Losing a loved one is a difficult experience in anyone’s life. It’s heartbreaking. The emotions are raw and can leave you feeling hollow inside. You may go through the motions while numb to people’s well-intended sentiment. Nothing seems to matter; but it does. Things do still matter; one is being treated with the respect, empathy, and dignity that you and your family deserve at this delicate time.
Yet, due to negligence, there are plenty of mistakes that occur within the funeral, cremation, and burial industries. If you think that something is amiss, don’t ignore it.
Signs of Negligence or Wrongdoing By a Funeral Home
Some signs of negligence are easy to recognize. For example; if you provided jewelry for your loved one to be buried or cremated with, and the jewelry is missing, there’s a problem.
If you believe that you purchased a different casket than the one presented with your loved one, it’s possible that it was switched to a less expensive model than the one you chose and paid for.
If you signed a contract for the cremation of your loved one, and the establishment is giving you the run around as to when you can retrieve the decedent’s remains, your loved one’s ashes may have been misplaced or lost.
If you were asked to identify the body and you were shown a body who was not your deceased loved one, someone has made an inexcusable error and should be held responsible.
The examples above are obvious, and are only a minute sample of what can and has gone wrong in a funeral home. Other instances of funeral negligence or intentional wrongdoing include:
- Receiving the ashes of someone other than your loved one
- Not having the body prepared for the funeral
- Failing to properly embalm the body
- Burying the wrong body
- Using the wrong gravesite
- Cremation without permission
- Breach of contract
- Mishandling of the deceased
- Improper storage of the deceased
In many cases, family members won’t know that there was negligence or intentional wrongdoing until later; learning of it from a news story about unsanitary conditions, improper storage or about the funeral home selling organs and body parts of the deceased.
What to Do If You Believe a Funeral Home Has Been Negligent
Whether you’ve noticed something obvious (like missing jewelry) or you suspect that something is wrong, don’t ignore that feeling, follow these steps:
- Act quickly. Time is of the essence with these types of cases, as evidence of wrongdoing can be destroyed.
- Keep all of your documents. This includes contracts, payment plans, payment receipts, brochures, emails, and any other documentation evidencing your transactions with the funeral home.
- Write down your recollections. This can be conversations with funeral staff, or details that suggest negligence.
- Talk with an attorney. Funeral negligence is more common than people think. While victims are often navigating this experience for the first time, an experienced attorney knows the signs to look for. They will also know whether a particular funeral home has had issues in the past and the steps necessary to uncover every detail. A lawyer can collect evidence by subpoenaing the records of the funeral home, licensing agencies, as well as obtaining sworn testimony of personnel and other experts to reconstruct the activity.
If You’ve Been a Victim of Funeral Home Negligence, Let Us Help
At Carey, Leisure & Neal, we have over three decades of combined experience successfully representing clients. All of our attorneys are accessible and Board Certified in civil trial law. Let us help you. Contact us online or call us at 727-799-3900 to schedule a free consultation.
Disclaimer: This blog is for informational purposes only and does not create an attorney/client relationship.