The loss of a loved one is one of the most personal and intimate experiences we go through in life. We cope with the loss of our loved ones with funerals that allow us to say our final goodbyes to our loved ones with respect and honor. What happens to the decedent’s remains is an essential part of respecting his or her life. Unfortunately, there are cases in which the mortuary, crematorium, or cemetery mishandles human remains.
Discuss Your Case With an Experienced Funeral Law Attorney
Learning that your loved one’s remains have been mishandled can be devastating. In some cases, the perpetrator acted negligently. In other cases, the perpetrator deliberately mishandled remains, influenced by fraud or greed. If your loved one’s remains have been mishandled, you need an experienced funeral law attorney on your side. At Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA, we understand how devastating these cases will be and advocate strongly for the surviving family members to recover the justice they deserve.
We Represent Clients in Cases Involving the Mishandling of Human Remains
Deceased individuals deserve to be cared for as they desired after their deaths. Some wish to be cremated and have their ashes scattered near a place with memories. Others want to be buried and laid to rest beside their spouse. Respecting the deceased and providing sympathy for their family unites us all. We feel a righteous sense of anger when we learn about unimaginable neglect in handling our loved ones’ remains.
At Willcox, Buyck & Williams, PA, we understand that mishandling of human remains is an emotional and heart-wrenching issue, and that’s why we advocate so strongly to achieve justice and compensation for families who’ve been wronged in this way. When you work with our law firm, we will carefully listen to the facts of your case.
The South Carolina Funeral Industry Is Rife With Unscrupulous Behavior
In 2018, the family of a South Carolina woman who passed away suffered the indignity of a funeral home mishandling her human remains. Over 100 people showed up to pay their respects to her in a rural Greenwood Church. Her remains were not in the urn, however. Instead, they stashed her body in an unrefrigerated, locked storage room at a funeral home that her family hired to handle the arrangements. Her family had paid to have her cremated, and instead, she was left to rot.
Unfortunately, this case isn’t an isolated incident. Over the past decade, over 70 South Carolina funeral facilities and directors have been disciplined. Additionally, there have been hundreds of other complaints about the mishandling of human remains. Nearly 40 percent of the 600 complaints filed against funeral homes between 2006 and 2017 were dismissed with no action taken. In many cases, families of the deceased won’t see justice unless they work with a personal injury lawyer to file a lawsuit against the liable company or person.
Examples of Mishandling of Human Remains Cases
When a mortuary agrees to provide your deceased loved one services, the mortuary creates a special relationship with you. That special relationship creates specific legal duties on the part of the mortuary. The mortuary must perform all funeral-related services in a respectful and dignified manner that the bereaved family members expect of a mortuary or crematory. Funeral negligence falls under one of the following categories:
- mishandling of human remains
- embalming errors
- cremation errors
- theft and fraud
- cemetery negligence
When mortuaries and funeral homes breach their duty to act reasonably when providing funeral services, surviving family members can hold them liable through a personal injury lawsuit. Unfortunately, there are many different ways mortuaries can mishandle deceased individuals’ remains, including the following:
- pulling the gold from decedent’s teeth with pliers, and ask known as “popping chops”
- removing the eyes, hearts, corneas, brains, or other body parts and selling them
- cremating the bodies of numerous individuals together and placing them all in a large drum to be distributed to bereaved families
- using improper embalming techniques that cause premature decomposition
- not refrigerating the body immediately after death, leading to rapid decomposition
- not disposing of the decedent’s body in a manner authorized by loved ones
- holding a deceased person’s ashes hostage until the customer pays a bill
- putting the organs from one deceased individual into the body bag of another individual
- cremating a body instead of burying it or vice versa
- burying a body in the wrong plot
Proving Liability in a Mishandling of Human Remains Case
Our sympathetic lawyers will investigate your case and gather evidence against the funeral home, moratorium, or cemetery that mishandled your loved one’s remains. Unfortunately, funeral establishments have been known to cover up their negligence or fraudulent behavior to protect themselves from criminal prosecution and/or a civil lawsuit against them. Our legal team knows how to gather evidence proving funeral negligence occurred on behalf of our clients
After a thorough investigation, we will begin negotiating with the defendant to obtain a fair settlement amount for our clients. If the defendant does not agree to a fair settlement amount, we will take the case to trial. Our trial-ready lawyers know how to advocate for clients in front of a judge effectively. We will use the evidence we gathered and compelling legal arguments in court.
How Our Funeral Negligence Attorneys Can Get the Compensation You Deserve
If your family has suffered the added pain of the mishandling of your loved one’s remains, our attorneys are prepared to fight for your right to substantial compensation. Successful funeral negligence plaintiffs are entitled to financial reimbursement for goods and services, including caskets or urns, burial, cremation, embalming costs, and funeral costs. Plaintiffs are also entitled to compensation for their ongoing emotional trauma, pain, and suffering. Contact us today to schedule your free initial consultation.