Options After Experiencing Florida Funeral Home Negligence
Losing a loved one can be one of the most difficult times in a person’s life, and having to plan a funeral or other memorial service for the person can make that burden worse. Sadly, funeral homes can add to the stress even more by acting in a negligent manner after having been entrusted with your loved one’s remains. If you believe that your chosen funeral home has been negligent or reckless in handling your deceased loved one’s remains, however, you do have options with which to file suit. Money may not bring your loved one back, but it can help with practical concerns while your family is reeling.
Remains Must Be Treated With Dignity
As with the workers in any business, funeral home employees have a legal duty to abide by the terms of the contract that they have signed with your family; this means preparing and handling your loved one’s remains with dignity and all the appropriate care that a reasonable person would demand. If they fail to exercise that reasonable care, and thus cause you physical, emotional, or financial damages, then the funeral home may be on the proverbial hook for negligence, depending on their actions. They may face professional discipline, in addition to your potential lawsuit.
It is important to keep in mind that ‘negligence’ is not the same as ‘malice,’ even though negligence can lead to serious stress and trauma. Actions like putting the wrong person in the casket, mailing the wrong ashes to your family after the fact, or burying your loved one in the wrong plot are not necessarily malicious or deliberately inflicted – but are still actionable, and you still have every right to seek civil compensation for these events if you can establish that the funeral home’s actions led directly to your distress.
Types of Damages
There are generally three types of damages in any Florida personal injury case – economic, which includes tangible damages like funeral costs and medical bills incurred by the deceased before they passed; non-economic, which are more intangible damages like pain and suffering; and punitive damages, which are only awarded in cases where a defendant’s actions are intentionally reckless or malicious. In funeral home negligence cases, punitive damages would only be likely if you can establish that the funeral home’s practices were egregiously unacceptable – for example, if employees maliciously abused the corpse.
In addition to a standard negligence claim under personal injury law, Florida does allow you to bring a civil suit if your funeral home has not upheld what the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) calls the “funeral rule.” The rule protects consumers, requiring certain rights when planning a funeral – for example, consumers must be permitted to purchase only the funeral arrangements they want, to get price information over the phone, get requested information in writing (for example, written prices for caskets) before you make a decision, and contains several other safeguards. You have rights, even if it may seem like you do not.
Contact A Tampa Funeral Home Negligence Attorney
Getting the news that your funeral home has been negligent or reckless while you are trying to come to terms with the loss of a loved one can feel like far too much to bear. If you are in this situation, the Tampa wrongful burial & cremation attorneys at the Rinaldo Law Group may be able to assist. We can offer knowledgeable and dedicated representation at this incredibly trying time. Call our offices today for a free consultation.