For many people, the death of a loved one is emotionally devastating. Family members of the deceased are often in an emotionally vulnerable and highly coercible state when making funeral arrangements.
The funeral industry is notorious for exploiting this vulnerability to prey on loved ones of the deceased. They work hard to upsell – even when people make it clear they can’t afford it. They charge a premium for anything that they provide. They offer services that are completely unnecessary.
Obviously, there are many in the industry who do not do these things, but unfortunately far too many do. However unsavory, though, none of them are technically illegal. What is against the law in Florida is for anyone in the funeral industry to engage in negligent behavior.
Like what happened not long ago in Flint, Michigan. Neighbors complained of the stench of rotting flesh emanating from the Swanson Funeral Home in Flint, Michigan, leading authorities to uncover a grisly scene. Ten bodies were discovered decomposing in an unrefrigerated garage, one of which was not embalmed and had been left in the garage for over six weeks. The bodies were slated for cremation, but the mortuary owner had insufficient funds to carry out cremation in a timely manner and simply didn’t do it.
Mortuary owners have also been known to engage in more deliberate forms of negligence. The FBI is investigating Sunset Mesa mortuary in Montrose, Colorado, whose owner ran a business selling human body parts on the same premise. The investigation is ongoing, but it is alleged that the owners sold gold crowns of the deceased to fund a family vacation, and sold body parts to a nearby medical school for profit.
Discovering that a loved one has been mishandled by a mortuary can be traumatic for family members, who expect for the deceased to be handled with respect and dignity. If this is the case, it is important to hold mortuaries accountable for these unethical practices by exposing their negligence and seeking damages. How?
Proving Mortuary Negligence in Florida
Mortuary negligence must be proven in order to win compensation. To prove that a mortuary was negligent in the care of a corpse, surviving loved ones must be able to demonstrate duty, breach of duty, causation, and harm.
In other words, it must be proven that the funeral home owed the loved ones and corpse a duty of care and breached that duty, which caused compensable injury to the loved ones.
If you’re unsure whether or not you have a valid case, talk to an experienced Florida injury attorney and have them go over the facts of the situation with you.
Damages Available for Florida Mortuary Negligence
If someone injures you in an auto accident, you receive damages in the form of medical costs, lost work, and so on. When you sue for compensation, what you’re suing for isn’t the negligent act itself, but the costs (financial and otherwise) that you incurred because of it.
How does this apply to mortuary negligence? What damages can you sue for?
Plaintiffs may be able to recover damages for funeral expenses, foreseeable future costs resulting from the negligence, and similar losses. Neglect of a corpse may also be grounds for claiming damages for emotional distress.
Affected by Mortuary Negligence?
The loss of a loved one can shake a family to its core. You entrust your loved one to a mortuary, believing that these trained professionals will treat them with respect and dignity. Discovering that your loved one’s body has been mishandled in some way can be traumatic for the entire family, adding a substantial emotional burden to an already trying time.
If you feel that a mortuary has acted negligently in the handling of your loved one, do not allow them to get away with it. Reach out to a compassionate but aggressive personal injury attorney can get the compensation you deserve, providing some closure on an unnecessary and traumatic event for your family.
About the Author:
Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of Winston Law. For over 20 years, he has successfully represented countless people in all kinds of personal injury cases, with a particular focus on child injury, legal malpractice, and premises liability. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Preeminent Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, enjoys a 10.0 rating by AVVO as a Top Personal Injury Attorney, has been selected as a Florida “SuperLawyer” from 2011-2017 – an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state – and was voted to Florida Trend’s ”Legal Elite” and as one of the Top 100 Lawyers in Florida and one of the Top 100 Lawyers in the Miami area for 2015, 2016, and 2017.