How Autopsies Work & Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in New York

When someone dies in New York under unclear circumstances, the death is investigated. One of the most commonly used investigative processes is an autopsy. The point of an autopsy is to discover the cause of death for the deceased. This can be instrumental in some wrongful death cases when the family wishes to hold a party liable. Read on to learn how autopsies work.

Forensic vs. Clinical Autopsy 

There are two main types of autopsies – forensic and clinical. A forensic autopsy is usually used as part of a police investigation and puts a lot of attention on the external part of a deceased body, as well as the internal parts. A clinical autopsy, on the other hand, is usually performed by an attending physician or a pathologist within a hospital and is not part of a criminal investigation.

Five Manners of Death 

All autopsies seek to discover the cause of death for the victim. There are only five manners of death that an autopsy of a body may reveal. The five manners are listed below. 

  • Natural
  • Accident
  • Homicide
  • Suicide
  • Undetermined

A coroner is different than a medical examiner. While the medical examiner is typically the one to perform the autopsy and determine the manner of death, the coroner is the person responsible for pronouncing the victim as dead. Usually, the coroner also notifies the next of kin and signs the death certificate. According to New York law section 671, in the counties where the coroner’s office has been abolished, the medical examiner shall perform related duties.

Autopsy Process – Internal and External Examinations 

During an autopsy, all external factors will be noted. The person performing the autopsy should make note of the sex, race, approximate age, hair and eye color, and identifying features of the body. The external examination will reveal any signs of external trauma.

The internal examination involves making an incision in the body so that the organs are exposed. Each organ may be pulled out and further investigated if necessary. The internal investigation can be essential to identifying cause of death, especially in the case that external trauma to the body is not obvious.

Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney in New York 

If you’ve lost a loved one due to uncertain circumstances, then an autopsy may be essential to discovering the cause of death. If you believe that the loss of your family member was caused by the irresponsible actions of someone else, then the attorneys at Gacovino, Lake, & Associates, P.C., can help you file a wrongful death suit for damages. A wrongful death suit can yield compensation for pain and suffering, lost household services, and more. If you have questions about how to take legal action following the death of a family member, call us today at 800-550-0000.

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