When a loved one passes and the family suspects that the death was caused by someone’s carelessness, they generally have a lot on their minds. Beyond dealing with their grief and planning funeral services, they are also wondering what happened and whether they have a legal claim. To these ends, the family may consider having an autopsy performed. This article endeavors to provide you with basic information regarding autopsies and how to request one.
Doesn’t the Coroner or Medical Examiner have to Perform an Autopsy?
Not necessarily. In most states, laws and regulations specify when the coroner or medical examiner must perform an autopsy. For example, in Kentucky and Ohio, statutes set forth what deaths are to be investigated. In performing the investigation, the coroner may order an autopsy, but in most cases they are not required to do so. Accordingly, whether an autopsy is ordered is largely within the coroner’s discretion.
What does this mean for the family of the deceased? It means that if the death does not meet the criteria set out by statute, it will not be investigated and an autopsy will not be performed. It also means that the coroner may deny a family’s request to have an autopsy performed.
Asking for an Autopsy
If your loved one passes, you can ask the coroner to investigate the death and to have an autopsy performed. But what do you do if the coroner refuses? If your loved one died in a hospital, you can ask whether that hospital performs autopsies and, if so, if they would agree to perform one. Not many hospitals still perform autopsies, however. The good news is there is another option: a private autopsy.
A private autopsy is an autopsy that is performed by a physician not employed with the coroner’s and/or medical examiner’s office. The downside to a private autopsy is that, unlike an autopsy performed by a coroner or medical examiner, the family usually has to pay for the autopsy. Unfortunately, private autopsies may be costly. Insurance and attorneys will not cover that cost.
How do I request a private autopsy?
In order to request a private autopsy, you need to find a doctor that performs them. Generally, the best way to find a private autopsy provider is by searching the internet. To find local providers, try using the name of your town or city with “private autopsy” as your search terms.
Teaching hospitals and medical schools are more likely to provide private autopsy services than non-teaching hospitals. There are also businesses that perform private autopsies. As with any medical provider, be sure to check the provider’s credentials and background prior to engaging him or her.
Once a person dies, their body begins to change chemically, which can effect certain tests performed during an autopsy. For this reason, it is important that if you are going to seek an autopsy, you have it done sooner rather than later. Also, some private autopsy providers will not perform an autopsy if the body has been embalmed.
Other Important Considerations
If an autopsy reveals or you suspect that your loved one died due to the negligence of another, you will need to speak with a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. State law places strict limits on the time loved ones have to pursue a wrongful death claim. If a claim is not filed in time, they may never receive the compensation they deserve for their loss.
If you would like to speak with a wrongful death attorney, contact the experienced attorneys at Burg Simpson today. To reach them, you can click here and fill out a free case evaluation form or call 513-852-5600. Burg Simpson’s nationally recognized attorneys have stood up for their clients’ rights for more than 40 years. They have the experience, resources, and reputation needed to get their clients the money they deserve through settlement or trial. They are ready to fight for you and your family.