How to Contest the Reason for Death on a Certificate

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The cause of death listed on a death certificate can have implications in criminal and civil cases, including whether surviving spouses or children are entitled to death benefits. Therefore, it is important that the cause of death be listed correctly. In most states, you can correct biographical information such as marital status or address by filing out a form and paying a fee, but the process to change the cause of death is more complicated.

Contact your state's department of health. The exact process to amend a cause-of-death finding differs by state, but most departments only allow changes by the physician who designated the cause of death or by the county medical examiner.

Present the physician who certified cause of death or the county medical examiner with proof that the designation is incorrect. A state department of health will only amend the cause of death if there is sufficient medical evidence to contradict the current listing.

Submit the necessary paperwork to your state's department of health. Most states require medical proof, along with the notarized signature of the original physician or of medical examiner.


About the Author

Sally Brooks has been a writer and stand-up comedian since 2006. Also a licensed attorney, Brooks' work has been featured in the "Temple Political and Civil Rights Law Review" and "Jurist." Brooks holds a Juris Doctor from the University of Cincinnati and a Bachelor of Science in health science from Purdue University.

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