Birth and death are the only two universal human experiences.
Birth is the most important biological event in the life of any human being. If it does not occur, there is no being. If there is no person, no legal rights and duties arise, for the law relates to the rights and duties of living people, not inanimate objects.
Death on the other hand, is the most important legal event for all human beings. When it occurs, all legal rights and duties devolving upon the person during his life span in a civilized jurisdiction are terminated. All persons with whom the deceased had legal relations at that moment in time are also directly affected by the occurrence of death.
Moreover, both the decedent and the survivors may be greatly affected legally by HOW death occurred, WHAT actually happened, WHY it occurred, and precisely WHEN it occurred. Above all, WHO died must be absolutely determined, and WHERE death occurred is positively required as legal jurisdiction over the decedent and is based upon a geographical location. The law becomes extremely active when a person dies.
The office of Coroner, or Medical Examiner, along with the state licensed physician is legally charged with WHAT, HOW and WHY. Only when these questions have been answered correctly can all the proper legal issues arising at death be effectively handled for the proper administration of justice.
Although the legal aspects of death are most important, certainly the religious and humanitarian heritages of a civilized society also command a deep concern over the death of a human being.
Human death obligates the living to acquire facts on which laws to apply for each deceased member of the human race.
The obligation for proper death investigation is mandatory for legal, religious and humanitarian satisfactions in society. Let those responsible for death investigations take heed; they labor not only for the state but also for God.
Excerpts from the Illinois Coroner's Creed taken from “Death Investigation and Examination,” The American Academy of Forensic Sciences. Permission granted by Kenneth S. Field, Forensic Sciences Foundation, April 12, 1988.
Therefore, it is in the pursuit of that Creed and the responsibilities set forth in the Illinois State Statutes that we have conducted the most professional and cost-efficient death investigations in all cases of:
- Violent death (homicide, suicide, accidental).
- Natural death as prescribed by law.
- Death where circumstances surrounding the death are obscure or mysterious