The Importance of an Autopsy in Wrongful Death Claims

In an autopsy, a trained forensic pathologist conducts a detailed medical examination of a decedent’s body to not only determine the cause of death, but to identify diseases, medical conditions and injuries, as well as test blood and conduct a variety of other diagnostic tests. Autopsies can be performed by a county coroner’s office, but a family can also request a private autopsy.  While the ultimate purpose of an autopsy is to determine the cause of death, it is also useful to determine factors that contributed to a death and other evidence that might be necessary in a wrongful death lawsuit.  

While autopsies are not legally required in Illinois to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit, many deaths occur long after a traumatic event or as a result of medical treatment received months or years earlier.  Some deaths occur immediately but under abnormal circumstances – such as when a motorist suffers a heart attack caused by the surprise and stress of being a victim of a car accident.  An autopsy can be used to prove that a person’s death was caused by injuries or conditions stemming from a particular negligent event, such as a car accident, fall, workplace injury or improper medical care.  In addition, autopsies can be used to show that such negligent events, and the injuries and conditions caused by the event, contributed to the ultimate condition that caused a death.  

Ultimately, without an autopsy, it could be difficult to prove that a negligent event caused or contributed to the death of an injury victim.  However, an autopsy can also be used to show that a decedent was otherwise healthy, if not for the injuries caused by an accident – or that even if the decedent had other conditions, those conditions would not have materially impacted his or her life expectancy.  

The death of a loved one is not only heartbreaking, but extremely stressful for those left behind.  However, a victim’s family does need to act quickly to ensure an autopsy is timely performed.  The attorneys at Feagans Law Group P.C. are experienced in investigating wrongful death claims and have the resources necessary to ensure an autopsy is performed in a timely manner, which can help ensure our clients have all the evidence needed to protect their rights and maximize their ability to recover for the wrongdoing of others.  If your loved one has tragically passed away as a result of the negligence of others, please call Feagans Law Group and allow us to Guide Your Path to Justice.