N.Y. Man Sues for 3rd Time to Prove He's Not Dead

By Aditi Mukherji, JD on September 10, 2013 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

A New York man has filed yet another lawsuit to establish that he's not dead. Maybe the third time will finally be the charm.

No, Juan Arias is not a zombie. Instead, the 57-year-old man was "killed off" by a hospital in the Bronx when his Social Security number, full name, and date of birth were erroneously listed on a death certificate. The body, however, was that of some other Juan Arias.

Sure, it may sound like some ridiculous 80s movie plotline, but this bizarre misunderstanding turned into a living nightmare for Arias.

After his information was included on Dead Juan Arias' death certificate, Living Juan Arias' Medicaid benefits were cut off and his credit cards and bank accounts were closed, reports the New York Post.

As you recall from the movie "Cast Away," Tom Hanks' character was declared dead and -- after showing up four years later -- he had to perform a great deal of paperwork to be "brought back to life" in the eyes of the government.

That's actually not too far off from the way it is in real life.

Fortunately, in real life, the Living Juan Arias will only need to show proof of his identity to win his lawsuit and be legally declared living again, reports the Post. (This, after Arias' two prior lawsuits were dismissed due to his prior lawyers' mistakes.) But reinstating Arias' credit cards and government benefits, and figuring out his tax obligations, will require a lengthier process à la Tom Hanks "Cast Away" style.

Death Certificate Errors

The Dead Juan Arias' family will also want to remedy the death certificate error immediately in order to protect their legal rights -- particularly when it comes to estate matters, the right to remarry, Social Security benefits, tax matters and genealogical research.

Death certificate errors are more common than people realize. Nearly one-third of all death certificates list the wrong cause of death, according to The Washington Post.

When death certificate errors occur, you can submit an amendment to remedy spelling errors, the time of death and a number of other mistakes. But many states limit what you can amend via a form. In California, for example, you cannot use an amendment to change the listed person or the date, time, place, or cause of death.

How's that for "dead man walking"?

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