San Jose Funeral Home Negligence Attorney
When a loved one dies, whether sudden or anticipated, families must cope with the enormous gravity of the loss. Losing a family member can be very disruptive and almost always requires a complicated recovery. Before focusing on recovery, families are typically responsible for making arrangements for their loved one’s body. Depending on the decedent’s preferences and religious affiliations, families may arrange wakes, visitations, funerals, memorial services, or burials.
Families must first find a funeral home they trust to prepare the body for whatever services are to follow. Funeral homes can help relieve some stress by assisting families with planning the services. Spouses, children, and parents must have time to notify extended family and friends and sort through personal belongings. Families may also be responsible for settling any financial matters the decedent left behind.
When trusting a funeral home to handle most of the planning and preparation, families expect a high level of respect. Unfortunately, some funeral home employees take advantage of grieving families. Funeral homes should always treat remains with dignity and respect. The failure to provide proper handling and adequate care deny decedents and their families of the respect they deserve.
If a San Jose funeral home acted negligently when caring for the remains of your loved one, you may be entitled to compensation. California law allows families to recover compensation for funeral home negligence. Contact Bohn & Fletcher to speak with a compassionate and qualified personal injury lawyer. Schedule a free consultation to discuss the details of your claim with a member of our dedicated team.
Types of Funeral Home Negligence
When funeral homes don’t provide the proper care for the remains of our loved ones, it can cause additional stress. Families are already grieving the loss of a loved one and any added stress can be damaging. Funeral home negligence might involve intentional harm, neglectful acts, or a failure to provide proper services and care.
Specifically, negligent acts may include:
- Loss of remains. Funeral homes are tasked with preparing a body for display during visitation and/or cremating the remains. Whether families intend to bury their loved ones or keep their ashes, they should expect the funeral home to know where the remains are located. Funeral homes may lose or mix up remains with another decedent. In either situation, families will likely experience a great deal of distress. Burying a loved one or spreading their ashes provides family members with the closure that is critical to the grieving process. Negligent funeral homes who lose remains deprive families of this opportunity for closure.
- Theft. Unscrupulous funeral home employees or unaffiliated parties may steal valuable property from the bodies they preserve. Commonly, rings, earrings, and other jewelry, gold teeth, and artificial limbs may be missing. In extreme cases, even organs or body parts may be harvested to sell for research.
- Improper care of remains. Treating remains poorly can include many different intentional or neglectful acts. Funeral homes may fail to properly store bodies, place multiple bodies in one casket, or drop bodies while transporting them. Employees may mutilate or disfigure bodies or fail to verify the identity of a body and present the wrong body to the family.
- Embalming mistakes. Part of postmortem body preparation includes storing and embalming a body for presentation during visitations, wakes, or funerals. Unlicensed, inexperienced, or negligent employees may make errors resulting in disfigurement and extensive decomposition. When embalming mistakes are severe, funeral homes may have to resort to cremation. Families expected to view their loved ones will be wrongfully denied that opportunity.
- Cremation errors. In addition to losing cremated remains, funeral homes who offer cremation services can make other devastating mistakes. For example, cremating the wrong body, mixing cremated remains of more than one body, or providing families with the wrong remains. Funeral homes commit gross negligence when they try to hide their errors by cremating a body without permission.
- Cemetery mistakes. Many times funeral homes are also involved with burial. Mistakes and negligence may occur during the burial process. Employees may place remains in the wrong cemetery plot or fail to bury a loved one according to family wishes. Negligent acts may also include neglecting gravesites, burying multiple bodies in one grave, or moving bodies after the first burial.
Criminal Acts Involving Human Remains
California’s Cemetery and Funeral Bureau oversees the Death Care Industry. The Department provides licensing and promulgates regulations. If you suspect a funeral home has been negligent or committed criminal acts, California law entitles you to file a complaint. The agency will investigate the funeral home. If the investigation reveals improper conduct, the funeral home may lose their license or be subject to other disciplinary actions. Your lawyer can help you file this complaint and assist you with providing information for the investigation.
If mutilation, sexual abuse, or other criminal acts are involved, the agency will involve law enforcement to take appropriate measures. Family members’ claims against the funeral home are civil actions completely separate from criminal charges. A civil lawsuit allows you to recover any expenses you incurred as a result of funeral home neglect. In addition, you may recover compensation for pain and suffering. In cases of gross negligence, intentional harm, or fraud, you might also receive punitive damages. In appropriate cases breach of contract damages are also available.
Contact a San Jose Funeral Home Negligence Lawyer Today
You are going through a difficult time after losing a loved one. A negligent funeral home who didn’t handle your loved one’s remains with dignity and respect only makes the circumstances worse. Let one of our skilled attorneys advocate for your family, seek justice, and preserve the memory of your loved one. You and your family should be allowed to focus on dealing with your loss.
Contact one of our compassionate San Jose funeral home negligence lawyers at Bohn & Fletcher. We offer a free case review to discuss the details of your funeral negligence claim. Our dedicated team will help you determine the best course of action for you and your family. Call us at (408) 279-4222 or write to us using our online contact form.