Losing a loved one is always extremely difficult. But when you know or believe that your loved one’s death resulted from another’s negligence, it only adds frustration to your grief. However, through a wrongful death case, you and your family might be able to recover meaningful compensation that—although it won’t make up for your loss—could ease the financial burden of moving on after such a tragedy. However, to do so, you will eventually need to obtain your loved one’s death certificate.
What Information Is Contained in a Death Certificate?
A death certificate is a legal document that is verified by the coroner, outlining certain information about the deceased person (decedent). Some death certificates contain more information than others, depending on what is known about the deceased. But most death certificates contain the following information:
- Date and time of death,
- Location of death,
- Cause of death, and
- Personal information about the deceased.
A death certificate is crucial evidence in a wrongful death case. Under California Health & Safety Code § 103550, any fact contained in a death certificate can be used in court to establish a fact’s existence.
Where to Obtain a Death Certificate Copy
To obtain a copy of a death certificate in California, you must contact the Vital Records division of the California Department of Public Health. You can complete a request electronically, through the mail, or in person. However, if you elect to obtain a copy in person, you must visit the Office of Vital Records in the county where the person died. You can also request a copy through the funeral home or mortuary. If you choose to order a copy of a death certificate through a funeral or mortuary, you should expect to pay for this service (in addition to the state-imposed fee).
Who Can Get a Copy of a Death Certificate in California?
California law provides that only certain people can obtain a copy of a death certificate. Those individuals include the following people:
- The registrant, who is the person listed on the death certificate;
- The legal guardian of the decedent;
- A member of law enforcement who is conducting official business;
- An attorney who represents the registrant or their estate;
- A person with power of attorney over the decedent; and
- A funeral home employee who is acting within the scope of their employment.
If the law allows you to request a copy, you should include certain information to expedite your request.
- The date you made the request,
- The full name of the decedent,
- The sex of the decedent,
- The date of death,
- Your relationship to the decedent,
- Why you need a copy of the death certificate, and
- Your full name, address, driver’s license number, and signature.
You must pay a non-refundable fee to obtain a copy of a death certificate, even if the certificate is not found based on the information you provided. So, make sure that you provide as much information as possible and that everything is accurate. While wait times may vary, some people report that it can take as long as 20 weeks for the Office of Vital Statistics to fulfill their request.
Learn More About How to get a Copy of a Death Certificate
Getting a death certificate in California is certainly possible to do on your own. However, following the tragic death of a loved one, it is completely normal to be overwhelmed with the process. At Silva Injury Law, our California wrongful death lawyers regularly obtain death certificates on behalf of our clients who intend to file wrongful death cases. If you suspect that someone’s negligence was responsible for your loved one’s death, you might want to look into the possibility of filing a wrongful death claim. Wrongful death cases can connect grieving families with meaningful compensation that can help them overcome the financial burdens associated with their losses. Silva Injury Law takes a compassionate and comprehensive approach to every case we handle, ensuring that our client’s wishes come first. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation with a compassionate personal injury lawyer, contact us online or call us today. If you hire us, we will not bill you for our services unless we win money on your behalf.
FIND OUT HOW WE CAN HELP
At Silva Injury Law we promote healing through compassionate advocacy. With each case tailored to the individual, we look our for your best interests by evaluating your unique circumstances. Contact us today for a FREE in person or remote consultation.