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Questions and answers about a private autopsy

If you believe your loved one passed away due to someone else's action or inaction -- often known as neglect -- then you may be interested in a wrongful death case. One element of such a case is determining precisely why the person passed away. The person you believe was responsible may argue that the death was already inevitable or was caused by something else, and you need to know for sure. Below are some questions and answers about autopsies.

1. How long do they take?

This varies for every case. In general, though, it should take about two to four hours.

2. What is the first step?

The first step is examining the outside of the person's body, looking for any obvious clues relating to the cause of death. If the person died in a car accident, for example, there will often be exterior examples of trauma, such as a head injury, even if internal damage -- a brain injury -- was the true cause of death.

3. Are the internal organs examined as well?

Yes. After the doctor examines the outside of the person's body, organs will be examined and sometimes removed. In some cases, only samples have to be removed so that they can be studied.

4. How soon will you know the results?

Again, this does vary a bit depending on a number of factors. However, you typically find out in 48 to 72 hours.

As you move through this process, be sure you are well aware of the legal rights that you have in Ontario, especially if the autopsy supports your theory that it was a wrongful death.

Source: Family Doctor, "Autopsy," accessed June 17, 2016

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