Birmingham Funeral Home Negligence Lawyers
When a loved one has passed away, emotions are high. You trust that the funeral home you select will treat your loved one with the utmost care. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. When funeral homes neglect or abuse their duties, the surviving family members suffer. The Birmingham funeral home negligence lawyers at Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. are dedicated to holding wrongdoers accountable for their egregious actions.
If your family has suffered due to the actions of a negligent funeral home, our Alabama funeral home negligence attorneys can help you find the justice that you deserve. Call us today at 205-933-1500 to find out how we can help you through this difficult time.
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You Have Rights If Your Loved One Was Neglected or Abused
Although funeral home abuse is common in the U.S., victims are often not aware of their rights. In fact, much of the information published regarding funeral home negligence does not discuss the important issues. Family members of the deceased have a claim for the significant emotional and psychological distress caused by dealing with such an event.
Courts and juries also recognize the impact such actions can have on the families in an already difficult and stressful time. Funeral home negligence can leave disastrous marks on the psyche of family members whose last recollection of their loved ones will be negative and disheartening.
The Alabama funeral home negligence lawyers of Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. are committed to aggressively pursuing compensation on behalf of those who have been wronged by those who have promised to provide a dignified and respectable funeral and burial suited to the family’s wishes.
Alabama Funeral Home Negligence Liability
Negligence is defined as a sub-standard level of care. When a funeral home fails to render appropriate service, you often will have standing to bring a cause of action for negligence. A funeral home will be found negligent when they failed to properly and reasonably conduct the contracted for services.
If it can be proven that the actions of the funeral home were intentional, punitive damages are also possible. Intent can also be proven through gross negligence in certain circumstances. Punitive damages allow for enhanced damages and serve to punish the defendant for their actions.
Who Can Sue for Damages?
Courts permit recovery for funeral home negligence to family members who have knowledge of the services that were performed improperly. Alabama law is vague as to the specifics of what individuals are permitted to bring a cause of action for damages. The list of possible parties could include:
- Surviving spouse
- Any surviving child or any children of the now deceased party
- Surviving parent or parents of the now deceased party
- Those permitted or names in the order of succession who are entitled to the estate of the deceased
It is likely that a recovery would be limited to those persons who can establish a direct link between the conduct and their own personal mental anguish/emotional distress.
Types of Funeral Abuse Cases
It is difficult to imagine that funeral homes will take advantage of families who are grieving and bereaved but it happens much more often than it should. The following is a list of some of the negligent or intentional actions our Birmingham funeral home negligence lawyers have encountered.
Mishandling of remains
The improper storage or transport of a body can affect its appearance prior to burial, making it impossible for family members to see their loved ones one last time before burial. The mishandling of remains can include dropping the body, improper storage, and preservation, and failing to properly identify the body prior to visitation.
The embalming process is meant to preserve the body and provide for open casket funerals. Errors can result in early decomposition or disfigurement, forcing families to have closed casket visitations.
It is important for funeral homes to ensure that cremated remains are not combined with other bodies, the correct remains are presented to the family and the right person is cremated. Sometimes, funeral directors may cremate a body without permission in order to cover up a different form of negligence. All of these acts show a blatant lack of respect for the deceased and his or her family.
Theft and fraud
From stealing the deceased’s property to overcharging for services or selling caskets that have been used in prior funerals, there are many forms of fraud that occur within funeral homes. The burial of a loved one is an expensive affair and it is wrong for funeral homes to prey on the grieving by not providing every service they agreed to or by robbing the dead.
Improper treatment of remains
Funeral operators have been found liable for misplacement of corpses, using broken or defective caskets, using broken or defective vaults or crypts, and failing to ensure a proper burial. Others have failed to verify the identities of the deceased persons they received, presenting the wrong relative’s remains to each family.
It is the responsibility of the funeral home and cemetery to make sure that the dead are given a proper burial and this includes respecting the family’s wishes post burial. Some funeral operators and cemeteries have been found guilty of burying multiple bodies in the same plot, moving bodies without the permission of the deceased’s family’s permission or failing to provide upkeep.
Each of these cases requires careful evaluation of the facts. If you are interested in bringing a lawsuit for injuries, it is important that you communicate this intent to your family. Often times it will make sense to include all parties who were there at the service in any suit you decide to bring. These issues will be discussed with your attorney.
Steps to Take in Funeral Negligence Cases
If after reading this article you feel you may have a case, follow these important steps to prepare for your case.
First, prepare the names of all family members who may be interested in pursuing a case. Remember, not all parties are permitted to file a lawsuit, but it is advisable that you collect the names of all immediate family members present at the time of the service.
Second, make absolutely no statement to any insurance company. Often times these statements can be harmful to your claim. Even if the funeral home is offering a settlement, speak with an attorney. If you decide to settle, make sure it is a reasonable offer. Insurance companies will often short-change or low ball you with their offers.
Third, speak with a funeral home negligence lawyer regarding your case. Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. offers free consultations in all cases without charge to you. If we decide to accept your case, it will be done on a contingency fee basis. Our no win no fee guarantee assures you that unless we are successful you will owe absolutely nothing in fees.
Our Birmingham Funeral Home Negligence Lawyers Have Experience Holding Funeral Homes Accountable for Their Actions
The attorneys at Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. have successfully held mortuaries, funeral homes, and cemeteries accountable for their actions in a variety of funeral/burial negligence cases. Our lawyers have achieved over $7,000,000 in settlements and verdicts in these types of cases including a $2,000,000 jury verdict in the case Lloyd v. Gray-Brown that was affirmed on appeal by the Alabama Supreme Court. You can read Keith Belt’s reported opinion here. To properly handle a case of this type, it is critical to find an attorney who satisfies the following criteria:
- Extensive experience handling these types of cases
- Has a proven track record of trial experience and trial victories (not just settlements)
- Is available to you for consultation and compassion
- Has experience in handling funeral home/burial cases specifically
- Will work on a contingency fee basis
We satisfy all of these criteria and our Birmingham negligence lawyers would like to help you with your case today. Call us at 205-933-1500 or contact one of our Alabama injury lawyers online to find out how we can help with your funeral home neglect or abuse case.