When funeral homes are negligent in their duties, family members may seek compensation for financial and emotional distress through a civil lawsuit.
Funeral Home Negligence
In Nevada, funeral homes are regulated by the Nevada Board of Funeral & Cemetery Services. Their duties include burials of deceased individuals, as well as services related to storage of remains, burial preparation, cremation, and advice on statutory requirements to families of deceased individuals.
Reports show a variety of disturbing behaviors caused by negligent actions and intentional abuse in funeral homes across the country. Reported incidents include:
- Improper storage of deceased remains
- Storing bodies of people who were supposed to be cremated
- Burying people in the wrong plot
- Mixing ashes during cremation
- Intentionally covering up mistakes and lying to family members
- Intentional abuse to corpses
In a recent Nevada case, a woman filed a lawsuit against a Las Vegas funeral home, Heritage Mortuary, for an incorrect death certificate for her husband’s cremation. The woman received her husband’s death certificate from the mortuary in October 2017, but the date of death was shown as June 30, 2017, and her husband’s ashes were not received until November 2017. At this point, there was no way to tell if the ashes actually belonged to her husband. The women filed a civil lawsuit with a Nevada personal injury lawyer seeking damages in excess of $15,000 for emotional and financial distress.
In Alabama, a lawsuit was filed against another Heritage Mortuary in Mobile. The lawsuit alleges that a client’s body was not properly embalmed and the casket was not properly sealed. To make matters worse, two men who worked at the mortuary were charged with three counts of intentional abuse of a corpse.
Funeral homes operate as businesses, so clients sign contracts for funeral services. Most contracts contain liability waivers for problems that may occur during the mortuary process. For example, a contract for cremation services may specify that the funeral home is not responsible for a deceased person’s jewelry or personal belongings on the body prior to cremation. Family members must read contracts carefully and understand the funeral home’s obligations. In cases of gross negligence or intentional misconduct, a personal injury lawyer can review the contract, determine liabilities, and file a civil lawsuit for egregious actions.