an emergency.


    Based on the information collected during the death investigation, the Medical Examiner will then consider the facts of each case individually, and determine whether it falls within the legal jurisdiction of the office.  To select appropriate cases may require information from many sources:  witnesses, family and friends; information from personal physicians and medical records; information from law enforcement agencies; information from the scene investigation, etc..  While this investigative process is underway, the decedent’s body may be transported to the Waukesha County Medical Examiner's Office for temporary storage. If our office assumes jurisdiction, the Medical Examiner will then decide what level of investigation/examination is necessary to determine the cause and manner of death.