Frequently Asked Questions

Why is the Medical Examiner's Office involved?
The Medical Examiner is required by state law to determine the cause and circumstances of all sudden, unexpected deaths, as well as those suspected to be homicides, suicides, or accidents. All deaths related to any type of injury or intoxication must be investigated, even if the cause appears obvious. 

What is an autopsy?
An autopsy is a systematic examination of the body, performed to document injuries and diseases, as well as normal conditions of the body. The procedure is performed by a medical doctor with special training in forensic pathology. The Jackson County Medical Examiner has arranged a procedural response for the autopsy and collection of test specimens which usually does not delay the release of the body more than 48 hours. 

Do I have to pay for an autopsy?
There is no charge to the family for an autopsy required by Michigan state law. The Office of the Medical Examiner is funded as a public service. In the event that the Medical Examiner determines an autopsy is not necessary, families may request a private autopsy at their own expense arranged through a funeral director. 

Will I still be able to have an open casket service if an autopsy is performed?
Autopsies are performed in a professional manner which does not interfere with the viewing of the deceased, provided that the body was in a condition suitable for viewing prior to the autopsy

What happens to the deceased person's property?
The funeral directors transport all personal property to their facility upon completion of the examination of the body. 

Is viewing or visitation allowed while the body is under the jurisdiction of the Medical Examiner?
Viewing or visitation is not allowed while the body is being examined by the Medical Examiner's Office. The funeral director will assist family in arranging private viewing after the deceased body is released. 

Can a Medical Examiner's case still be an organ or tissue donor?
Requests for organ or tissue donation will be respected and discussed with the Gift of Life organization. The Office of the Medical Examiner works closely with the Gift of Life on all cases. 

How do I request information?
The next-of-kin may submit a written note to the Medical Examiner's Office to request a copy of the final report once it becomes available. There is a $50 fee for autopsy reports.

Death Certificates can be obtained from the Jackson County Clerk’s Office.