The loss of a loved one is possibly the most traumatic experience many of us will face in our lifetime. In cases where funeral arrangements haven’t been planned in advance, difficult and expensive decisions must be made quickly. Unfortunately, though most Oregon funeral homes are reputable, Portland funeral home abuse attorneys know that vulnerable people have been abused by some unscrupulous operators.
What constitutes funeral home abuse or cemetery neglect?
Complaints fall into a number of categories. Some can be dealt with by going directly to the funeral home operator, without taking legal action. If that doesn’t work, then the following are certainly grounds for filing a complaint:
- Unreasonable or unexpected cost is a major grounds for complaint. For example, you’ve selected a casket that’s quoted on the price list at $600, but the funeral director says nothing below $2,000 is available.
- Unethical or unprofessional conduct occurs when a family is told, for example, that they must have the body embalmed, even for a private family funeral. Another example would be the funeral director criticising your choice of casket as being unsuitable.
- If the funeral home fails to send the obituary to the appropriate media outlets and no one attends the funeral, they have been guilty of negligence.
- Breach of contract is not uncommon. The marker you ordered for the grave may not have been delivered even months after the funeral, or the funeral home added expenses that weren’t agreed to your bill, and is threatening legal action if you don’t pay.
- Mistreatment of the remains
- Misuse of pre-paid funeral funds
Portland funeral home abuse attorneys are frequently called upon when a complainant didn’t word their initial complaint properly. For someone to file a lawsuit against a funeral home, it will be necessary to identify which Oregon statutes or regulations have been violated. Simply saying the funeral was too expensive, or that the funeral home did a terrible job, while true, will not be sufficient in court.
In Oregon, like many other states, very little training is required to become a funeral director. Only when regulatory agencies become aware of consistent abuses within a particular industry do they tend to insist on higher levels of education and standards for practicioners within that industry. By filing a complaint, you could not only be getting justice for you and your family, but you may also be saving someone else from going through a similar experience in the future.
How To Start Your Lawsuit Against the Funeral Home
From the moment you suspect your rights have been abused by a funeral home, start writing everything down. Record details of conversations and incidents as soon as possible after they’ve occurred. If someone else witnessed what happened or heard what was said, ask them to write it down, too. Keep exact details of dates and times. These will be very helpful in establishing the validity of your claim.
Honestly, what is the likely outcome?
This depends on what you expect to happen. If you’re hoping the entire cost of a $10,000 funeral will be scrapped because you were unhappy with the look of the handles on the coffin, it’s likely you’ll be disappointed – you will expected to show blatant neglect. Portland funeral home abuse attorneys will advise you: the most probable outcome when a valid case has been filed is a refund or reduction in the cost of the funeral, though sometimes damages awarded for pain and suffering can be recovered as well, which can be a significant amount of money.
Funeral home directors may also be ordered to issue an apology; they can be reprimanded, fined and in extreme cases of embezzlement or coercion, their license to practice may be revoked. The court may also order the funeral director to receive additional training.
Dealing with organising and paying for a funeral, in addition to the extreme trauma of losing a family member, are enough to strain any individual to breaking point. For a funeral home to compound the pain and suffering of the spouse, siblings or parents of the deceased through unprofessional conduct or gross negligence seems unforgiveable. If you feel you’ve been a victim of excessive pricing, breach of contract or unethical behavior, try to keep precise records and details of what’s gone wrong. Then contact a reputable Portland funeral home abuse attorney for help.