The Coroner is an elected public official. It is a four year term. The Coroner can appoint Deputy Coroners. A person must be 18 years of age and a high school graduate to be eligible. The Coroner must attend a 40-hour class on death investigation, and then attend 16 hours of advance training every two years.
Montana law requires that the Coroner be notified immediately of a death. No individual may move a deceased person without authorization from the Coroner. All cremations of human remains must be approved by the County Coroner of the county where the death occurred. The Coroner works closely with all law enforcement agencies, the County Attorney, medical personnel and the State Medical Examiner.
The Coroner must establish the identity of the deceased person and provide for notifying the next of kin. The Coroner must determine the cause and manner of death. Manner of death is listed as accident, homicide, suicide, natural or undetermined. Cause of death is a medical-legal determination, such as cancer, heart attack, or blunt force trauma. Toxicology specimens are taken and sent to the State Crime Lab. The Coroner can get assistance from the State Medical Examiner. If in the opinion of the Coroner an autopsy is advisable, he shall order one be conducted by a pathologist.
Copies of Death Certificates can be obtained at the county Clerk & Recorder Office
Examples of Deaths Investigated:
Death caused or suspected to have been caused by an injury, either recent or remote in origin.
Death caused or suspected to have been caused by the deceased or any other person that was the result of an act or omission.
Death occurring less than 24 hours after the deceased was admitted to a medical facility.
Death occurring in a manner that was unattended or un-witnessed and the deceased was not attended by a physician at any time in the 30 day period prior to death.
Death that occurred under suspicious circumstances
Death that has occurred and no licensed physician will sign a death certificate