What to Do When a Funeral Home Damages a BodyPublished: Dec 05, 2018 in Funeral Home, Personal Injury
When you’re grieving the loss of a loved one, the last thing you want to think about during funeral preparations is legal action. You would like to think there would be no call for a lawsuit, but this is unfortunately not always the case. There have been instances of damaged bodies in funeral homes. You may be wondering if there are any options available to you. Corpse abuse is a legal offense that can be brought against someone who damages or injures a body in a funeral home.
If you have suffered as a result of funeral home negligence, a funeral home lawyer from Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. can help you seek justice. Negligence and abuse by funeral home employees can cause lasting emotional damage. While our lawyers will not be able to take away that pain, they will be able to guide you through the legal process.
Corpse Abuse or Negligence Carries Steep Penalties in Alabama
Under Alabama Code §13A-11-13, corpse abuse is a class C felony. Alabama law defines this offense as any treatment of a body that would “outrage ordinary family sensibilities.” This definition covers a wide range of actions. Causing physical damage to a body would, of course, constitute abuse. The law also applies this definition to declaring that a body has been treated a certain way (embalmed or cremated, for example) when it hasn’t.
If someone abuses a body in a funeral home, they can face prison time and steep fines. Class C felonies are punishable in Alabama by up to 10 years in prison, and $15,000 in fines.
A Broad Scope of Actions Could be Considered Negligence or Abuse
Whether an action would “outrage” the sensibilities of a normal family is a subjective question. While every case is unique, some actions that are commonly considered abuse or funeral home negligence include:
- Improperly embalming the body
- Storing the body improperly
- Cremating the wrong body
- Cremating a body against the wishes of those in control of that decision
- Losing the cremated remains of a body
- Harvesting a body’s organs to sell
- Making an unlicensed person responsible for a body
- Stealing personal possessions or valuables from a body
- Burying a body in the incorrect cemetery plot
- Burying a body in a cemetery plot purchased by someone else
- Damaging or altering the body through careless handling
- Burying a body in a casket that is different, cheaper, or lower quality than the one purchased
- Failing to provide grave maintenance if such maintenance was purchased
- Allowing vandalism of a grave through negligent or inadequate surveillance
- “Overcrowding,” or storing an excessive amount of bodies together
- Allowing the excessive decomposition of a body through poor preservation
If you can prove that the funeral damaged a body of your loved one through any of these methods, you may be able to bring a case against them. Your lawyer will be able to sort through the details of your situation and determine whether the damage caused by the funeral home is actionable.
Are You Suffering Because of Funeral Home Negligence? Call Us Today
Funeral proceedings are painful enough. You shouldn’t be forced to worry about whether funeral home operators are taking adequate care of your friend or loved one’s remains. Any number of actions can result in damage to a body. A skilled funeral home lawyer at Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. can help you figure out whether a funeral home employee caused that damage, and assist you in your fight for compensation.