After a relative dies, family members often take comfort in providing their loved one with a respectful and dignified burial. The sudden loss of a life is filled with heartbreak, but the process of grieving during a funeral helps the family to accept the death and honor their loved one’s time on earth.
Unfortunately, many funeral homes are ruled more by incompetence and greed than by providing solace to a grieving family. When a funeral director or mortician mishandles a deceased individual's body, the family may suffer severe psychological trauma at a time when they are already struggling to cope.
Common Types of Funeral Home Negligence
Funeral homes, cemeteries, or even medical facilities can be charged with negligence or malpractice for failure to provide proper end-of-life services. Families may be entitled to seek payment and punitive damages from a facility for many different acts of funeral malpractice or negligence, including:
- Embalming errors. Improper embalming or storage of a body can cause excessive decomposition and grotesque disfigurement, particularly when an unlicensed person performs the embalming. In one of our recent cases, a body had been allowed to decompose and had to be cremated, denying the family the chance to view their loved one.
- Cremation mistakes. There are many ways a botched cremation can cause unnecessary suffering for survivors, including cremating the wrong body, losing cremated remains, allowing cremated remains to mingle with another person’s ashes, or giving the wrong cremated remains to the family. In some cases, a funeral home may attempt to hide its mishandling of remains by cremating the body early or without the family’s permission.
- Improper treatment of remains. Funeral operators have been found liable for mutilation, improper storing of bodies, misplacement of corpses, placing multiple bodies in one casket, dropping bodies during transport, and using broken or defective caskets. Others have failed to verify the identities of the deceased persons they received, presenting the wrong relative’s remains to each family.
- Theft. Employees at funeral homes may steal personal property from the bodies they receive, including jewelry, prosthetics, gold teeth, and even body parts (such as corneas that can be sold to research labs or used for transplants without the family’s knowledge).
- Fraud. Fraud in funeral malpractice may range from overcharging for procedures to burying unshielded bodies in graves in order to resell the caskets. Some funeral homes have collected thousands from fraudulent pre-need contracts, taking money up front for funeral and burial services that the deceased never receives.
- Cemetery negligence. Improper care of the deceased can take place immediately or long after the funeral. Cemetery overseers may bury a body in an incorrect plot, fail to bury the deceased in accordance with the family’s wishes, move bodies several times after initial burial, fail to tend to grave sites (resulting in vandalism), or bury multiple bodies in one plot to maximize profit.
We Have Experience Holding Funeral Homes Accountable for Heinous Actions
The attorneys at Wayne Wright LLP have successfully held mortuaries accountable for their actions in a variety of funeral negligence cases. If your next of kin was treated wrongly after he or she passed away, we will fight hard and do all we can to bring the responsible party to justice. Don’t suffer alone, call us today at 800-237-3334 to speak with an attorney about your case.