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Why an autopsy is important in wrongful death cases

Having an autopsy report is vitally important to your wrongful death case. The decision to consent to or request an autopsy comes when a family is grief-stricken and emotional. It could be at odds with the next of kin’s, or even the decedent’s, moral or religious beliefs. But having an autopsy can be the best evidence that negligence caused a loved one’s death and prevent future defendants from offering speculative explanations for why a loved one passed away.

What is an autopsy? An autopsy is a detailed, surgical examination performed by a pathologist. It consists of a thorough examination of the entire body including tissues, organs, and the external body. The pathologist used this examination to determine the exact cause of death and explain the pathologies that led to the death. This level of detail performed by a pathologist makes an autopsy much more definitive than a death certificate. In fact, a coroner’s determination of the cause of death can create a legal presumption as to the cause of death.

A wrongful death lawsuit involves deciding whether a death could have been prevented and, if so, whether the negligence of a medical provider caused that death. Proving cause of death is nearly impossible without an autopsy. It provides crucial evidence in a wrongful death case because it helps prove with certainty that a medical provider’s mistake led to the death. Without it, negligent doctors and other medical providers can suggest any number of possibilities for a death occurring. Being armed with an autopsy report prevents that guessing game and provides the certainty needed to prove a medical mistake caused a loved one’s death.

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