A death investigation is a complex process that requires a thorough understanding of the cause and manner of death. Ehline Law and our personal injury attorneys will discuss the difference between cause and manner of death and their importance in death investigations.
Cause of Death
The cause of death refers to the underlying medical condition or disease that led to the person’s death, such as a heart attack, cancer, or stroke.
A medical examiner can determine the cause of death by conducting a medical examination, which includes a review of the decedent’s medical history, an external examination, and laboratory tests.
Categories of Manner of Death
The manner of death refers to the circumstances surrounding the death, while the cause of death refers to the physiological disruption within a person that led to their death.
A medical examiner determines the manner of death based on the evidence supporting the cause of death. In many legal proceedings, the manner of death is a key focus as it can determine whether there will be criminal charges or if the insurance claims will be successful.
There are six different categories of the manner of death, which includes the following.
Natural death occurs when a person dies due to natural causes, a natural disease, or physiological derangement. For example, if a person dies due to heart disease, it will fall under “natural death,” and the death certificate will state the underlying disease or medical condition that led to the person’s death.
Accidental death occurs when a person dies due to an unintended or unexpected injury. For example, in cases where an injury occurred due to a slip or fall accident or any other accident, the death certificate will list the specific cause of the accident that led to the person’s death.
Suicide occurs as a result of a self-inflicted act committed. A person may commit suicide for various reasons, such as mental illness, depression, or emotional distress.
Suicide can happen through several means, including hanging, poisoning occurring from an overdose, or a self-inflicted gunshot wound. In such cases, the death certificate will state that the person died due to a self-inflicted injury, and there will be evidence to support that the death was a result of a conscious decision by the person.
Homicide occurs when one person’s actions lead to another’s death. Homicide can be intentional or unintentional. For example, if a person suffers a gunshot wound during an assault or dies during a robbery, the death manner would fall under “intentional homicide.”
However, if someone dies due to an unintentional injury caused by another person, it would fall under “unintentional homicide.”
The undetermined manner of death occurs when a clear preponderance of evidence supporting a specific manner is unavailable. For example, if law enforcement finds a person’s body, and there are no obvious signs of injury, and the autopsy does not reveal the cause of death, then the manner of death would fall under “undetermined.”
The pending manner of death is a classification given when the investigation into the circumstances surrounding a person’s death is ongoing, and the medical examiner or coroner has not yet determined the manner of death.
In some cases, the cause of death may be apparent, but the circumstances surrounding the death are unclear, and additional investigation is necessary before determining the manner of death.
For example, if a person dies at home with no known medical conditions, the medical examiner may need to conduct a more in-depth investigation, including interviewing witnesses, reviewing medical records, and conducting additional tests, before determining the manner of death.
A pending death may also occur when there is not enough information available to make a definitive determination about the cause and manner of death. This can happen in cases where law enforcement finds a person’s body in a remote location or in a state of decomposition, and they cannot quickly determine the cause of death through a standard autopsy.
What Is the Difference Between Death Cause and Manner of Death?
The cause of death is the medical reason that a person died, such as a disease or an injury that produced a physiological disruption within a person resulting in death. For example, the cause of death for a person who dies from a brain Hemorrhage is extreme blood loss in the brain. On the other hand, the manner of death is how the cause of death came about.
The cause and manner of death are crucial aspects of any investigation, whether it be a natural death, accidental death, or unnatural death. The medical examiner’s office is responsible for determining the cause and manner of death, analyzing the evidence, and conducting a thorough examination (external and autopsy).
Understanding the cause and manner of death can provide closure for loved ones and help determine legal outcomes, as many legal proceedings focus on these characteristics during the trial.
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If you’ve lost a loved one due to another’s negligence or international act, contact us at (833) LETS-SUE for a free consultation, as you may be able to seek compensation.