Is an Autopsy Necessary When Filing a Wrongful Death Claim?

It is not uncommon for those who lose loved ones in fatal accidents to immediately be faced with difficult questions about their relative’s remains. Many, for instance, express concerns about whether an autopsy is necessary to file a wrongful death claim. Technically, autopsies are not legally required to file a wrongful death case. They are, however, almost always critical to proving fault, so if you lost a loved one in an accident and have questions about how to demonstrate fault for his or her death, you should reach out to a Florida wrongful death lawyer for help. 

What is an Autopsy?

Autopsies are medical examinations conducted by forensic pathologists, who are tasked with examining a person’s remains, both internally and externally, to determine the cause of death. Autopsies typically include various forms of testing along with microscopic evaluation of tissues and organs, all of which can be used to prove what caused someone to pass away. Once an autopsy has been completed, the pathologist will prepare a formal report, which will contain a conclusion regarding the cause of death, a medical opinion, a summary of the findings, and the results of laboratory tests. Generally, the findings from an autopsy are considered more definitive than death certificates. 

Objecting to an Autopsy

Deciding to have an autopsy performed on a loved one can be an emotional decision and many object on moral or religious grounds. While these objections are completely understandable, it is important for those who find themselves in this position, but who also believe that their loved one’s death was preventable, to understand that the information obtained in this kind of in-depth examination is crucial to the outcome of a wrongful death case. This is due to the fact that the success or failure of a wrongful death claim will largely depend on the strength of the evidence linking a person’s death to the actions or inactions of another party. Without an autopsy, it could prove impossible to demonstrate causation and fault. 

Requesting a Private Examination

Under Florida law, coroners are required to make a cause of death determination in certain kinds of cases, including when a person’s death is the result of an accident or criminal violence, or occurred in police custody or in any suspicious circumstances. Fortunately, even when coroners are not legally required to conduct an autopsy, the loved ones of the deceased can submit a written request to the coroner, requesting an examination, or arrange for a private autopsy. 

Set Up a Free Consultation Today

While having an autopsy performed is not required to file a wrongful death case in Florida, the reality is that it is often the best or only way to prove fault. For help determining what would be in your own family’s legal interests, please reach out to the dedicated Florida wrongful death attorneys at Dolan Dobrinsky Rosenblum, LLP today. You can reach a member of our legal team by calling our office at 305-371-2692 or by sending us an online message. We make ourselves available to our clients 24 hours a day, so don’t hesitate to contact us for help with your wrongful death-related questions and concerns.