When Autopsies are Required Under GA Law

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Attorney Brittany Partridge is here to talk about autopsies and when they’re required under Georgia law.

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► Hi, my name is Brittney Partridge, and I’m an attorney at the Butler Law Firm today. I’m going to be talking to you about autopsies and when they’re required under Georgia law. Now there are 11 reasons why an autopsy must be required under Georgia law and it’s laid out in the statute. And that statute is OCGA 451624. Now the statute has been updated as of July 1st, 2022, where there are two very specific portions, including a brand new reason why autopsies must be required go into law.
► Now first under the statute, if somebody dies as a result of violence, from a gunshot wound, a fight, a stabbing, we’re going to do an autopsy. Second, if somebody dies by suicide or from casualty. Most of us know what a suicide is, but a casualty is an accident, but not the typical type that we think of. It’s often ones that are unforeseen, as in shipwreck, a lightning strike, a fire. We’re going to conduct autopsies if somebody’s death is related to those rare instances.
► Number three, if somebody’s death is sudden and they are in apparent good health. That’s oftentimes when I get asked as an attorney, “Isn’t autopsy going to be performed?” And the answer is yes. If you have a loved one who is very healthy and young and their death is sudden and you don’t have an explanation for it, we’re going to do an autopsy under Georgia law. Number four, if there’s a suspicious or unusual death. Just because somebody is elderly or has an illness or sickness, if their death seems suspicious or unusual, Georgia law is going to require that an autopsy be performed.
► Number five, if the child is under the age of seven and their death is unexplained, meaning that there are no terminal illnesses or other cause, such as car wreck or something of that regard, we’re going to conduct an autopsy. Number six is if a person is killed or dies as a result of the death penalty. So whether that person is killed by lethal injection or other ways in that somebody can be killed under the death penalty laws of Georgia, we are going to conduct an autopsy.
► Number seven is going to be if somebody’s an inmate in a state prison, a county jail, or a city jail. If that person dies while they’re an inmate, while they’re incarcerated, we are going to conduct an autopsy to see what’s going on. Number eight, if somebody enters the hospital and they’re unconscious, meaning that they are brought in by a family member, or a friend, or an ambulance after a good Samaritan calls and they do not regain consciousness for 24 hours, our laws are going to require that an autopsy be performed.
► Number nine is of an apparent drug overdose. Now this can be from somebody’s surroundings or from somebody’s habits. If there’s belief that somebody died of a drug of overdose, our laws are going to require that an autopsy be done. Now number 10 is where the new law or new piece of law is going to come into effect. So unfortunately, Georgia has a high mortality rate for pregnant women. And because of this, we have enacted a law to perform autopsies when a pregnant woman dies, or if a woman dies within 365 days of giving birth. Now, there is an exception to this new piece of legislation and that is that there will not be an autopsy if the person’s cause of death is apparent, or it is very clear that it’s not related to being pregnant or giving birth.

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