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Is an Autopsy Required in a Wrongful Death Claim?


When you are trying to recover from the shock of having lost a loved one in an accident that was caused by another person’s negligence, it can be overwhelming to learn that you may need to get an autopsy performed to provide evidence in the wrongful death lawsuit. But is an autopsy required to file a wrongful death claim?

What is an autopsy?

Pathologists are the medical professionals who perform autopsies. The post-mortem examination of the body is conducted to determine the cause of death of the decedent. If the cause of death is not clear, or if evidence of the precise cause of death is needed, an autopsy can reveal those facts. The pathologist conducts a thorough examination of the body including any required medical tests and the microscopic examination of the tissues and cells to see what they reveal about the cause and manner of death.

The use of autopsy records in a wrongful death action

In order to prevail in a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff must prove a direct line of causation between the decedent’s death and the actions or failure to act of the defendant. The evidence gathered in an autopsy provide the proof of the cause of death.

For example, in a case where a loved one was killed in a serious car or truck accident, an autopsy might not be as critical to proving the cause of death as one might be in a medical malpractice case, where pinpointing what caused the death and how the negligent party hastened the death or could have prevented it.

While an autopsy in most cases may not be required by law, it can often prove helpful in answering the outstanding questions about how the defendant’s negligence caused the death or failed to prevent it depending on the circumstances.

When you lose a loved one in an accident that was the result of another person’s negligent actions, you may be wondering if it is worth it to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The best way to know if a wrongful death lawsuit makes sense in your case is to speak to an experienced attorney who will review your case and advise you of your legal options. If you prevail in the lawsuit, you may recover final medical expenses, lost wages pain and suffering and funeral expenses. Other damages available to the spouse of the deceased or a child losing a parent is loss of consortium, which is compensation for the loss of the person’s presence in their lives.

If you have suffered the wrongful death of a loved one due to the negligent actions of another person, you need an experienced Oklahoma wrongful death attorney to file a lawsuit to recover compensation on your behalf. The compassionate legal team at Stipe Law Firm is ready to evaluate your case and advise you on legal strategy. You are encouraged to call (918) 505-7741 or fill out our contact form today for a free case evaluation in our McAlester office. We serve families throughout the state of Oklahoma.