How to Recognize Funeral Home Malpractice | Belt, Bruner & Barnett

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How to Recognize Funeral Home Malpractice

Apr 13, 2024 | Funeral Home

Losing a loved one can be among the most difficult times you experience. Those who go through the grieving process often have people to thank who have made the entire experience a little easier, such as funeral home staff and undertakers.

Unfortunately, there are instances when funeral home malpractice occurs, making the experience of the grieving parties that much more difficult. If you have suffered from funeral home negligence, it’s important to obtain the assistance of a highly capable and experienced attorney with legal knowledge and compassion. They can fight vigorously on your behalf for the justice and compensation you deserve.

You can count on our team of funeral home negligence lawyers at Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. to do just that.

Call us today at (205) 933-1500, or contact us online to request a free, no-obligation consultation.

Signs of Funeral Home Malpractice

The pain, loss, and grief of losing a loved one can make it difficult to manage making arrangements for your loved one. Although many funeral home professionals act with professionalism and honesty, there are unfortunate instances when uncaring, unethical behavior can make your situation even more difficult.

You should be aware of certain indicators of funeral home malpractice. They include:

  • Failure to store the body properly
  • Failure to properly embalm the body
  • Losing cremated remains
  • Cremating the wrong body
  • Carelessness in the transport of the body
  • Theft of personal property before burial
  • Allowing unlicensed staff to handle embalming
  • Allowing the body to excessively decompose due to improper embalming or storage
  • Stealing your loved one’s organs
  • Selling you a higher quality casket and then substituting it with a lesser quality one
  • Placing another body in your loved one’s cemetery plot
  • Burying the body of your loved one in the wrong cemetery plot
  • Putting your loved one with one or more other bodies into a single coffin or overcrowding a mausoleum

If you can identify any of the above actions occurring in connection with the preparations and arrangements made for your loved one, contact an experienced funeral home malpractice attorney.

What to Do if You Suspect Funeral Home Negligence

If you have concerns about your loved one’s care at a funeral home, addressing them swiftly and thoroughly is vital. Gather detailed notes about what you’ve noticed, keep copies of relevant paperwork, and document physical evidence. Next, consider contacting the appropriate authorities, like the police if you suspect criminal activity or Alabama’s Board of Funeral Services to file a complaint against the funeral home.

Consulting an attorney experienced in funeral home negligence can help you understand your legal options and navigate the process of seeking compensation. Remember, you’re not alone – don’t hesitate to lean on friends, family, or a grief counselor for emotional support during this difficult time.

Proving Funeral Home Negligence

If you suspect your loved one has not received the care they deserve, you can seek resolution to ensure they receive justice.

There are several elements you will need to prove in order to demonstrate that a funeral home was negligent in its care of your loved one. You must demonstrate that the funeral home was obligated to provide you with a duty of care concerning the treatment of your loved one and that its staff breached their duty, resulting in an injury on your loved one’s part that merits compensation.

Damages Available in a Funeral Home Negligence Case

In negligence cases, you often can recover for past expenses and reasonably foreseeable future costs connected with the losses and harm you have suffered. Negligence associated with the body of your loved one can serve as the basis for a claim of emotional distress.

You can recoup out-of-pocket expenses such as funeral costs and additional services needed due to the negligent party’s errors.  Beyond the financial, Alabama recognizes the severe emotional distress caused by negligence, awarding compensation for mental anguish, loss of companionship, and the emotional pain of witnessing mishandling or discovering fraudulent practices.

The facts of your case will be unique and require the assistance and counsel of an experienced funeral home malpractice attorney who understands the nature of the harm you have incurred.

Tort of Outrage

In some cases, a funeral home may engage in conduct that exceeds all bounds of decency and gives rise to the tort of intentional infliction of emotional distress. This could include the mistreatment of a corpse or egregious conduct relating to a funeral or burial. It may seem unthinkable, but the Alabama Supreme Court recognizes the tort of outrage for such situations where you could be awarded punitive damages.

To prevail on a tort of outrage claim, you must prove that the conduct (1) was intentional or reckless; (2) was extreme and outrageous; and (3) caused emotional distress so severe that no reasonable person could be expected to endure it.

Contact Experienced Alabama Funeral Home Malpractice Attorneys

Handling the loss of your loved one, in addition to all of the funeral and burial arrangements, is difficult enough. If the funeral home was negligent or mishandled your loved one’s wishes, your situation can feel heart-wrenching. If you believe a funeral home in Alabama has engaged in malpractice regarding the arrangements for your loved one, our legal team at Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. can help.

Contact us today at (205) 933-1500 for a free, no-obligation consultation.