No matter what the occupation, all professionals are required by law to ensure that their work meets certain standards that are established by laws or by customs in the practice.
Under Illinois law, Chicago professional malpractice cases may arise when the professional (who is under a duty to act), or a subordinate acting at the direction of the professional, fails to follow the standards to which he or she must comply, and the breach of that duty causes injury to another person. Essentially, if the professional is careless or negligent in the work they do, and that negligence has a damaging impact on someone else’s life, the victim is entitled to seek financial redress.
That’s exactly what might happen in a number of recent situations involving a Chicago funeral home; though the most-direct victims are already dead, the families of the deceased may have cause to bring Illinois professional malpractice claims based on the emotional distress they endured as a result of the funeral home mishandling the bodies of their loved ones.
Professional liability can take almost as many forms as there are professions; an undertrained stockbroker whose decisions led to financial disaster for his client may be guilty of professional malpractice. So might an architect whose flawed plans resulted in a faulty structure. Insurance broker malpractice represents yet another type of professional liability when individuals learn they do not have the coverage they purchased. In this case, the owner of Carter Funeral Chapels on Chicago’s South Shore may be held legally responsible based on the lack of care to the nine bodies that were inside being prepared, at the time authorities searched the funeral home Monday night.
According to the Chicago Tribune, officials cited the owner for “failure to provide adequate shelter, protection, care and disposition of deceased human remains,” stemming from a number of problems including the fact that the building had no electricity or heat.
Police officers realized these issues when they went to the funeral home after receiving a call about a suspicious person in a car outside the building, reported the Chicago Tribune.
At this point, all of the bodies have been removed and taken to other funeral homes. Nevertheless, the owner and operator of the funeral home may be liable for professional malpractice in the way that he treated the deceased. In fact, this is not the first time he has been in trouble for the way he conducted business. According to the Chicago Tribune, he is a party to a lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission last July, in which federal authorities allege Carter Funeral Chapels violated regulations by not providing clients with an itemized list of services. Additionally, State records say that his license was suspended indefinitely in October 2008 “due to violation of regulations, untrustworthiness, embalming without prior consent and unprofessional conduct,” and that he was disciplined by the state in 1999 for practicing with a non-renewed license and failing to take continuing education classes to keep his license current.
The families of the decedents that were entrusted to the funeral home may be able to make claims for damages based on the tort of negligent infliction of emotional distress. Under Illinois law, people have a legal duty to use reasonable care to avoid causing emotional distress to other people. If an individual or business fails in this duty and unreasonably causes emotional distress to another person, that actor may be made to pay damages to the injured individual. In this situation, if the families can show that they have endured emotional harm based on the funeral home owner’s professional malpractice, they may have the basis for an Illinois personal injury lawsuit.
If you’ve suffered an injury of this type that you believe may be a result the negligence of another person, you may be able to file a lawsuit to recover the costs involved to pay for any emotional distress you have suffered. A personal injury attorney will be able to advise you of your rights under the law.