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DeathDealings with a cemetery are rarely positive ones. Unfortunately, it’s also highly likely that if a cemetery doesn’t take its responsibilities seriously, it could cause serious trauma to a deceased person’s loved ones. When a cemetery’s negligence or carelessness is so egregious as to cause severe emotional trauma, a lawsuit may be necessary for the injured party to receive fair compensation. The plaintiff should seek a civil attorney who is experienced and knowledgeable in California tort law. 

Injury On Cemetery Grounds

While it’s obviously best to exercise extra care when walking in a cemetery, the cemetery is still expected to be maintained to a certain standard for safety reasons. For example, suppose the person responsible for a cemetery’s maintenance knew of a dangerous condition, or a dangerous condition existed for such a time that the groundskeeper or owner should have discovered it. In that case, they could be liable for any injuries incurred by visitors due to that dangerous condition. 

Cemetery Mistakes And Negligence

Because cemeteries are for grieving people to bury and mourn their loved ones, negligence on a cemetery’s part can be especially traumatic. While uncommon, some people have suffered the compounded tragedy of having a loved one’s remains damaged, lost, or handled in a way that conflicts with the deceased’s religious beliefs. For example, a cemetery may mistakenly switch burial plots for two deceased people, leaving them to spend the rest of eternity next to the incorrect spouse. 

Intentional Infliction Of Emotional Distress

In California, to sue for intentional infliction of emotional distress, the plaintiff must have experienced severe emotional distress due to the defendant’s outrageous conduct. In terms of emotional distress, outrageous conduct may mean abusing a position of power, taking advantage of the plaintiff’s known weaknesses and vulnerabilities, or clearly knowing that their actions would cause severe emotional distress. A defendant can even be found liable for intentional infliction of emotional distress if they acted with reckless disregard for the risk of causing emotional distress. There is a notion that a plaintiff should have physical injuries to be eligible to collect intentional infliction of emotional distress damages, but a physical injury isn’t necessary in California. Generally, the statute of limitations or time limit to file a lawsuit, for intentional infliction of emotional distress claims in California is two years from the date of the incident. 

Negligent Infliction Of Emotional Distress

If the defendant has caused severe emotional distress but doesn’t quite meet the required intent or maliciousness necessary for intentional infliction of emotional distress, then negligent infliction of emotional distress may be available. Plaintiffs can bring a negligence claim with negligent infliction of emotional distress as one of the damages if the defendant’s conduct caused them emotional distress, or the plaintiff witnessed conduct by the defendant that caused injury to a close relative. The defendant has a higher duty of care to direct plaintiffs than bystander plaintiffs. 

For a bystander claim, the party injured by the defendant’s conduct must be the plaintiff’s close relative. Under California law, close relatives include a spouse, registered domestic partner, relative housemate, parent, sibling, child, and grandchild. The defendant’s negligent conduct must have caused serious injury or death to a close relative. In addition, the plaintiff must have been aware of the injury while it occurred and been in the “danger zone” of the incident. That means the plaintiff must have been physically close enough to actually sense the event rather than hearing about it later or seeing it over a video call.

Law Offices of Samer Habbas & Associates can clarify your legal options. To schedule your initial case consultation, call 888-848-5084 or visit our website today.

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