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Chicago Personal Injury Blog

Is an Autopsy Required in a Wrongful Death Claim?

by Jared Staver in Wrongful Death

Many of us find it necessary to seek answers about our loved one’s passing after their death. An autopsy in a wrongful death claim may help determine what exactly happened. Since it can be difficult to determine when one is necessary and how it will exactly affect your family’s legal situation, you need an experienced attorney to help you with your case.

To discuss your wrongful death case and whether an autopsy is needed, contact a Chicago wrongful death attorney at Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. today at (312) 236-2900. We can discuss your legal options during our free case evaluation.

When An Autopsy is Performed

Less than one in 20 deaths in the United States are followed by autopsies. While autopsies used to be more common, they occur less since hospitals want to apply resources elsewhere and avoid potential liability. Autopsies can be performed by the medical organization that cared for the deceased right before death, a county official, or private third party.

Autopsies are generally required when the cause of death is unknown or if wrongdoing may have been involved. An autopsy may be required at the discretion of the county coroner in cases such as:

  • Deaths which are suspicious and may have happened due to murder or an undefined accident.
  • Situations with a sudden death, such as a baby dying due to Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS).
  • Cases of suicide, accidental poisoning, or drug overdose.

Getting an Autopsy After Your Loved One’s Death

If the death of your loved one happened suddenly and you believe the negligence or malicious behavior of a medical professional or another indivudal played a role, you can demand an autopsy immediately.

In the event you choose to file a wrongful death claim, you should seek a skilled lawyer in order to properly gather any evidence that can help you recover damages. Many times, hospitals will not want to perform an autopsy since it could reveal they are partially liable for the person’s death. But, an experienced Chicago wrongful death lawyer can make sure that sufficient information is gathered regarding your loved one’s passing.

Some things to consider before requesting an autopsy include:

  • If an autopsy is to be performed, it’s best to have it done as soon as possible. However, even if it is performed months or years after death, the procedure could still provide some answers.
  • The cost of an autopsy will generally be covered by the state if it is performed by the coroner, but not always if it is performed by a private party.
  • The death certificate of your loved one may describe the cause of death as “pending” if an autopsy is underway, but this can still be used as a proof of death in most situations.
  • Autopsies will still allow for your loved one to have a funeral and an open casket if you choose.
  • Given the complexity of the procedure, an autopsy can take hours, days, or over a week.

Contact a Chicago Wrongful Death Lawyer Today

Many times, people pass away and there remains confusion as to what actually caused their death. If you feel that your loved one died due to the negligence or malicious behavior of another, you should seek an experienced Chicago wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. Having an autopsy in a wrongful death claim can help determine who was responsible for the damages that you and your family have suffered.

Having a loved one suddenly die can be very stressful, and you may be confused about what to do next. If you think you may want to pursue a wrongful death claim, contact Staver Accident Injury Lawyers, P.C. right away to speak with a skilled and compassionate attorney.

Call us today at (312) 236-2900 for a free case evaluation.