What do other counties do when a JP calls a funeral home to remove a body, and the removal is not for autopsy?
Sometimes at the scene of a fatal accident, deputies can't immediately get ahold of the deceased's next of kin. In order to free them up to go back on patrol (we only have three deputies on duty at a time), a JP will call a funeral home to pick up the body. That funeral home will then bill the county. The funeral homes cite Federal Trade Commission regulations that prevent them from billing the family for this service, since the pickup occurs before the funeral home even speaks to the next of kin.
First call, as defined in Occupations Code § 651.001(5), marks the beginning of the relationship and duty of a funeral director to take charge of a body to prepare for disposition. 22 TAC § 203.2(a) clarifies that this relationship is initiated by the consumer.
When a JP orders an autopsy, article 49.10 of the Code of Criminal Procedure requires the county to pay the costs of transport. 22 TAC § 203.2(b) clarifies that transport for ID or autopsy is not first call, and is not the responsibility of the consumer.
I can't find any authority for the county to order or pay for pickup of a body that isn't for autopsy. Has anyone else come across this situation, or does anyone have any suggestions?
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