Learning that your deceased loved one has been the victim of an embalming error is devastating. After a loved one dies, we take comfort in providing them with a dignified and respectful burial. Improper embalming of a body can cause grotesque disfigurement and excessive decomposition, primarily if an unlicensed person performs the embalming. In some cases, embalming errors require the family to cremate their decomposed loved one, denying them the opportunity to view their loved one.
Discuss Your Lawsuit WIth a South Carolina Lawyer
The lawyers at Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA, have successfully held funeral homes legally accountable for their actions in funeral negligence cases, including embalming errors. If your loved one experienced an embalming error after he or she passed away, we will provide you with excellent legal representation. We will advocate strongly and do everything possible to bring the responsible party to justice. Don’t suffer alone. Contact us today to discuss your case with an attorney.
Types of Embalming Errors
Many families chose to hire a professional to embalm their loved ones. The process of embalming a loved one allows the family to have an open casket at the funeral. Embalming slows down the body’s decomposition so that the funeral can be delayed for several days. It also allows cosmetic work to be done on the corpse. This process makes the dead body look more like they were when they were alive for a short period.
Having a funeral service with an open casket allows people to see their loved ones a final time and say goodbye. Embalming professionals have a duty to treat the deceased person’s body with respect and reasonably perform the embalming. There are various types of embalming errors that can cause devastating consequences.
Untrained Professionals Can Result in Embalming Errors
In some cases, a funeral home may not tell the families that they send their loved ones to an off-site facility for mass embalming processing. In other cases, one company is in charge of multiple funeral homes. The owners may not hire enough staff, putting one funeral director in charge of numerous mortuaries. The managers may oversee the embalming process. Even though the managers may have the proper credentials, the staff who perform the embalming may be unlicensed and inexperienced at embalming.
Without significant regulatory oversight, staff may be expected to perform double the amount of embalming work as they ordinarily would. High-volume processes can lead to sloppy or even illegal practices. An apprentice embalmer may have been told to work without any supervision, or untrained workers, including cemetery staff, may help prepare the body. In these types of situations, the following embalming errors can occur:
- Improperly insert embalming fluid
- Delaying embalming, resulting in the body decomposing rapidly
- Failure to place a body in a freezer to preserve it
- Using the wrong concentration of embalming fluid
- An embalmer may treat the incorrect body due to incorrect labeling
- An apprentice works unsupervised, causing damage to the body
- An embalmer fails to handle the body in a dignified way, resulting in decomposition
- The embalmer fails to properly wash the body
- The embalmer puts another person’s clothes on the body
- An embalmer works too quickly, resulting in the body locking into place
- An embalmer steals jewelry from the deceased individual
- Accidentally cremating a body that should have been embalmed
- The embalming isn’t performed in time for the funeral
The Devastating Consequences of an Embalming Error
When embalming professionals do not use reasonable care, the consequences can be devastating and substantial. Although embalming errors typically aren’t intentional, they are still devastating. Embalming errors are particularly devastating because they steal a family’s ability to say a final goodbye with an open casket. Many families are unaware of the embalming errors until they arrive for their loved one’s funeral.
When they walk up to the casket to say their last goodbyes, they are shocked to see that their loved one doesn’t look like himself or herself and has rapidly decomposed. The loved ones suffer tremendous shock when they should be grieving together and remembering their loved one’s life. Many victims suffer ongoing mental anguish when they remember their experience at the funeral. Improper balming can result in the following circumstances:
- Disfigurement of the body
- The body becomes unrecognizable
- Insufficient preservation
- Closed casket funeral services
- The need to cremate the body
Recovering Compensation Due to an Embalming Error
Under South Carolina law, surviving family members have a right to file a lawsuit against the company or person who made the embalming error. As a plaintiff in a lawsuit, the family will need to prove that the funeral home or embalming professional had a duty to provide adequate services and committed an error that breached that duty. They will also need to prove that the breach of duty caused harm to them and the body of their deceased loved one.
When dealing with embalming negligence, the financial and emotional factors must be considered when awarding a victim’s compensation. In addition to suffering grief over knowing that your loved one’s body has been mishandled, embalming errors can also cause financial difficulties. For example, if you’ve already paid for the embalming but need to pay someone to cremate your loved one, you can request compensation for these additional expenses. If you have experienced an embalming error, you may be entitled to the following types of compensation:
- Pain and suffering
- Emotional and psychological distress
- Financial losses
In some cases, when the funeral home or embalming professional has acted egregiously, you may be entitled to additional punitive damages. South Carolina courts will award punitive damages when the funeral home acted maliciously.
Contact An Experienced Embalming Error Lawyer Today
The final goodbye is an integral part of the grieving process. When a funeral home has been negligent with your loved one’s body due to an embalming error, you may be entitled to compensation. If you think your loved one has been the victim of an embalming error, you need an experienced lawyer on your side. Contact Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA, today to schedule your free initial consultation and learn more about our legal services.