Coroner/Medical Examiner Laws

Medicolegal Death Investigation System

Is medical death investigation system centralized, county-based, or district-based?
District-based. Fla. Stat. Ann. § 406.05.

If centralized, in which department or agency is the system housed?
Not applicable.

Does the state system have a coroner, medical examiner, or coroners and medical examiners?
Medical examiner. Fla. Stat. Ann. § 406.05.

“In practice” notes

Is there a state medical examiner?

If so, what is the state medical examiner’s role?
Not applicable.

In what department or agency is the state medical examiner’s office located?
Not applicable.

Are there deputies?
The district medical examiner may appoint as many physicians as associate medical examiners as may be necessary to provide service at all times and all places within the district. Fla. Stat. Ann. § 406.06.

If so, what are the deputies’ roles?
[T]o provide service at all times and all places within the district . . . Fla. Stat. Ann. § 406.06.

What are the qualifications for deputies?
Physician. Fla. Stat. Ann. § 406.06.

Qualifications, Term of Office, and Training

Is the coroner or medical examiner position elected?
No. Fla. Admin. Code Ann. r. 11G-5.003; Fla. Admin. Code Ann. r. 11G-1.002.

If so, how many years is the term of office?
Not applicable.

What are the qualifications specified by law?
Practicing physicians in pathology. Fla. Stat. Ann. § 406.06.


What types of deaths are required to be investigated?
In any of the following circumstances involving the death of a human being, the medical examiner of the district in which the death occurred or the body was found shall determine the cause of death and shall, for that purpose, make or have performed such examinations, investigations, and autopsies as he or she shall deem necessary or as shall be requested by the state attorney:

(a) When any person dies in the state:

1. Of criminal violence.

2. By accident.

3. By suicide.

4. Suddenly, when in apparent good health.

5. Unattended by a practicing physician or other recognized practitioner.

6. In any prison or penal institution.

7. In police custody.

8. In any suspicious or unusual circumstance.

9. By criminal abortion.

10. By poison.

11. By disease constituting a threat to public health.

12. By disease, injury, or toxic agent resulting from employment.

(b) When a dead body is brought into the state without proper medical certification.

(c) When a body is to be cremated, dissected, or buried at sea.

Fla. Stat. Ann. § 406.11.

What types of deaths are required to be autopsied?
The district medical examiner shall have the authority in any case coming under subsection (1) [investigated deaths] to perform, or have performed, whatever autopsies or laboratory examinations he or she deems necessary and in the public interest to determine the identification of or cause or manner of death of the deceased or to obtain evidence necessary for forensic examination. Fla. Stat. Ann. § 406.11.

The medical examiner must perform an autopsy upon any infant under the age of 1 year who is suspected to have died of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. Fla. Stat. Ann. § 383.3362.

Absent good cause, an autopsy shall be performed when:

(a) A reasonable suspicion exists that a death might be by criminal violence or by any violence sustained in prison, a penal institution, or police custody.

(b) A reasonable suspicion exists that the death is by accident, suicide or poison, unless:

1. The death is by poison and the deceased has survived in a hospital for a time sufficient to metabolize the poison, or

2. The death is by accident or suicide and the cause of death can be determined from a review of the circumstances, history, and available medical records.

(c) The death of a child is apparently natural and occurs suddenly while in apparent good health.

(d) The circumstances of death are unusual or suspicious by reason of the body being unidentified after investigation, charred, or completely or partially skeletonized.

Fla. Admin. Code Ann. r. 11G-2.003.

Does the state require that pathologists perform the autopsies?
Yes, [m]edical examiner autopsies performed pursuant to Section 406.11, F.S., shall be performed by pathologists or directly supervised residents in pathology . . . Fla. Admin. Code Ann. r. 11G-2.003.

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