Understanding Funeral Mistakes and Abuse
Written by Cooper & Friedman PLLC on September 5, 2017
There are not many things in life as difficult to deal with as the death of a loved one. When putting a loved one to rest, the most that you can hope for is an easy process. A process that doesn’t involve a lot of errors or mistakes is ideal. However, funeral mistakes and funeral abuse are more common than you might think. Unfortunately, this is especially true in the United States where the average funeral costs between $7,000 and $10,000 and there is a $20 billion funeral home industry. The extra grief and stress that come with dealing with a funeral mistake can be extremely difficult. Especially during a time that is already emotionally trying for family members.
Recently, stories about funeral mistakes and funeral abuse occurring in the United States have been making the news. Can you imagine receiving the cremated ashes of a stranger instead of a loved one? Or discovering your deceased family member’s body has been shipped to the wrong funeral home? These horrifying thoughts are unimaginable for some. For others, they are reality that those people are forced to deal with.
Real Life Examples of Funeral Mistakes
There are multiple ways in which a funeral home or crematorium can be negligent with remains of a loved one. Negligence, abuse, and mistakes are often hard to prevent. By being aware of the possibility that it could occur, you can learn what to look for. Some of the more shocking cases of funeral home mistakes or abuse include the following:
- Switching high-end coffins purchased by family members out after burial and replacing them with less expensive models
- Placing multiple bodies in one burial plot or, even, one coffin
- Mishandling, mutilating, distorting, disfiguring, or assaulting bodies
- Mishandling or losing bodies and/or body parts
- Stealing expensive, irreplaceable jewelry, clothing, and personal items
- Vandalizing of grave sites after burial
While these actions may seem unbelievable, they do happen. According to the Economics of the Funeral Industry, 2.4 million funerals occur each year in America. However, the number of funerals is not the main cause of funeral abuse and mistakes. It is actually due to a large shift in the number of independent, family-owned funeral homes that have been sold to or bought by larger companies. In the 1970s, almost 100% of funeral homes were owned by small, independent owners. Now, over 80% of funeral homes are owned by large corporations. With larger corporations owning and managing more funeral homes, the handling of bodies, monitoring of cremation, and other responsibilities that fall on funeral home directors and employees are left unchecked. This allows for more room for error and other negligent behavior to occur without consequence and sometimes with no knowledge.
What to Do Before Filing a Funeral Mistakes and Abuse Legal Case
Before filing a legal case against a funeral home, there are a few important steps to take.
First, discuss the legal issue that you want to pursue with other close family members. They may be interested in joining the lawsuit. Whether they are or are not interested, it is still important to get the names and contact information of others who were present at the service or involved in the preparation process. A helpful tip is to collect the guest book that was present at the viewing and contact people who signed.
Second, speak to an attorney before talking to your insurance company about your fears that a mistake or abuse was made to the body of your deceased loved one. More often than not, insurance companies and claims that they have on record are harmful to your case instead of helpful.
And finally, when you do seek legal help, find a law firm with personal injury experience handling these types of cases such as Cooper and Friedman, PLLC. We offer free case consultations and if we do accept your funeral mistake or funeral abuse case, it will be handled on the basis of a contingency fee. This means we only receive pay if we settle or win for you. If we don’t win your case and bring justice to your loved one’s memory then you owe us nothing.
There are few tragedies greater than coming to the realization that your loved one’s remains have been tampered with.
It can be traumatizing to learn and even more traumatizing to right. If you have been the victim of a funeral mistake that was made unintentionally or fear that a funeral home has abused your loved one’s remains, contact the Law Office of Cooper and Friedman today. The legal area of funeral mistakes and abuse is a difficult one to wade through, but we have over 50 combined years of experience dealing with a huge variety of personal injury cases.
If you, or someone you know, have recently buried a loved one and suspect funeral abuse or mistakes were made, you have the right to restore your loved one’s legacy and may be eligible for compensation from the funeral home or crematory. To learn more and get a free case consultation from a trusted, Louisville, KY law firm contact The Law Office of Cooper & Friedman today at 502-549-7555 or by visiting us online and using our Contact Us form.