Personal Injury Lawyers
Tampa, Florida

How to Read a Death Certificate in Florida

We can help get to the bottom of what happened to your loved one

Losing a spouse or parent is always painful, and it can be difficult to focus on the logistical and administrative aspects of dealing with the death. Unfortunately, it’s far too common for grieving families to overlook important details that can affect their family’s legal rights and options in the aftermath of a death.

One of the most important pieces of evidence if your loved one died in a nursing home or assisted living facility is the death certificate. You may need this document for several purposes, such as life insurance, but it’s also an important piece of evidence to find out what happened and what you may be able to do to pursue accountability. Here’s what you need to know about requesting and reading the death certificate. If you have any questions, reach out to Armando Personal Injury Law today; we would be honored to walk you through the process and address any questions or concerns you may have.

Who can request a death certificate in Florida?

In Florida, any adult (18 or over) can request a “short-form” death record without the cause of death. However, the cause of death is protected by privacy laws, so only certain people are allowed to request the “long-form” death certificate that includes the cause of death:

  • The deceased person’s parent, spouse, adult sibling, child, or grandchild
  • Any person with an interest in the estate, as proven by a will, insurance policy, or another similar document
  • With a notarized affidavit, a person acting on behalf of one of the above-named persons, such as an attorney or funeral director

If you are eligible to order the long-form death certificate, you can do so via the Florida Department of Health or the county health department where your loved one passed away. You will need to provide the decedent’s full name, date of death, city or county of death, your full name, relationship to the deceased person, mailing address, and phone number. You will also need to provide supporting documentation and a fee.

If you have not yet obtained the death certificate, we can handle the request on your behalf.

What information to look for on the death certificate

If you’re eligible to request the full long-form death certificate, look carefully at the cause of death. In our experience, “dehydration” is a telltale sign of nursing home neglect or abuse. Dehydration is not only a result of basic needs neglect but is often associated with other forms of nursing home negligence, such as bedsores (pressure ulcers) or untreated broken bones. Some other causes of death that are often associated with abuse and neglect include:

  • Infection
  • Fracture
  • Fall
  • Bedsores, which may also be listed as a sacral or decubitus ulcer
  • Aspirational pneumonia
  • Subdural hematoma

Keep in mind that the death certificate is not the final word. Even if it says “natural causes” or something else that seems unrelated to abuse or neglect, you may still have a case. Some facilities try to cover up the cause of death to evade liability. As your attorney, we can investigate and find out the truth.

Again, if you have any questions about the death certificate or the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death, you need to talk to an attorney as soon as possible. There’s no cost or obligations, just answers about your legal options, including a potential wrongful death claim.

The sooner you take action, the sooner you may be able to get answers. If your spouse or parent died in a nursing home or assisted living facility and you suspect abuse or neglect, schedule your free consultation with a nursing home neglect attorney from our law firm today.

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