Our Team Is Available 24/7. Call or Text Now

Unattended Death: Navigating Responsibilities

When an unattended death occurs, it raises several pressing questions about responsibility and the steps that must be taken to address the situation. From the perspective of a biohazard cleaning company, whose responsibility is it to handle the aftermath of an unattended death?


The Immediate Response

Law Enforcement

The initial responsibility often falls on law enforcement. When an unattended death is discovered, it is typically reported to the police. They are tasked with conducting an investigation to determine the cause of death and whether any foul play was involved. During this phase, they may secure the scene and collect evidence.

Medical Examiner or Coroner

A medical examiner or coroner may be responsible for determining the cause and manner of death. They play a crucial role in certifying the death and deciding whether an autopsy is necessary. Their findings are essential for legal and insurance purposes.


The Aftermath: Biohazard Cleanup

Once the investigative and forensic aspects are complete, the responsibility for cleaning and restoring the affected area falls to a biohazard cleaning company. Here’s why:

Specialized Training

Biohazard cleaning companies are equipped with specialized training to handle the cleanup of unattended deaths. This includes dealing with biological hazards, bloodborne pathogens, and other potentially infectious materials. Their expertise ensures safe and thorough cleanup, adhering to strict regulations and guidelines.

Emotional Toll

Cleaning up after an unattended death is emotionally challenging and distressing for families and property owners. Biohazard cleaning professionals are trained to approach these situations with empathy and discretion, understanding the sensitivity of the circumstances.

Proper Decontamination

Unattended deaths can result in biological contamination that poses health risks. Biohazard cleaning companies employ the necessary equipment, cleaning agents, and techniques to decontaminate the affected area thoroughly. This process includes removing biohazardous materials, sanitizing surfaces, and deodorizing to eliminate lingering odors.

Regulatory Compliance

Biohazard cleanup must adhere to strict regulations and guidelines, which vary by location. Biohazard cleaning companies are well-versed in these regulations and ensure compliance throughout the cleanup process. This not only ensures the safety of those involved but also helps prevent legal complications.


Family and Property Owner Responsibilities

While biohazard cleaning companies handle the physical cleanup, there are responsibilities that fall upon the family or property owner:


It’s essential to notify the appropriate authorities and agencies promptly when an unattended death occurs. This includes law enforcement and the medical examiner or coroner. Timely reporting is crucial for the proper handling of the situation.

Insurance and Financial Matters

Families or property owners should contact their insurance providers to initiate any necessary claims related to the death and subsequent cleanup. Understanding the extent of coverage and fulfilling documentation requirements is vital.

Review your homeowner’s or property insurance policy to determine if it covers the costs of biohazard cleanup. If you’re uncertain, contact your insurance provider for clarification. Some policies may cover a portion or all of the expenses related to the cleanup.

Emotional Support

Dealing with the aftermath of an unattended death can be emotionally taxing. Families should seek emotional support through counseling or support groups to cope with the grief and trauma associated with such incidents.

Professional Consultation

Before selecting a biohazard cleaning company, it can be beneficial to consult with them first. Many reputable companies offer free consultations to assess the extent of the cleanup required and provide you with a clear understanding of the process and associated costs.  Additionally, asking the biohazard cleaning company if they specialize when dealing with your home/property insurance is a vital factor.

Many biohazard companies will unlikely want to deal with your insurance carrier as it takes time and resources to properly address the claims process with insurance.  If the biohazard company is unwilling to work with your insurance carrier, they will ask you to pay their invoice out of pocket and then likely inform you to submit for reimbursement from your insurance company.  If you encounter this situation, you should really think twice before contracting that service provider for several reasons:

  1. Out of Pocket:  This process will end up costing you a lot of money out of pocket, up front.  If you work with a provider that will directly invoice your insurance carrier there will be little to no, out of pocket costs, up front.  Generally speaking, most standard home/property insurance policies will have coverages that apply to these unfortunate situations.
  2. Insurance Documentation:  Since this is not an average situation people encounter, you are unlikely aware of all the aspects that need to be captured and document for this claim process.  However, in order to receive any type of financial reimbursement from the insurance carrier you need to supply numerous forms of documentation.
  3. Industry Experience:  As you are not an expert in biohazard remediation, choosing to work with your insurance provider on your own can have severe consequences.  Clients can miss out on financial coverages that are owed to them in their policies, just by lack of awareness.  A professional biohazard remediation provider will not only ensure the cleanup services are done properly, but they will be your advocate through this unfortunate process.  Remember when you hire a professional biohazard remediation service, such as 360 Hazardous Cleanup, not only will they ensure the cleanup process is adequately performed, but they will also be there to support you emotionally by taking the burden of the insurance process off your shoulders.


Legal Considerations

In some cases, there might be legal considerations, especially if the property where the unattended death occurred is rented or leased. Landlords, property managers, or estate administrators should consult with legal counsel to ensure compliance with local laws and regulations.


Prompt action is essential in the aftermath of an unattended death. While it’s entirely normal to take some time to process the emotional impact, delaying cleanup can exacerbate the situation. The longer biological contaminants are left untreated, the more difficult and costly the cleanup process can become.

Privacy and Confidentiality

Biohazard cleaning companies prioritize privacy and confidentiality. They should adhere to strict ethical standards, ensuring that sensitive information is kept confidential. Additionally, professionals working at the scene should arrive discreetly to minimize disruptions to neighbors and the community.

Post-Cleanup Inspection

After the biohazard cleanup is complete, it’s advisable to have the area inspected to ensure that all contaminants have been properly removed and the environment is safe. Reputable cleaning companies may offer post-cleanup inspections and testing to provide peace of mind.

Emotional Recovery

Coping with the emotional aftermath of an unattended death is a challenging journey. Seek emotional support from professionals, support groups, friends, or family members. Many organizations offer resources and guidance to help individuals and families navigate the grieving process.

Preventative Measures

Consider taking preventative measures to minimize the chances of future unattended deaths. Here are some preventive measures that individuals and families can consider to minimize the likelihood of unattended deaths:

  1. Regular Check-Ins: If you have elderly family members or friends living alone, establish a routine for regular check-ins. This can be a simple phone call, text message, or in-person visit to ensure their well-being. Promptly addressing any concerns or issues can prevent unattended deaths.
  2. Emergency Alert Systems: Explore the use of emergency alert systems, especially for seniors or individuals with health conditions. These systems allow individuals to call for help in case of a medical emergency or fall, ensuring that assistance arrives quickly.
  3. Medical Monitoring Devices: For those with specific health conditions, medical monitoring devices can be invaluable. These devices can track vital signs, detect irregularities, and alert healthcare providers or family members if there’s a problem.
  4. Home Safety Assessments: Consider conducting a home safety assessment, particularly for seniors or individuals with mobility issues. Identify and address potential hazards like loose rugs, slippery surfaces, or poorly lit areas that could lead to accidents.
  5. Emergency Contacts: Maintain a list of emergency contacts in a visible and easily accessible location. Include contact information for family members, neighbors, and healthcare providers. Ensure that these contacts are aware of their roles in case of an emergency.
  6. Supportive Communities: Encourage social engagement and participation in local communities, particularly for those who live alone. Involvement in social activities can provide a sense of belonging and help prevent isolation.
  7. Advanced Care Planning: Engage in conversations about advanced care planning, especially with elderly family members. Discuss their preferences for healthcare, living arrangements, and end-of-life care. Having a plan in place can help avoid crises.
  8. Medical Alarms: Some individuals may benefit from wearing medical alarms or personal emergency response systems (PERS) that can be activated to call for help in case of an emergency. These devices are particularly useful for those at risk of falls or medical emergencies.
  9. Emergency Evacuation Plans: Develop and practice emergency evacuation plans with family members. Ensure that everyone knows how to exit the home safely in the event of a fire, natural disaster, or other emergency situation.
  10. Professional Assistance: Consider enlisting the help of healthcare professionals, home caregivers, or support services if necessary. These professionals can provide regular health assessments, medication management, and companionship to ensure safety and well-being.


In summary, when an unattended death occurs, the immediate responsibilities lie with law enforcement and medical authorities for investigation and certification. Subsequently, the responsibility for biohazard cleanup falls on specialized biohazard cleaning companies. While these professionals handle the physical aspects, families and property owners have roles to play in notification, insurance, and emotional support. By working together, these parties can navigate the challenging aftermath of an unattended death with care and thoroughness.

Before you go…

We stand by our promise to leave no family behind — Guidance and Support are values we stand behind, on-site estimates are no charge. Let us come to you!

A 24-hour (live) customer care advisor is standing by and ready to take your call.

Specialists Online Now