Things to Know About Death Certificates in Investigating Wrongful Death Claims

Published on April 17th, 2018

A certified death certificate may be an important part of your wrongful death claim as a means of obtaining death benefits, claiming insurance proceeds, notifying social security and other legal purposes. Additionally, most probate courts require a certified copy of the death certificate in order to appoint a personal representative or special administer to investigate and pursue legal claims on behalf of the estate or deceased person.

In order to obtain a certified death certificate in South Carolina, we typically start by contacting the South Carolina Division of Vital Records. South Carolina Vital Records issues certified copies of South Carolina birth certificates, death certificates, marriage records, and divorce records for events that occurred in the State of South Carolina. You may be entitled to obtain a certified copy of a South Carolina death certificate if you are a member of the decedent’s family. Below, please find the steps recommended by South Carolina Vital Records to obtain a certified copy of the death certificate on your own.

When consulting with legal counsel regarding a potential wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of a family member or loved one, it is important to obtain a certified copy of the decedent’s death certificate. With a death certificate and other necessary paperwork, an estate can be opened and a special administrator or personal representative appointed. The special administrator or personal representative can possess the power and authorization to help your lawyers investigate a potential lawsuit by signing medical authorizations – allowing your wrongful death lawyer to request medical records, request an autopsy report, demand death benefits, and take other necessary legal action.

When an autopsy is performed, it generally takes additional weeks or months for the death certificate to become available. While mistakes on death certificates are uncommon, they do happen, so it is important to review every detail of the certificate once you receive it. In cases of suspected medical malpractice, if your loved one died in the hospital, nursing home, or even a detention center, jail, or prison, his or her attending physician will issue cause of death and sign the certificate. If the physician attempts to cover up a case of malpractice, the cause of death may be falsified. You should obtain the death certificate immediately to determine if the cause of death is plausible and accurate. If you suspect your loved one’s death was attributed to malpractice, you may need to request an autopsy or investigation before the body is cremated or embalmed and buried.

Four Ways to Apply for a Death Certificate

If your loved one or family member has died under suspicious circumstances, you may have the right to investigate a potential wrongful death action. At Evans Moore, LLC, our attorneys will work with you to develop a comprehensive legal strategy to investigate and pursue a wrongful death action. Our goal is to hold the responsible party accountable, to ensure that it does not happen again, and to work as hard as we possibly can to fully compensate you for your loss. Contact us at (843) 995-5000 to learn more about your legal options.


Marnie H.

My attorney James Moore goes the extra mile for clients and I highly recommend Mr Moore. He is always available for his clients.


Honest and dedicated.


Amazing attorneys who will work very hard to make sure justice is served and that everything runs as smoothly as possible.


I recently retained Mr. James Moore to represent me in an accident involving a trucking company. He settled the case in a timely and professional manner, and i couldn’t be more pleased with the outcome. I would recommend him and the firm, with the highest regards, to anyone needing legal representation.


God Bless James Moore & Scott Evans for the work they do – fighting for those that cannot speak for themselves, those that are pushed aside and thrown away, those that do not have a voice, those that are true victims.


James and Scott’s personal attention and responsiveness are attributes that made them really stand out. Their preparedness and dedication to a favorable outcome was exceptional. They are both genuinely good people who care for the well-being of their clients.


Professional while also being engaging. Walked family through tough experience and was knowledgeable calming voice. Very glad we hired.

Jenn (on behalf of her father)

After suffering a tragic loss, I went to several law firms looking for someone to help with some sort of settlement from the family of the person who caused the loss. After having the door shut in my face, countless times I met with James and Scott, who agreed to take the case to see what he could do. Each time , throughout the process I called the office, no matter who I spoke to or why I called, everyone made me feel like a valued client. I am grateful for the Evans Moore law firm and will recommend them to anyone who would find their representation useful.


Scott Evans handled cases for my daughter and me in the last few years with great results. He is professional, knowledgeable, caring and provides comfort for his clients during their hard times. Office staff at Evans Moore is terrific, always helpful when I called and a great asset to the firm. Should i need legal help in the future I will call Evans Moore.


I retained James Moore of Evans Moore Law firm in regards to traffic accident in which I was involved. The expert advice, legal support and personal attention Mr. Moore provided during a stressful time and unfavorable situation was unparalleled. Not only was the issue resolved swiftly, but Mr. Moore went out of his way to keep me updated on all matters during the process. The next time I’ll need to call ‘my lawyer,’ as they say, I’ll know exactly who to call. Thanks again to Mr. Moore and the entire Evans Moore Law Firm for your support!