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Is an autopsy necessary for a medical malpractice / nursing home negligence / wrongful death lawsuit?

Los Angeles, CA |

My 90-yr-old mother died 8 days ago but I'm deferring cremation for 2 or 3 more days. I can't afford to pay for autopsy. Is there a way to get it free?

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First, an autopsy is not necessary, but depending on the circumstances can be extremely helpful in proving your potential case. Still, autopsies occur in only a very small percentage of nursing home deaths because people find themselves in exactly your situation. Second, autopsies are "free" when they are done by law enforcement, but they only do them when they suspect that a crime has been committed. You should consider contacting the police and telling them your concerns just to make sure they have all the information necessary to make an informed decision. As I said, however, this is rare with nursing home deaths. More commonly, I have had clients pay for their own autopsy. It's also possible that an attorney could pay for the autopsy if the case warrants that kind of investment up front. I suggest you contact the police and an experienced nursing home lawyer as soon as possible.


If the death was as a result of a negligent act, the autopsy might have to be paid by private funds. If you think there was foul play, then the authorities must be apprised and the Coroner would perform the autopsy. Connect with a PI lawyer next to you. I am sorry for your loss and please note that not all deaths are as a result of a homicide. Best of luck.

This answer is provided by California Accident Attorney Manuel A. Juarez, Esq., 510-206-4492. Abogado de Accidentes de Autos de California: 510-206-4492. Abogado de Lesiones de Accidentes de Autos, provides answers of a general context. These answers are not intended to form an attorney client relationship. Oakland Abogado Accidentes Autos, Abogado de Lesiones Personales, Abogado de Accidentes de carros, Abogado de accidentes de Peatones, practices in Antioch, Berkeley, Concord, Oakland, Hayward, Martinez, Newark, Richmond, San Francisco and San Rafael. El abogado de lesiones y heridos en accidentes de autos, is licensed only in California. This information is good only in California and it is not to be taken as legal advice on car accidents, personal injury, divorce, bankruptcy or in any other type of situation. Esta respuesta es del Abogado de Accidentes de Autos, Abogado de Lesiones Personales, Abogado de Heridos en Accidentes de carros, Manuel A. Juárez, 510-206-4492. Abogado Hispano de Accidentes, Abogado de Divorcios, Abogado Latino de Accidentes, Abogado de Accidentes de Oakland, Hayward, San Francisco, California. Estas respuesta son solo para información general y no consisten en consejo legal sobre divorcios, mantención de esposas, mantención de hijos o bancarrotas. Las respuestas son comentarios legales que no forman una relación de abogado y cliente. Manuel Juarez, Esq., esta licenciado solo en el Estado de California.


Firstly, sorry for the loss of your mother.

There is no way to get one for free, unless the authorities want to do one for a criminal investigation into the cause of death of your mom. Sometimes, attorneys will pay for it, if the facts and circumstances of the potential case warrant it.

It proving elder abuse, it is always helpful to have an autopsy, but many times 9 out of 10 times, the family does not have an autopsy done. I suggest you contact an elder abuse attorney to see if he/she would be willing to pay for it.

Best of luck.

Ian A. Scharg, Esq.
Elder Abuse. Fraud. Class Actions
(916) 444-8240
Statewide: 877-529-6305

This is not legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. This is not legal advice, it is only legal information. You should consult an attorney if you have any questions regarding this matter.


A autopsy is done by law enforcement which is paid for by the state only when the death appears suspicious. Sometimes a hospital will perform the autopsy with the family's permission when they feel there is some issue regarding the death; otherwise the family must pay for the autopsy. Depending on the circumstances of the claim an autopsy may not necessary. You have not provided any information on what you feel was the negligence. In most of the death claims I handle, there is no autopsy. They can be very helpful and definitive in certain cases. I have been contacted by families and if I was interested in the case and if we thought an autopsy was necessary we arranged for the autopsy and paid for it. Sometimes we had a limited autopsy done. You might want to try and contact a attorney who has experience in such cases to see if he/she has any interest in paying for it.

If you feel this is the "best" answer or is "helpful," please indicate. Since I am limited to the information you provide, I cannot guarantee the accuracy of the answer. You should seek the advise of an attorney who can explore all aspects of your question. This communication does not form an attorney client relationship.


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