trial and civil litigation

Portland Funeral Home Abuse Attorney

When you lose a loved one, you are not only in a difficult emotional state, but there are also a lot of decisions that need to be made in a short amount of time. It can be even more stressful if your loved one had not made prior arrangements for their funeral. But, even if there are directions and plans laid out, you still have a lot to do. Fortunately, whatever funeral home you choose will shoulder much of the responsibilities and help guide you through the process. Unfortunately, not every funeral home in the Portland area is always reliable and many can make negligent mistakes or engage in intentional misconduct that can cause you and your family pain and suffering.

If you believe that your family has been the victim of funeral home abuse, you need an experienced attorney to evaluate your situation as soon as possible. Call the Johnston Law Firm for assistance.

What Constitutes Abuse in Funeral Homes?

Many people have never even heard of a legal action for funeral home abuse. If it happens to you, you may not identify that abuse occurred right away – you may simply have a feeling that something is not right. It is important to know what is considered to be abuse or neglect under the law so that you can recognize it if it occurs.

The following are only some examples of the allegations in funeral home abuse claims:

  • Charging your family an unreasonable amount for the services provided;
  • Adding unexpected fees and costs to your bill at the last minute or after services are complete;
  • Misusing any prepaid funds for things other than your loved one’s funeral;
  • Mistreating the remains of your loved one;
  • Improper cremation, storage, or embalming methods;
  • Losing remains or having the wrong body on display in a casket;
  • Not following through on promised services;
  • Any other unethical or unprofessional behavior toward your loved one or your family;
  • Any breach of contract that you or your loved one signed with the funeral home.
  • Not following through on promised services;

Filing a Complaint for Funeral Home Abuse

You may come into our office alleging that the funeral home charged you too much money, did not fulfill their promises, or acted in a hurtful and unacceptable manner. However, you cannot simply write a letter to the court explaining how you were treated and expect for a case to be properly initiated. Instead, you must identify which legal principles and laws are involved in your specific situation and provide sufficient information to support your claims.

For example, you must specifically allege that the funeral home either negligently or intentionally mistreated you, so you must be able to identify which is true. If the funeral home was negligent, you will need to make assertions that satisfy every element of legal negligence, which is complex. If you believe you were intentionally mistreated, you will need to provide evidence of the funeral director’s or staff’s mental state and intent, which is challenging. For these reasons, it is important and necessary to seek help from an attorney with your funeral home abuse case.

What to Do if You Suspect Abuse Occurred

While your attorney is the one who will be drafting the complaint to file with the court, there are many steps you can take to protect your rights and improve the chances of a favorable result of your case. For example:

  • Keep every record, receipt, and contract signed involving the funeral home;
  • Keep a log of every time you called the funeral home and whether you spoke to someone;
  • Write down conversations you had with the funeral home in as much detail as possible – it is usually best to do this as soon after the conversation as possible;
  • Write down every incident that occurred;
  • Have anyone else who witnessed bad behavior write down their version of what they saw or heard;
  • Keep track of your emotions and how the acts of the funeral home affected you.

All of this can increase your chances of obtaining compensation for the financial losses you suffered at the hands of the funeral home and possibly for emotional distress in certain cases.

Cases against funeral homes can be complicated and you need an attorney with the experience necessary to stand up for your family and for the dignity of your loved one. Please call the Johnston Law Firm at (503) 546-3167 for help today.

Marc Johnston
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