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Human Resources


La Crosse County
Law Enforcement Center

333 Vine St - Suite 1730
La Crosse, WI 54601

fax: 608-793-6517
office: 608-785-9638

Non-office hours and
Emergency: 608-785-9634

Medical Examiner Office


Medical Examiner



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. The contact information for Funeral Homes located in La Crosse County can be located under the Helpful Links Tab.

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. Your Funeral Director can also assist you with this process.

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 a refrigerated storage facility at the LaCrosse County Medical Examiner’s Office.  After completion of the autopsy and/or tests, He/She will be released to the Funeral Home of the family’s choice.

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 2 year of age must be autopsied.

Q: Is there a charge for an autopsy?

A. There is not a charge for an autopsy ordered by the Medical Examiner or for any other duties the Medical Examiner performs outside of the fees charged for Death Certificates, Cremation Permits and Disinterment Permits. If the family wishes to pursue an autopsy or any other testing on their own they would be financially responsible for those charges and any other related expenses and to make the arrangements for those services. The La Crosse County Medical Examiner’s Office cannot make recommendations on providers for those services. Other area Pathologists are listed under the Helpful Links Tab.

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 Examiner’s 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.  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 to the Funeral Home of the family’s choice.  If more tests are required, the body will be transported to the La Crosse County Medical Examiner’s Office.  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 10 days of the date of death. The contact information for the La Crosse County Register of Deeds can be located under the Helpful Links Tab.

Q: How and when can Personal Possessions be claimed?

A. Any personal possessions in the custody of the Medical Examiner’s Office, may be claimed by the legal next of kin.  To avoid any inconvenience to you, please call the La Crosse County Medical Examiner at 608-785-9638 to make arrangements to pick up any items. Sometimes personal possessions are taken into custody by other Law Enforcement Agencies at their request.  You will have to contact that agency to pick up those items.

Q: Is it necessary that I identify the body at the Medical Examiner's Office?

A. Only in rare instances do we require family members to come to our facility to make a visual identification. If necessary in most cases this can be done based on a photograph (for example, when the remains are those of an unidentified person or when the identification has not been previously confirmed).

The La Crosse County Medical Examiner's Office does not allow the viewing of decedents at our facility under any circumstances. Since the funeral home is the more appropriate setting for the viewing of remains, we ask families and friends to be patient and allow us to complete our examination, so that the decedent can be quickly released to the funeral home of their choice.