Losing a loved one is one of the most painful life experiences that we as humans endure. The bereaved often rely on the support of physicians, clergy members, and funeral home staff to make the process of losing a loved one easier.
The majority of funeral homes operate responsibly, treating the deceased with dignity and the survivors with compassion. Nevertheless, funeral home negligence is a growing problem in the United States. Becoming the victim of funeral home negligence makes the experience of losing a loved one much harder for the bereaved, and it is as unethical as it is unnecessary.
When you have just lost a loved one, you are vulnerable. You may be left in shock or feel numb, making it difficult to keep track of what’s going on. You may also be more easily coerced by predatory funeral home practices when you are in an emotionally vulnerable state. Unfortunately, some funeral homes take advantage of this vulnerability by failing to treat the deceased as promised, or by engaging in unethical business practices with the bereaved.
There are a number of negligent and unethical practices that funeral homes may engage in. Below, we’re going to discuss common forms of funeral home negligence and signs to look for in order to ensure that you and your loved ones do not become the victims of funeral home negligence.
If you feel that you may have been the victim of funeral home negligence, consult with a Florida personal injury attorney to help evaluate your case and learn what options are available to you.
Improper Cremation Practices
Because families of the deceased receive unidentifiable cremains after cremation, improper cremation practices are harder to catch and therefore a common form of funeral home negligence.
Funeral homes may mishandle cremations by cremating the wrong body, losing cremains, mingling the cremains with another person’s ashes, or giving the wrong cremains to the family. In some cases, funeral homes have even failed to cremate bodies at all, and presumably given mislabeled or false cremains to the family.
It can be very upsetting to find out after the fact that your loved one’s cremation was mishandled. Worse, funeral homes may attempt to cover up cremation mistakes or deliberate mishandling by cremating the body early, or by cremating the body without the family’s permission.
Improper Body Transport or Storage
By entrusting your loved one’s remains to a funeral home, you are trusting that the funeral home will treat your loved one with respect and dignity throughout the burial practice. However, some funeral homes may cut corners by failing to transport or store the body properly.
This could include misplacement of corpses, dropping bodies during transport, transporting multiple bodies together, or failing to store bodies properly, allowing decomposition to set in.
Funeral home employees may steal personal property from the bodies they are entrusted with, including jewelry, gold teeth, and prosthetics.
Even more disturbing is the practice of illegally selling bodies or body parts. Cadavers and body parts are used for medical research and training, and they can be sold for a substantial amount of money in the so-called “body trade.”
A number of funeral homes have been caught illegally selling cadavers and body parts without the permission of family members. One notable funeral home even ran a body brokerage firm from the same facility as the funeral home and facility, and was investigated by the FBI.
If you suspect that you or your deceased loved one could have been the victims of theft, consider speaking with local law enforcement and an attorney.
Overcharging for Burial Procedures or Services
Funeral homes may take advantage of grieving relatives’ vulnerability by selling services that aren’t really needed, or by overcharging for their services. For example, if embalming is not necessary for a private family viewing of the body and the funeral home states that it is, this could constitute funeral home negligence.
Failure to Provide Contracted Services or Goods
Some funeral homes may cut corners by failing to provide services or goods that family members have paid for. For example, the funeral home may provide a cheaper casket without the family’s knowledge, or they might fail to perform services related to the embalming and preparation of the body for viewing. Alternatively, the funeral home may fail to provide the grave marker or headstone after the burial.
Failure to Provide Grave Maintenance
In many cases, the family of the deceased will purchase a grave maintenance contract with the funeral home or cemetery. Under this contract, the facility is generally charged with keeping the grave site clean and free of debris, and with making reasonable security efforts to protect the grave from vandals or grave robbers.
Failure to follow through on these services could lead to upsetting mishaps such as accidental corpse exhumation or vandalism of the grave site, which would be grounds for a funeral home negligence claim.
None of these things are acceptable, and you should not have to endure them in silence. Hold the responsible parties accountable by filing a mortuary negligence lawsuit.
About the Author:
Jeffrey Braxton is a trial lawyer in Fort Lauderdale who has devoted his career to the practice of personal injury law. As lead trial attorney for the South Florida Injury Law Firm, Jeff has litigated thousands of cases and is a member of the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, an exclusive group of attorneys who have resolved cases in excess of one million dollars.
Temperatures are rising and a lot of long weekends are just around the corner. Whether you’re planning to hop in your boat for Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, or other summer holidays, it’s important to stay safe this season. Boating accidents do happen here in Florida, and many can be fatal. In 2017, 658 [..]
In the height of prom season, across the country, local police and first responders work with surrounding schools, survivors, and other drunk driving prevention organizations to reenact realistic reminders of why teens in their communities shouldn’t drink and drive. One survivor in Illinois recounted his experience of being ejected through a car window after plowing [..]
Cycling is not only a convenient and healthy way to get around in Florida, but it’s widely accepted as an effective means of reducing congestion on the road and improving the quality of our environment. However, the relationship between drivers and cyclists in Florida has always been tinged with antagonism. Motorists often complain that cyclists [..]
We live in an animal-loving society. Most of us interact with pets on a daily basis (ours or others), and they are an important part of many people’s lives. However, it is vital to remember that all animals are, at their core, wild, and sometimes things go wrong. What happens when an animal bites someone? [..]
Just under a year ago, a Florida mother and her two toddlers suffered a fatal auto collision with an alligator in South Carolina. According to police, they struck the animal and skidded off the road, smashing into a tree. The vehicle burst into flames upon impact, killing all three. Unfortunately, if you live in Florida [..]
Although we often first think of losing control in the rain or taking a surprise backroads curve too sharply, but many Florida motorcycle accidents are actually caused by passenger cars. In a previous post, we shared that, at the time, four of the five most common motorcycle accidents involved a passenger vehicle, and a quick [..]
Buy a car? Need minimum liability required. Buy a house? Got to have a homeowners’ policy. Living and breathing? Government says you better have health coverage or else. So why does it seem then that those insurance companies that we hire and pay regular monthly premiums to continue to fight so hard against acting in [..]
In June 2018, a horrific crash was caught on camera near Orlando. In this very dramatic footage, the vehicle is seen drifting into a concrete barrier at the toll plaza on the Florida Turnpike near St. Cloud. The impact ejects one of the four passengers onboard out through the windshield and sends him flying for [..]
If you recently suffered injuries from night out on the town, you know that slip and fall injuries are no joke. People have received millions of dollars in compensation after slipping and falling at a store or a bar. Maybe you want to pursue one of these lawsuits yourself. After all, the medical bills are [..]
If you have recently suffered a personal injury and are currently considering filing a claim, you are likely asking yourself whether the effort will be worth your time. Frankly, the answer to that question depends on what the incident has cost you. In a personal injury case, when a judge or jury finds there is [..]
Bars and advertisements for alcoholic products often encourage people to “drink responsibly,” but in some cases, the establishments or bartenders serving these drinks may be at least partially liable for a patron’s alcohol-related injury or death. Under certain circumstances, bars can—and should—be held responsible for over-serving patrons. Many states have “dram shop” laws (named [..]
The death of a loved one is traumatic and devastating experience— regardless of the cause. However, the ordeal can be especially upsetting if the death could have been avoided had it not been for the negligent actions of another. In Florida, surviving family members and loved ones may be able to recover compensation for [..]
Summertime is quickly approaching, which means barbecues, family vacations, and a lot of days sitting by the pool. While you and your loved ones enjoy the hot summer weather and cool water, it is important to keep yourself safe. In this post we will be focusing on swimming pool injuries and how to prevent them. [..]
Right now, all Florida drivers are required to have car insurance coverage that pays personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, but that may come to an end in 2019 if some lawmakers get their way. Florida currently operates under a “no-fault” system when it comes to paying insurance claims after a car accident. If a [..]
When you become a parent, every little decision regarding your child’s safety and development can become a hot debate. We’re not going to tell you how to raise your child, but we do have one piece of advice backed up with statistics from the AAP and NHTSA. When you are driving with your child, [..]
It’s not every day that you get into an accident and need to file a personal injury protection (PIP) suit. This type of litigation may be confusing to many, especially since PIP laws are constantly being debated and changed in Florida. However, it is possible for you to get through this process and receive [..]
Car accidents can result in tens (if not hundreds) of thousands of dollars in medical bills, lost wages, and car repairs. How is it decided who will have to pay for these damages and bills? In Florida, it usually starts with personal injury protection (PIP). If you experience damages that add up to less than [..]
Image: http://pixabay.com/en/dog-man-attacking-canine-training-78117/ When Pets Attack, They Can Cause Serious or Even Fatal Injuries Most people like dogs. How can you resist those adoring eyes, the wagging tail, and the warm, fuzzy head that seems to appear in your lap just when you’re feeling your lowest? So many Americans like dogs, in fact, that [..]
What are your chances of getting hit by someone driving a rental car in Florida? Every year, the state of Florida has 15 million active drivers on its many roads and highways. About 250,000 drivers end up in car crashes annually in Florida. Since almost 85 million visitors come to enjoy Florida every year, [..]
School is out, but that doesn’t mean your child has to be stuck at home for the summer with no structure and nothing to do. Summer camps are a great way to keep your child active, supervised, and having fun – while also allowing them to branch out. However, summer camps come with a lot [..]
This law firm helped me with my car accident case and helped me to get the most of the medical benefits that were needed after the accident, and gave me fair and helpful expectations on what I would recieve back for the pain and suffering after the accident.