Why would someone request a private autopsy in Virginia? | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Each person who dies does not receive an autopsy. When a hospital or medical examiner does perform a postmortem examination, the findings may be incomplete or in need of confirmation. Ordering a private autopsy allows a person who thinks that grounds for bringing a wrongful death lawsuit exist to gather evidence to support claims for compensation and monetary damages.

Autopsies accomplish one of two things—and, often, both of those.

First, an autopsy can reveal the cause of death. At the same time, an autopsy always rules out potential causes of death. Within the context of a Virginia wrongful death lawsuit, knowing why the victim died can make all the difference. Knowing what did not kill the victim is equally important.

In medical malpractice cases, for instance, an autopsy will rule an overdose of medication in or out as the cause of death. Likewise, an autopsy following a suspected surgical error can reveal damage done by negligent use of scalpels or lasers.