Jump to content
KNOWLEDGEISPOWER_9112

What are my Parental rights regarding my son's Autopsy?

Recommended Posts

My dear son was very sadly killed by a train. Following that, an Autopsy had been performed without our consent, in spite of my husband's request (to the officials) of, "NO Autopsy!"
I should mention also that my husband was not permitted to see our son on site at the Accident Scene, nor were we permitted to see his body at the County morgue. (Initially they had told us we would have to wait until the following  morning to see our son.) The next morning they tell us, "we would only be shown a photograph of your son," if we went down to the morgue. 

 

Approx. a year later in retrieving photo's of the accident site and some of the autopsy photo's (from my previous lawyer,) I have viewed my son's body as having been intact and therefore I can't understand "Why", we were NOT permitted to see our son. YET, "two" (t------) officials were present at the time of his Autopsy!

My Questions to the above Matter are:(In the state of N.J.) -
1.) Do Police officials have the right to prevent my husband from going to my son's side at the scene of the accident?
* I should include that the official on scene had told my husband, "our son had a pulse and that the EMT's were working on him."

2.) Did the Medical Examiner then have the right to fully Autopsy our son without our consent?
* Particularly including the following three facts, Initial investigation proved Accidental, our son was only 17, and my husband had requested  "NO AUTOPSY!"

In attempting to retrieve "additional" Autopsy photo's (of my son's organs,) I have been told , "I can only do so through the request of an Attorney! The Medical Examiner's fee for such photo's is $1,000.00 (100 photo's @ approx. $10.00 each!) I have been informed that although these photo's are contained on a Cd, they could not permit my request of a copy of that Cd (oppose to forwarding the photo's) to help keep the expense of such photo's to a minimum!

3.) Can you tell me what my rights are in retrieving Autopsy photo's?

In light of my many unanswered question's regarding my son's death(my son was pronounced via telemetry), what are my rights in regards to me son's tissue remains. (DNA Matrix card,  finger print, hair sample, major organ tissue sample's and body fluids.) I thus far have been able to have the above mentioned items retained for a second year, which is now coming near to the end holding date. My concerns are;

4-a.) How many years am I able to request a hold of tissues samples?

4-b.) Am I permitted to continue to make such a request without a lawsuit pending in the moment?

4-c.) Do I have any rights of moving his tissue samples to another appropriate facility if the Medical Examiner's office refuses to continue a hold onto the above items?

Please inform me of any law/statutes I should search or "where" I may be able to locate information regarding my rights as a parent in regard to the above stated matter.

5.) Can you advise me to which type of Attorney would best be able to assist me in "ALL" of the above stated issues?

*Please also view my second letter to be submitted shortly, "How do I get Answers to My Son's Death?"
I'm Hoping someone can answer at least a few of the above questions and/or perhaps guide  or direct me to where I may find or research information pertaining to the issues mentioned in this letter.
Any information at all would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you for your time.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1.  Yes.  Until all potential evidence is located and preserved, NOBODY that is not part of the criminal investigation goes near the scene or the body. 

2.  Yes.  It is the coroner's job to determine the cause of death--either suicide, accidental, homicide or undetermined are the choices in this particular case.  It's the coroner's job make that determination as best he/she can and he/she does that by autopsying the body, collecting samples and fluids and having everything analyzed.

 

As to what you can or need to do in answer to your other questions, you'll have to consult counsel.  One that handles wrongful death or PI should know how to guide and assist you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please allow me to express my condolences.

 

The reason why an autopsy is performed is so that it can be

better ascertained the contributing factors, if any to the

cause of the occurrence,  such as whether any illegal drugs

and/or alcohol might have been involved.  

 

In 1987, 2 years before I married my wife, one of her

sisters died in a vehicle-train collision.  Her sister's

BAC at the time of the occurrence was .18, and her

sister was not what people would ordinarily consider

to be an "alcoholic".    

 

Perhaps, you might consider professional counseling

if dealing with this horrible circumstance is still impacting 

your daily functioning.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thank you so very much for responding, but I feel pretty certain, that a blood test or a urine sample would have been enough to determine the use of drugs, which for my son had turned out to be negative, (according to the Autopsy reports!)  There were also was 2 other boys involved in this horrific accident, which one of the boys had survived through and has provided much information to what had happened that evening!  I don't understand the justification in them having had to Autopsy my son any further without the necessity,(All initial investigations had proved accidental.) I can see in the Autopsy photo's that they had dismembered my son's arm! (I'm Still trying to figure out "why" that  seems to bother me the most, knowing full well of the much more horrifying details that take place at a full Autopsy.

 

What I am mostly hoping someone can help me with through here, is where can I locate Information regarding the laws of my rights involving this matter. (Given my very fragile state, and the overwhelming complexity of ALL the issues involving my son's death, I have been able to research many of the issues.) However, I have not been able to locate much information in regard to the above stated Autopsy Issue's.  Please assist me with any knowledge you may have in "where" I myself might be able to research this type of information.

 

I would like to mention, I had also lost my husband 9 months following my son's death, last year I had lost my home of 15 yrs. (All of which has crushed me further.) All the amazing compassion and support we(myself, husband and daughter) had initially received has withered down to practically mostly avoidance by both close friends and family members, (which in itself has been further shocking and extremely hurtful.) I battle with forgiveness and understanding of their justification or non-justification on a daily basis.

 

I am completely alone in my efforts to find all my questions that have been left unanswered, (Which I believe is part of the reason why I've been struggling so greatly.)  I am only now slowly becoming "somewhat" productive.  Between my financial status (0) and my medical issues I have not been able receive much council as of this date.

 

Once again I'm hoping to find exactly "where" I myself, might be able to search/find the laws, of my what rights are pertaining to the above stated Autopsy matter/questions.

 

Thank you Again,

(KNOWLEDGE IS POWER)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

1.  Yes.  Until all potential evidence is located and preserved, NOBODY that is not part of the criminal investigation goes near the scene or the body. 

2.  Yes.  It is the coroner's job to determine the cause of death--either suicide, accidental, homicide or undetermined are the choices in this particular case.  It's the coroner's job make that determination as best he/she can and he/she does that by autopsying the body, collecting samples and fluids and having everything analyzed.

 

As to what you can or need to do in answer to your other questions, you'll have to consult counsel.  One that handles wrongful death or PI should know how to guide and assist you.

Thank you for your help,  can you please clarify " PI "

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Please allow me to express my condolences.

 

The reason why an autopsy is performed is so that it can be

better ascertained the contributing factors, if any to the

cause of the occurrence,  such as whether any illegal drugs

and/or alcohol might have been involved.  

 

In 1987, 2 years before I married my wife, one of her

sisters died in a vehicle-train collision.  Her sister's

BAC at the time of the occurrence was .18, and her

sister was not what people would ordinarily consider

to be an "alcoholic".    

 

Perhaps, you might consider professional counseling

if dealing with this horrible circumstance is still impacting 

your daily functioning.

thank you for your condolences,

I am completely alone in my efforts to find all my questions that have been left unanswered, (Which I believe is part of the reason why I've been struggling so greatly.) I will be taking your suggestion

 

Please allow me to express my condolences.

 

The reason why an autopsy is performed is so that it can be

better ascertained the contributing factors, if any to the

cause of the occurrence,  such as whether any illegal drugs

and/or alcohol might have been involved.  

 

In 1987, 2 years before I married my wife, one of her

sisters died in a vehicle-train collision.  Her sister's

BAC at the time of the occurrence was .18, and her

sister was not what people would ordinarily consider

to be an "alcoholic".    

 

Perhaps, you might consider professional counseling

if dealing with this horrible circumstance is still impacting 

your daily functioning.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

can you please clarify " PI "

 

"PI" = personal injury.

 

A couple questions if you don't mind:

 

Why do you want photos of your son's dead body and internal organs and whatever other photos were taken at the autopsy?

 

Why do you want tissue remains and bodily fluids (to the extent anything like that hasn't been disposed of)?  I'd be awfully surprised if they would release any of this to anyone other than a medical facility.  There are laws regarding the disposition and possession of bodily remains and human organs, etc. that probably would not allow this.

 

How long ago did the death occur?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

thank you for your condolences,

I am completely alone in my efforts to find all my questions that have been left unanswered, (Which I believe is part of the reason why I've been struggling so greatly.) I will be taking your suggestion

All the amazing compassion and support we(myself, husband and daughter) had initially received has withered down to practically mostly avoidance by both close friends and family members, (which in itself has been further shocking and extremely hurtful.) I battle with forgiveness and understanding of their justification or non-justification on a daily basis. I will be taking your advice in seeking counseling. Thank you for your help. Sorry to hear about your sister in-law.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I cannot fathom that the prior lawyer you mention (and others) refused to explain the answers to your basic questions; thus, one must consider it possible that you won't accept what you've been told.

 

There is surely a reason that you haven't researched via google or another search engine the topic of "New Jersey autopsy law", or visited a local law library in person and sought help from the librarians. 

 

http://www.me.nj.gov/pdfs/mebrochure.pdf

 

http://www.me.nj.gov/faq.html

 

http://lis.njleg.state.nj.us/cgi-bin/om_isapi.dll?clientID=24693954&depth=2&expandheadings=off&headingswithhits=on&infobase=statutes.nfo&softpage=TOC_Frame_Pg42

 

I hope you will consider the possibility that you've been distracting yourself with all this as a way to avoid processing the grief to a tolerable level (it never goes away).  Humans are a complex animal, and there are reasons why people won't let go of a situation that cannot be undone, and feel it necessary to dwell in grief and anger when it's misperceived as all you have left.  I'm also confident that your son would not want you to dwell in this place.

 

I'm also concerned that there exists a fixation even on the topic of not seeing your son at the accident site, or before his body was turned over to a mortuary after the autopsy.  Surely you would not be prevented from seeing him then, and yet you mention only autopsy photos.  I don't say this to hurt your feelings; I say it because it's worthy of reflection.

 

"I would like to mention, I had also lost my husband 9 months following my son's death, last year I had lost my home of 15 yrs. (All of which has crushed me further.)"

This fails to answer when your son died.  The level of non-legal topics in your post indicates that you might benefit from talking with a (possibly different) therapist, or a different grief support group (those have drawbacks all their own, because people often use them to perpetuate the grief and frustration).  As for why people have in your view or actually pulled away, human nature being what it is -- we are animals, after all -- death, illness and disability are subjects most people are ill-equipped to deal with. 

 

Objectively, you've embarked on what most people would identify as a strange crusade.  People likely feel helpless and don't know what to do.  To be sure, someone could absolutely insist on doing X-Y-Z, including making and sheparding you through therapeutic appointments.  If objective, you can see how in your situation they may have even more complex feelings, and did their best even if they couldn't maintain that max level of effort for ... how long?  (Again, you don't say.)  How much is enough?  From their perspective, they may have simply felt forced to choose against dwelling any longer with you in grief and fixation.  It is unlikely that they suddenly became people of bad character, or lazy.  If they are of bad character, then you shouldn't waste time worrying about why they did what they did, let alone forgiving them. 

"I don't understand the justification in them having had to Autopsy my son any further without the necessity..."

Please accept that there was indeed a necessity, and that would be true even if the law didn't require an autopsy.  The ME can't know from some surviving boy's account that, for instance, your son wasn't struck on the head by someone or an object ... or that he didn't suffer a stroke and lose his balance, fall into the path of an oncoming train to which he was already (evidently) far too close.  How does one eliminate these possibilities in this situation without an autopsy?  Even were you to in fact die in your sleep at home, there would almost certainly be an autopsy.

 

An autopsy is done even if you "know" (rather, more accurately, believe with all your heart) from other information that the death was caused by accident or teenagers messing about and meeting with misadventure.  (Granted, you don't share the circumstances, but there are few scenarios by which people cannot avoid being hit by a train.) 

 

"I can see in the Autopsy photo's that they had dismembered my son's arm!"

Have you talked with the medical examiner and also submitted a FOIA request for the autopsy report?  (That may be in an earlier post.)  At any rate, I suspect no answer will satisfy, so I'm not sure what good comes from fixating on this.

 

If you'd said from the start that "I think the kid with him or someone else pushed him, and there's a cover-up," that would better explain what's happening with you.  Otherwise, I submit that you may be torturing yourself for reasons that need to be identified and addressed, and need to take care of yourself. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"PI" = personal injury.

 

A couple questions if you don't mind:

 

Why do you want photos of your son's dead body and internal organs and whatever other photos were taken at the autopsy?

 

Why do you want tissue remains and bodily fluids (to the extent anything like that hasn't been disposed of)?  I'd be awfully surprised if they would release any of this to anyone other than a medical facility.  There are laws regarding the disposition and possession of bodily remains and human organs, etc. that probably would not allow this.

 

How long ago did the death occur?

My son's death had occurred in 2011, To this day I have not received any answers to my many questions surrounding my son's death.(Long story short my previous lawyer would not address my son's medical attention issue.)

 

In contacting another attorney in regard to the medical aspect, He tells me that,"in General Police official's and the EMT's are not held accountable in Emergency situations!"

 

However, in my attempts to speak with the EMT's who were actually at site, to retrieve answers to what had taken place with my son, (who had also been declared dead via telemetry!)  I am then told " the EMT's were not permitted to speak with me as anything they say could hold them accountable! 

 

Since I have not been able to retrieve any answers, I have contacted professionals who may be able to assist me with some of my questions, regarding help with what my son's last moments were like, They tell me only if I have "all" of the autopsy photo's, will they be able to assist me with that answer.

 

Please note upon speaking with the medical examiner who had Autopsied my son, his response to my question of what my son's last moments were like, he had replied, " That my son had died on impact!" Which apparently was just not true! It was noted on one of the reports that my son had a pulse thirty minutes later.

 

Once again in viewing some of the photo's I had received and in having reviewed/researched the Autopsy Report(to the best of my ability) in regard to his head trauma. It is my understanding that my son may very well have been able to survive, had he the opportunity to receive medical attention. 

I was unable to assist myself further through my own research in reference to his organs, which is why I had inquired further, seeking professional assistance in that matter. I had also been told that any remaining tissue samples,etc., may also have the potential to help them to answer some of my questions. 

 

I really need to have some answers regarding my son's death, as his mother, I think I should at least have that right!

 

Once again, I'm hoping someone can direct me to "where" I myself can locate/research what my rights are in regard to this matter.

 

Thank you

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The statute of limitations to bring an action related to a death, i.e. wrongful death, in NJ is 2 years from the date the minor decedent turned 18.  Your son passed 3 years ago.  The only way to get things released from a coroner's office is by a court order and absent pending litigation, no court is going to issue such an order for testing or retesting of tissue samples.  You can try to privately retain a forensic pathologist and see if the coroner will agree to let them test samples but 1) it would be very expensive to hire that pathologist and 2) there's no guarantee the county coroner would agree to anything without being ordered to do so even if you did hire a private pathologist.  I know you are in horrible emotional pain over the losses you've suffered but focusing on how your son died rather than how he lived at this point in time isn't healthy.  You would be far better served to seek out a grief counselor than to continue to obsess over this.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Have you talked with the medical examiner and also submitted a FOIA request for the autopsy report?

 

The acronym FOIA is generally used to refer to the federal Freedom of Information Act. That act only allows the public access to information held by federal government agencies. State and local agencies, like the medical examiner/coroner, are not subject to the requirements of FOIA. Note that FOIA has a number of restrictions on what records the public may obtain. In general, records about individuals held by federal agencies cannot be disclosed under FOIA. If you want information about yourself from a federal agency, then the proper request is under the federal Privacy Act of 1974, not FOIA. The Privacy Act also only applies to federal agencies.

 

Most states have their own laws that allow access to state and local government agency records. In New Jersey, that is the Open Public Records Act (OPRA). Note, however, that under that Act the records of the medical examiner, including the photographs, negatives, prints, videotapes taken at the scene of death or in the course of post mortem examination or autopsy cannot be obtained under the OPRA. N.J.S.A. 47:1A-1.1.  One must have an appropriate court order to obtain that material. 

 

In short, pursuing any kind of open records request for the autopsy materials won’t work. You’d need a court order to get it if the medical examiner is unwilling to provide it otherwise. As the medical examiner is apparently willing to provide you the material if you pay the fee, I don't see a court order necessarily helping you here. You may end up paying more to litigate getting those records than the $1,000 the medical examiner wants for those records.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...

×
×
  • Create New...