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The GBI Crime Lab decides, based on information from the Coroner's Office, which cases will be accepted for autopsy according to Georgia Statues. Most Child deaths, Homicides, Suicides and Natural deaths that meet certain criteria will require autopsies. In the event that the GBI declines an autopsy request, the family of the deceases may request a private autopsy through our office with a licensed pathologist. The cost for a private autopsy can run between $2000 to $5000 depending on the extent of the exam and any additional testing.
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A death certificate may take 1-2 weeks to be signed in an average case where the funeral home has been chosen and the Coroner will be signing. This time allows us to subpoena any necessary medical records and review them. If the deceased died due to unusual circumstances that warranted an autopsy, a death certificate may take 3-6 months to be completed. In the event that does happen, a pending death certificate can be requested through the funeral home which will allow the next of kin to handle most obligations of the deceased except life insurance. Those certificates would have to be purchased; and when a cause of death has been confirmed the certificate will be changed and the amended death certificates will also have to be purchased.
A request for death certificates should be made at the Clarke County Health Department, office of Vital Records located at 345 Harris Street, Athens, Georgia 30601. Their phone number is 706-389-6871. They will instruct you on the procedure to obtain a death certificate.
In most cases the Coroner’s report is available within seven business days and can be obtained from this office upon open records request.
Autopsy, Toxicology and Alcohol reports can take from 90-120 days to obtain.
“Pending” simply means that the cause and manner of death are still under investigation. Pending cases may be cleared in as little as two days or may remain pending for several months. The average pending case in Georgia is cleared in 6-8 weeks.
If you move or change your phone number, it is imperative you inform our office at 706-613-3999 so the next of kin can be notified FIRST when pending cases are completed.
Next of Kin is defined in the following order:
The deceased will only be released to a Licensed Funeral Director. It is important for the Next of Kin to select a Funeral Director as soon as possible and notify this office of their selection. Contact by a funeral home is not sufficient.