When you have lost a loved one as a result of the negligence of another party, you may wish to seek compensation. You don't necessarily need an autopsy to prove that the cause of your loved one's death was wrongful, but you may need an autopsy to verify the cause of the death and to prove that the defendant is responsible for the death.
The Cause of Death
Oftentimes, an individual succumbs to his or her injuries days or even weeks after the accident. However, an autopsy will determine the cause of death and will allow you to trace it back to the defendant's actions.
For instance, you may be pursuing a wrongful death case against your family doctor when the cause of death was actually a condition that should have been diagnosed by a specialist. In other cases, there may be multiple parties involved who are responsible for the death and each would deserve to only share part of the burden for paying for damages.
Patients who are suffering from illnesses such as cancer can face unexpected complications that may be the actual cause of death. For example, a patient who is suffering from cancer may pass away due to a blood clot. You may also need an autopsy to prove that your loved one didn't pass away due to natural causes.
What to Expect From an Autopsy
An autopsy is usually carried out by a qualified pathologist. They will produce a detailed report of the internal and external examination of the body. The findings of the pathologist are considered by the courts to be much more definitive than what is listed on a death certificate.
Don't Assume That an Autopsy Will Be Performed
The majority of deaths do not have an autopsy performed afterward since the hospital will want to direct resources elsewhere. Therefore, if you believe that the wrongful death was a result of negligence, you may need to demand an autopsy immediately. This can ensure that you have closure as soon as possible, rather than wondering what the autopsy could have revealed.
If you are still not sure whether you should have an autopsy performed, bring this up with your wrongful death attorney. A wrongful death attorney will help you understand your options and will also represent you in court. An autopsy is part of the discovery process of your lawsuit. Because the hospital could be unwilling to perform an autopsy, you may need a wrongful death lawyer to insist that the autopsy happens.