The answer is maybe.

Let me explain...

An autopsy is a clinical examination of a person who died.

It's done by a physician known as a pathologist.

The purpose of an autopsy is to determine why the person died.

Was it because of a hole in their bowel?  

Was it because of massive plaque buildup and heart disease?

Was it because of kidney failure?

There are many reasons why someone could have an untimely death.

Without an autopsy to determine the precise cause of death, doctors are often left to put a reason on the death certificate that says nothing more than their heart and lungs stopped working.

Medically, they will typically write the patient suffered cardiac and respiratory arrest.

From an investigation standpoint to determine why this person died, that information does not help us at all.

Did this person die of advanced metastatic cancer?

Did they have some underlying disease?

Was there something that was done or not done that caused or contributed to your family member's death?

The reality is that there are some instances where we can bring a wrongful death lawsuit without an autopsy. There may be other ways to establish why this person died.

On the other hand, there instances where an autopsy is not performed. That might be for religious reasons or the medical examiner does not believe there is a basis to conduct an autopsy.

In some of those cases it becomes very challenging to show that we are more likely right than wrong that your family member's untimely death was caused by someone's carelessness.

Even if you get an autopsy, that does not necessarily mean you will have sufficient evidence to move forward with a wrongful death lawsuit.

An autopsy can be a double-edged sword.

Here's what I mean...

You  might believe that your husband or spouse died because of some wrongdoing.

You decide to ask for an autopsy.

The medical examiner agrees to perform an autopsy.

The autopsy reveals that he died of unrelated issues having nothing whatsoever to do with the treatment you believe was careless.

In that instance, it will be extremely difficult if not impossible to show that his death was a result of someone else's carelessness.

On the other hand, there are instances where an autopsy clearly reveals that this person's death happened only as a result of some wrongdoing.

To learn even more, I invite you to watch the quick video below... 

Gerry Oginski
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NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer