South Bend / Mishawaka, IN – The death of a loved one is certainly one of life’s most difficult events. In addition to attending to our emotional grief at the loss of our loved one, we are also left with little choice but to entrust our loved one’s remains to complete strangers, trusting completely that the remains will be accorded with dignity, respect, and competence. It is a trust readily given but a trust for which there is no room for error.
The vast majority of experiences with funeral homes are not problematic. Funeral homes, and their staff, are able to provide the necessary comfort and services to the deceased’s family and friends. But what happens when a funeral home breaches its fiduciary duties to your or your family? Thankfully, you do not need to sit silently while the memory of a loved one is tarnished. Funeral homes may be held accountable for their actions.
A funeral home’s negligence and breach of trust can lead to a multitude of claims. First and foremost, a relationship with a funeral home is contractual in nature. By that, I mean you have agreed to pay a sum of money (in most cases, a very hefty sum of money) to the funeral home in exchange for their provision of services and products. Accordingly, when the funeral home fails to appropriately live up to its end of the bargain, you may have the right to pursue breach of contract to recover some or all of the money paid to the funeral home.
Sometimes, however, the professional negligence of a funeral home rises to a level where simple breach of contract damages are insufficient to adequately compensate a family for the turmoil caused by the negligence. Accordingly, when dealing with the remains of a loved one, the law recognizes the right to pursue damages for actual emotional distress caused by certain negligent or intentional actions of a funeral home.
If the funeral home’s negligence encompasses mishandling or theft of your loved one’s possessions, you may pursue civil damages that may include three times’ the value of the missing property.
Over the years, I have taken pride in being able to assist clients with issues that have arisen with funeral home companies. If you, or your family, have been forced to endure professional negligence on the part of a funeral home, we would be happy to discuss your rights and options with you.
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