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Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What should I do now?

A. As soon as possible, select a funeral home and inform the funeral director that the death is being handled by the Medical Examiner's office.  Ask them to please notify us.  Our office does not select funeral homes, nor do we make arrangements for the family.

Q: There are no funds for burial. What can I do?

A. If the deceased or the legal next of kin do not have sufficient funds for burial, the alternative might be county disposition.  In these circumstances, proof of indigence is required.  Contact the County Department of Human Services for more information.

Q: Where will my relative/friend be taken?

A. In most cases He/She will be released to the funeral home of the family's choice.  In cases where the Law Enforcement agency investigating the death has requested an Autopsy or more tests are needed to determine a cause of death, He/She will be transported to the morgue, located at Franciscan Skemp Healthcare, 700 West Avenue South, La Crosse.  After completion of the autopsy and/or tests, He/She will be released to the funeral home.

Q: Will an Autopsy be performed?

A. The Medical Examiner investigator will decide if an autopsy is necessary to establish the cause and circumstances of death.  We may not perform an autopsy if the cause of death can be determined to be from "Natural Causes" and the deceased has been under the care of a physician who knows the medical history and will furnish the Medical Examiner with information relative to the probable cause of death.  All infants under the age of 1 year of age must be autopsied.

Q: Will autopsy reports be made available?

A. Yes.  A completed autopsy report will be sent to the listed next of kin by the Medical Examiners office.  If you would like to obtain additional information regarding a case, contact the Medical Examiner's office at (608) 785-9638

Q:  Why is the Medical Examiner involved?

A. State law requires the Medical Examiner to inquire into and determine the circumstances, manner, and cause of all sudden, violent, and unusual deaths, and those deaths where the decedent has not been by a physician in 30 days prior to death.  The Medical Examiner investigator will conduct a preliminary investigation of the scene and the circumstances.  If a reasonable cause of death is determined by this investigation then the body will we released.  If more tests are required, the body will be transported to a morgue facility.  A final Death Certificate will be issued
upon completion of the investigation.

Q: Where can I obtain a death certificate?

A. Death certificates are filed with the Register of Deeds located in the La Crosse County Administrative Center. If you require certified copies, they can be ordered by the Funeral home or they may be purchased from the Register of Deeds.  Death certificates are generally filed within 14 days of the date of death.

Q: How and when can Personal Possessions be claimed?

A. Any personal possessions in the custody of the Medical Examiners office, may be claimed by the legal next of kin.  To avoid any inconvenience to you, please call the pager number for the Medical Examiner to make arrangements to pick up any items.  That number is (608) 789-1038. Sometimes personal possessions are taken into custody by other law enforcement agencies at their request.  You will have to contact that agency.

Updated:   04/08/2004                                  

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