Injury: Contributing Factor vs. Cause

Traumatic injuries and their descriptions are inherent domains of the forensic pathologist. Their expertise with traumatic injuries allows them to determine whether an injury was the cause of death, or merely a contributing factor. If an injury contributes to death, then the manner of death is, by definition, not natural. Even if the injury played only a small role, then the manner of death must be classified as homicide, accident, suicide or undetermined. In making such a determination, the forensic pathologists must ask: When did the injury occur? How did the injury contribute to or cause the death? What factors caused the injury? Who is responsible for the injury?

Occasionally, injuries contributing to death happened long before the death actually occurred. Nonetheless, death resulting from a remote injury is classified as unnatural, and thorough investigation is required by the forensic pathologist to determine the cause or contribution of such an injury to the death. With the assistance and expertise of other related medical experts at The Forensic Panel, the forensic pathologist can ascertain with a high degree of confidence whether an injury in question was a contributing factor to death or the cause of death. The Forensic Panelís peer-review mechanism fosters diligence and accountability in the death investigation. Moreover, the unique evaluation protocol of peer-review requires experts of complimentary disciplines to consult with the forensic pathologist in answering complex questions about the death.