What Can You Do If a Texas Funeral Home Acts Negligently?
Mourning a loved one can be an exhausting process, both emotionally and financially. Loved ones are left with a long list of to-do items, including making funeral arrangements and distributing property. Any slip-ups relating to funeral operations can be tragic and make the process even more stressful.
Unfortunately, these tragedies do happen. If you are local to San Antonio, you may have heard about an lengthy case involving a missing corpse that just recently ended.
A young woman’s body went missing from the Mission Park North Funeral Chapel North in August 2015. The case was settled earlier this year, and the deceased woman’s parents were awarded $8 million.
This was a case of funeral home negligence. If you have gone through a situation involving negligence with a funeral home, you may be able to receive compensation.
What Is Texas Funeral Home Negligence?
Funeral homes have the responsibility of properly preparing and maintaining bodies for their customers. Any mishandling can be costly or distressing, and may be grounds for a mortuary negligence lawsuit.
Mortuary negligence falls into a broad category of personal injury claims that victims can pursue if the actions of another led them to suffer damages.
Examples of funeral home or mortuary negligence include:
- Misplacing the body
- Treating the wrong body or sending the wrong body to families
- Burying multiple bodies in a single plot
- Harvesting and selling organs
- Cremating corpses that were not supposed to be cremated
If the funeral home intentionally acted against the law, you may even be able to press criminal charges. In most cases of funeral home negligence, however, victims solely seek financial compensation. Compensation may be awarded even if the employees or owners of the funeral home did not have the intention to mishandle the corpse in question.
When You Can Receive Compensation for Funeral Home Negligence
Each state handles funeral home negligence differently, so it is important to reach out to a lawyer to learn more about your options for filing a lawsuit. Typically, in order to win a funeral home negligence cases, you will have to provide evidence of the following elements:
This is similar to other negligence and personal injury cases. In regards to damages, you have different options for receiving compensation. If the breach of duty directly caused you financial damages (paying the funeral home, hiring a lawyer, etc.) you may be able to include those costs and the value of future related costs in the compensation that you are seeking. If the negligence directly caused emotional distress, the value of that distress may also be included.
Texas Funeral Home Negligence Claims: Your Next Steps
Once you have determined that you may be the victim of funeral home negligence, you need to pay careful attention to your case. Talk to a lawyer about contacting the funeral home in question, and your options for moving forward with a civil suit. In the meantime, start to collect the following information:
- Proof of costs related to the negligence, including appointments with therapists
- Proof of communications with the funeral home
- Contact information of witnesses who can testify to negligence
- Any other information that could help you prove that negligence occurred
The couple in San Antonio were never able to recover the body of their daughter, but they were able to receive compensation for distress and damages related to losing her body. A funeral home negligence case can help you find a similar type of closure after the mishandling of your loved one’s body.
About the Author:
After getting his Juris Doctor from the University of Houston Law Center, Jeff Hampton began practicing law in Texas in 2005. Before joining the Fulgham Hampton Law Group, he worked as a prosecutor for the Tarrant County District Attorney’s Office – experience he uses to anticipate and cast doubt on the arguments that will be used against his clients. Over the course of his career, he has helped countless Texans protect their rights and get the best possible outcome in their cases. His skill has earned him recognition from the National Trial Lawyers (Top 100 Trial Lawyers) and Avvo (Top Attorney, 10/10 Superb Rating), and he is Lead Counsel rated.