Phoenix Wrongful Death attorneys know that the people who need their help are experiencing one of the most traumatic and devastating events of their lives. It’s always terrible to lose a loved one, but when the people to whom you’ve entrusted the memory of the recently departed abuse your trust, it’s especially outrageous and disgraceful. People responsible for handling and properly disposing of human remains have a responsibility to treat the remains in their charge with respect and most of them do. But if you have the misfortune to be one of those rare, awful cases where a loved one’s earthly remains are mistreated, a Phoenix Wrongful Death attorney can help you get justice.
Arizona law recognizes criminal, administrative, and civil penalties for misconduct by funeral directors, embalmers, and others with the reponsibility for handling dead bodies. Mutilating a body is considered a felony, as is stealing a body or disinterring a body without permission. Arizona law also prohibits a wide range of practices as misdemeanors, such as re-using a casket which previously held a dead body or moving a body from one resting place to another without permission. If you believe the remains of your loved one have been mistreated in a way that rises to criminal conduct, you may wish to ask the police to investigate. Doing so does not preclude you from pursuing any lawsuit you might later decide to file and may provide valuable evidence that a Phoenix Wrongful Death lawyer can use to prove your case.
Funeral directors and embalmers are regulated by the State Board of Funeral Directors and Embalmers, which is empowered to order those with responsibility for handling human remains to stop any unlawful or unprofessional conduct. The Board accepts complaints from the public and once one is received, the Board is required to ensure that the misconduct stops immediately. If the misconduct continues, the Board is required to go to court to obtain an order compelling any licensed handler to comply with the legal and professional standards for handling human remains. While members of the general public are not required to seek legal counsel to complain to the Board, getting advice and assistance from a professional Phoenix Wrongful Death lawyer can be a great help.
In addition to criminal penalties and administrative actions, it is also possible to recover monetary damages directly from a negligent funeral home or individual with responsibility for handling human remains. In legal terms, the pain and suffering that you feel when you learn that your loved one’s remains have been treated with disrespect is called negligent infliction of emotional distress.
Typically, to prevail on a claim of negligent infliction of emotional distress, a plaintiff must prove, among other things, that their emotional pain resulted in some kind of physical injury. In cases of interference with dead bodies, however, this is not required. What a plaintiff must prove is that someone either intentionally or negligently removed, withheld, mutilated, or otherwise prevented the proper disposal of human remains. A person who has done this is liable to the person or persons who have the right to dispose of the body. This will usually be the deceased’s next of kin. A Phoenix Wrongful Death attorney can explain the law in more detail and evaluate your particular case.
Losing a loved one is always a very difficult time emotionally, and it can be hard to pursue a case while still dealing with all the fallout from their death. This is why it can be very helpful to have the guidance of an Arizona wrongful death lawyer with extensive experience in these situations to ensure that the guilty parties are made to pay and the harm does not occur again.
To speak with a professional attorney who specializes in funeral home misconduct, call Zachar Law Firm at (602) 494-4800 or visit www.zacharassociates.com.