Is an Autopsy Necessary in a Wrongful Death Case?

An autopsy is a medical exam of the body after a person passes away. Autopsies are performed in many different situations and help to determine the cause, mode, and manner of death. Autopsies can help bring closure to families and authorities and can be used both for investigative and educational purposes. However, is an autopsy always necessary in a wrongful death case?

Why an Autopsy Would be Needed in a Wrongful Death Case

Wrongful death claims arise anytime it is suspected that one individual lost their life due to the negligent or intentional actions of another individual or entity. These claims are filed in civil court by a surviving family member, usually a surviving spouse or next of kin. Sometimes, these claims are filed by a personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate.

There are various elements that must be in place in order for a wrongful death claim to be viable and for the family members or the estate to receive compensation from the at-fault party. It must be shown that the other party was negligent and that their negligence caused the death of the deceased. Sometimes, the elements of negligence can be established by gathering evidence related to the incident, such as video surveillance footage, eyewitness statements, photographs, and various other forensic evidence available.

However, an autopsy is often necessary in order to gain a thorough understanding of how the individual died. It is crucial to have as much information as possible when going to trial against the alleged negligent party, and an autopsy may uncover enough evidence to push aside any doubt about how a person died.

Autopsies are typically conducted by a county coroner, but that individual may not be a doctor. For wrongful death claims, a medical examiner who is a doctor (usually a pathologist) we’ll need to conduct the autopsy. An attorney handling the wrongful death claim can help ensure that an autopsy is done by an unbiased, third-party medical examiner if needed.

Autopsies examine every aspect of the body, both inside and out, and look for any evidence that can establish the cause of death. This includes visual examinations as well as chemical, microscopic, and microbiological exams. Autopsies can typically determine whether someone died as a result of a traumatic incident or as a result of some other source, such as poisoning, chemical exposure, environmental factors, and more.

Speak to an Attorney

We strongly recommend that any person who has lost a loved one due to the negligence of another reach out to a Nashville wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. When you have a wrongful death lawyer in Tennessee by your side, you will have an advocate ready to handle every aspect of the claim on your behalf. This includes helping ensure a smooth investigation into the incident and working with trusted medical professionals to handle the autopsy.

We understand that choosing to have an autopsy performed is an emotional decision for family members. However, the evidence uncovered in an autopsy could help directly point to the at-fault party’s actions. If you have any questions about your particular wrongful death claim or autopsies related to the case, please reach out to an attorney today.