Nebraska

Coroner/Medical Examiner Laws

Medicolegal Death Investigation System

Is medical death investigation system centralized, county-based, or district-based?
County-based. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 23-1820.

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?
Coroner. [County attorney is elected and t]he county attorney shall perform all of the duties enjoined by law upon the county coroner and the county attorney shall be the ex officio county coroner. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 23-1820; Neb. Rev. Stat. § 23-1201.01; Neb. Rev. Stat. § 23-1210.

“In practice” notes
None.

Is there a state medical examiner?
No.

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?
Yes, [t]he county attorney may, with the approval and consent of the county board, appoint one or more deputies . . . to assist him in the discharge of his duties. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 23-1204.

[Also inferred from Neb. Rev. Stat. § 23-1213.03: Every person who is elected or appointed as a coroner or deputy coroner in or for the State of Nebraska shall satisfactorily complete initial death investigation training within one year after the date of election or appointment and thereafter annually complete continuing education as determined by the council.]

In each county there is hereby created the office of coroner’s physician, who shall be appointed by the coroner of the county . . . Neb. Rev. Stat. § 23-1820.

If so, what are the deputies’ roles?
[T]o assist him in the discharge of his duties. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 23-1204.

Such [coroner’s] physician shall certify the cause of death in every case of death in such county not certified by an attending physician and shall perform or cause to be performed an autopsy when requested by the coroner or as provided in section 23-1824. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 23-1820.

What are the qualifications for deputies?
[S]hall satisfactorily complete initial death investigation training within one year after the date of election or appointment and thereafter annually complete continuing education as determined by the council. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 23-1213.03.

Qualifications, Term of Office, and Training

Is the coroner or medical examiner position elected?
Yes [county attorney is elected and t]he county attorney shall perform all of the duties enjoined by law upon the county coroner and the county attorney shall be the ex officio county coroner]. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 23-1201.01; Neb. Rev. Stat. § 23-1210.

If so, how many years is the term of office?
Four. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 32-522.

What are the qualifications specified by law?
Every person who is elected or appointed as a coroner or deputy coroner in or for the State of Nebraska shall satisfactorily complete initial death investigation training within one year after the date of election or appointment and thereafter annually complete continuing education as determined by the council. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 23-1213.03.

Investigations/Autopsies

What types of deaths are required to be investigated?
In each instance when the county coroner is given notice in accordance with section 23-1821 [when it appears that an individual has died while being apprehended by or while in the custody of a law enforcement officer or detention personnel], the coroner or coroner’s physician shall perform an examination, a test, or an autopsy as he or she may deem necessary to establish, by a reasonable degree of medical certainty, the cause or causes of death and shall thereafter certify the cause or causes of death to the presiding judge of the district court. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 23-1822.

What types of deaths are required to be autopsied?
The county coroner or coroner’s physician shall perform, at county expense, an autopsy on any person less than nineteen years of age who dies a sudden death, except that no autopsy needs to be performed if (a) the death was caused by a readily recognizable disease or the death occurred due to trauma resulting from an accident and (b) the death did not occur under suspicious circumstances. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 23-1824.

In each instance when the county coroner is given notice in accordance with section 23-1821 [when it appears that an individual has died while being apprehended by or while in the custody of a law enforcement officer or detention personnel], the coroner or coroner’s physician shall perform an examination, a test, or an autopsy as he or she may deem necessary to establish, by a reasonable degree of medical certainty, the cause or causes of death and shall thereafter certify the cause or causes of death to the presiding judge of the district court. Neb. Rev. Stat. § 23-1822.

Does the state require that pathologists perform the autopsies?
No.

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Page last reviewed: January 15, 2015