Do I Have A Case Against My Florida Funeral Home?
When a family member or loved one passes away, you need the professionalism and support of your chosen funeral home to help make saying goodbye easier. A reputable Florida funeral home can handle the remains intelligently and respectfully, while you and the rest of your family focus on mourning and healing. However, what happens if your funeral home acts in a negligent or even dangerous way? Florida’s laws surrounding funeral home negligence are somewhat more specific than the average person thinks.
Malicious or Negligent?
The first step toward determining whether you have a case against the funeral home is determining the nature of their actions – whether malicious or negligent, or somewhere in between. Florida law punishes one much more severely than the other, as actual malice is seen as particularly insidious (and does not, of course, give one the right to act unilaterally). If you believe that the funeral home was merely negligent, on the other hand, you have the right to file suit against them for the harm you and your loved ones have suffered, but the damages will not be as extensive as those against a malicious defendant.
While the overall cause of action in these kinds of suits will generally be negligence, there are several types of specific behavior that may give rise to this type of lawsuit. Examples of potentially negligent behaviors by a funeral home include:
- Failing to ‘provide the services’ their licensure requires;
- Mishandling or abusing a corpse – wrongly cremating the remains, improperly embalming the body, selling organs or other against the wishes of their family;
- Failing to adhere to the “funeral rule” instituted by the Federal Trade Commission (essentially, demanding potential customers pay for or use services they do not need); and
- Anything else that breaches the agreed-upon contract that a funeral home enters into with their customer.
If you and your loved ones are the victims of a negligent funeral home, that negligence can come with heavy prices, be they financial, emotional, or somewhere in between. It is easy to assume that what you have been through is ‘no big deal,’ but you do have the right to try and hold a negligent business liable for the harm they have done to your family. Most cases of this nature are brought under a theory of ordinary negligence, but Florida does also recognize a cause of action for negligent infliction of emotional distress – if it can be proven successfully.
As with any other case based in negligence law, you must show certain criteria in order to prevail. The funeral home generally has a duty of care toward its customers if a contract has been signed – but it is up to you, the plaintiff, to establish that the duty was breached by the funeral home’s actions (or lack thereof). If your attorney can show that the breach of duty was a direct result of the funeral home’s conduct, and that you and your loved ones suffered tangible damages (though not necessarily physical damages), you may prevail in court. Florida law states that you can recover even if the court holds you partially responsible for your own injuries.
Call A Tampa Funeral Home Negligence
Having problems laying a loved one to rest can be utterly demoralizing, at a time when many people are already hugely vulnerable. If you have experienced this type of negligence, the Tampa wrongful burial & cremation attorneys from the Rinaldo Law Group can offer dedicated and compassionate representation in your case so your family can focus on healing. Contact our offices today for a free consultation.