Are Autopsies Required for a Wrongful Death Claim?

Legally reviewed by:
Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C.
March 19, 2024
pathologist examining a microscope slide

When facing the tragedy of a wrongful death, you may wonder about the necessity of an autopsy. Understanding this aspect is crucial in these sensitive cases. An autopsy, a thorough examination of a deceased individual, seeks to determine the cause of death. While the thought of an autopsy may be discomforting, it can be a pivotal factor in wrongful death claims.

Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, P.C. (RGSG), with our extensive experience in wrongful death claims, recognizes the complexities and sensitivities of these cases. Our approach is to provide compassionate yet comprehensive legal assistance, ensuring that necessary steps, such as autopsies, are handled with utmost respect and professionalism.

Understanding the Role of Autopsies in Wrongful Death Claims

Autopsies play a significant role in wrongful death claims. They provide crucial information about the cause and manner of death, which can be vital in establishing negligence or fault. In some cases, an autopsy can reveal previously unknown medical conditions or external factors that contributed to the death, which might not have been apparent otherwise.

The findings from an autopsy can strengthen a wrongful death claim by providing concrete evidence. This evidence can link the cause of death to the alleged negligence, which is a critical element in these cases. It is also important to note that autopsies can sometimes rule out wrongful death, leading to a more accurate understanding of the circumstances surrounding the demise.

Legal Implications of Autopsy Reports

Autopsy reports can be a double-edged sword in wrongful death claims. On one hand, they can provide compelling evidence to support the claim. On the other hand, if the autopsy reveals information that contradicts the claim, it can weaken the case. Therefore, it is crucial to consider the potential outcomes of an autopsy before proceeding.

In some situations, the opposing party may contest their responsibility for causing the death of your loved one.  This is typically the case when the cause of death is unclear or disputed. The autopsy report becomes a key piece of evidence in these situations, often dictating the overall strength and/or value of the case.

However, it is important to know that an autopsy is not always mandatory for a wrongful death claim. The necessity depends on the specific circumstances of each case, including the available evidence and the cause of death.

Evaluating the Need for an Autopsy in Your Case

Deciding whether to request an autopsy can be challenging. It involves weighing the potential benefits against the emotional and ethical considerations. In cases where the cause of death is clear and uncontested, an autopsy may not be necessary. However, in more complex cases, especially where the cause of death is uncertain or disputed, an autopsy can provide clarity and crucial evidence.

It is also important to consider the potential emotional impact on the family. An autopsy can be a distressing process, and families must weigh this against the potential legal benefits. Legal counsel can provide guidance in making this decision, considering both the legal implications and the family’s emotional well-being.

In summary, while autopsies can be a valuable tool in wrongful death claims, they are not universally required. Each case must be evaluated on its own merits, considering the available evidence, legal requirements, and the family’s wishes.

Why Choose RGSG for Your Wrongful Death Claim?

At Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford, P.C., we understand the delicate nature of wrongful death claims. Our talented team of attorneys is committed to providing personalized and empathetic legal representation. We recognize the importance of every detail in these cases, including the decision to pursue an autopsy. Our approach combines a deep understanding of the legal intricacies with a commitment to our clients’ emotional well-being. We guide you through every step, ensuring you make informed decisions about aspects like autopsies. 

Our goal is to help you find closure and justice while handling the legal complexities with expertise and sensitivity. If you are grappling with a wrongful death claim and unsure about the need for an autopsy, let RGSG assist you. Contact us at (215) 822-7575 or complete our contact form. We are here to provide the support and legal guidance you need during this challenging time.

Legally reviewed by:
Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C.
Pennsylvania Attorney's
March 19, 2024
Established in 1952 by Irwin S. Rubin, Rubin, Glickman, Steinberg & Gifford P.C. boasts over 65 years of experience serving clients throughout Pennsylvania. Renowned for its commitment to ethical representation, the firm has garnered prestigious accolades, including being named the "Best Law Firm" for its outstanding legal defense work by U.S. News & World Report. Their team of seasoned attorneys, recognized as Pennsylvania Super Lawyers and Rising Stars, brings unparalleled expertise to a wide range of legal matters, ensuring exceptional representation for individuals, families, businesses, and organizations.