Are autopsy reports public record?

Short Answer: Yes

Fuller Answer…

As a private investigator you may never need to get or review an autopsy report, but, over the years it has come up for me and heres why…

Accident Litigation / Accident Investigations

If someone has died in a case you’re working on, you may need too get an autopsy report, but a lot of times you don’t because you are usually a “supplemental” investigator on the case.

I don’t want you to think your role is not important! In fact, it’s a term I just made-up to describe your role when a large law firm or insurance company has hired you to work any kind of accident investigation, but where they have doctor’s, lawyers and specialist “in-house” who do these investigations regularly. In those cases, they probably have someone who gets the autopsy report as a part of their standard operating procedures.

For Family Members

This is actually a little more common in my experience.

A family comes to you after the death of a loved on who was in someone else care. This may be a nursing home or a home for the care of the mentally handicapped.

The family is concerned because they know someone else died there earlier in the year of last year. The family wants to make sure the deaths aren’t related by negligence, bad care or maliciousness.

In a case like that, you’ll pull the autopsy reports for both parties and compare them looking for a common link or problem.

How to get an autopsy report…

You get an autopsy report the same as any other public record… you make a public records request.

Autopsies that may not (yet) be public record include ones involved in an active police or prosecutor’s investigation. But, in my experience, eventually, all autopsy reports become public record.

Bonus Tip: You can request autopsy reports specifying that you do not want any photos or videos if you don’t need that information.

Where do I request and autopsy record from?

Autopsy reports are usually held at the county level with the Coroner’s Office. They are your first stop requesting these reports.

You may find an autopsy report in other records you uncover like police files or prosecutor files and even in some lawsuits!

If you like this helpful tip, then don’t miss out on my free special report If You Want To Be a Private Investigator Give Up… Unless You Do These Three Things. If not, you can get it right here…

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Committed to your success,
Larry Kaye, P.I.

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