Wyoming

Coroner/Medical Examiner Laws

Medicolegal Death Investigation System

Is medical death investigation system centralized, county-based, or district-based?
County-based. Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 7-4-101.

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. Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 7-4-101.

“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?
[T]he county coroner may appoint deputy coroners . . . Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 7-4-102.

If so, what are the deputies’ roles?
[S]hall serve in the absence or inability of the coroner . . . Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 7-4-102.

What are the qualifications for deputies?
(i) Not later than one (1) year after assuming office, a basic coroner course;

(ii) Continuing education requirements promulgated by the board of coroner standards pursuant to W.S. 7-4-211(c)(iii).

Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 7-4-103.

Qualifications, Term of Office, and Training

Is the coroner or medical examiner position elected?
Yes. Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 7-4-101.

If so, how many years is the term of office?
Four. Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 7-4-101.

What are the qualifications specified by law?
(i) Not later than one (1) year after assuming office, a basic coroner course;

(ii) Continuing education requirements promulgated by the board of coroner standards pursuant to W.S. 7-4-211(c)(iii).

Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 7-4-103.

Investigations/Autopsies

What types of deaths are required to be investigated?
“Coroner’s case” means a case involving a death which was not anticipated and which may involve any of the following conditions:

(A) Violent or criminal action;

(B) Apparent suicide;

(C) Accident;

(D) Apparent drug or chemical overdose or toxicity;

(E) The deceased was unattended by a physician or other licensed health care provider;

(F) Apparent child abuse causes;

(G) The deceased was a prisoner, trustee, inmate or patient of any county or state corrections facility or state hospital, whether or not the death is unanticipated;

(H) If the cause is unknown or cannot be certified by a physician;

(J) A public health hazard is presented; or

(K) The identity of the victim is unknown or the body is unclaimed.

“County coroner” means the elected or appointed officer of the county whose task is to investigate the cause of death in a coroner’s case;

“Anticipated death” means the death of an individual who had been diagnosed by a physician acting within the scope of his license as being afflicted with an illness or disease reasonably likely to result in death, and there is no cause to believe the death occurred for any reasons other than those associated with the illness or disease;
“Unattended” means the deceased had not been under the care of a physician or other health care provider acting within the scope of his license within sixty (60) days immediately prior to the date of death.

Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 7-4-104.

When the coroner is notified that the dead body of any person has been found within the limits of the county or that the death resulted from injury sustained within the county and he suspects that the death is a coroner’s case, he shall conduct an investigation which may include:

(i) An examination of the body and an investigation into the medical history of the case;

(ii) The appointment of a qualified physician to assist in determining the cause of death;

(iii) An autopsy if the physician appointed to assist the coroner under this subsection determines an autopsy is necessary;

(iv) An inquest; or

(v) Any other reasonable procedure which may be necessary to determine the cause of death.

Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 7-4-201.

When a stillbirth occurs without medical attendance to the mother at or after the delivery or when inquiry is required by the postmortem examination, the coroner shall investigate the cause of stillbirth . . . Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 35-1-419.

What types of deaths are required to be autopsied?
When the coroner is notified that the dead body of any person has been found within the limits of the county or that the death resulted from injury sustained within the county and he suspects that the death is a coroner’s case, he shall conduct an investigation which may include:

(i) An examination of the body and an investigation into the medical history of the case;

(ii) The appointment of a qualified physician to assist in determining the cause of death;

(iii) An autopsy if the physician appointed to assist the coroner under this subsection determines an autopsy is necessary;

(iv) An inquest; or

(v) Any other reasonable procedure which may be necessary to determine the cause of death.

Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 7-4-201.

(a) When an inquisition is being held, if the coroner or the jury shall deem it requisite, he may summon one (1) or more physicians or surgeons, to make an autopsy or postmortem examination.

(b) If it is necessary to obtain or preserve evidence of the cause of death, the district attorney may order that a qualified physician perform an autopsy or postmortem examination of the body of any person who appears to have died by unlawful means, by violence, or when the cause of death is unknown.

Wyo. Stat. Ann. § 7-4-209.

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

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Page last reviewed: January 15, 2015