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How to Calculate Funeral Expenses After a Wrongful Death

Wrongful DeathIf you have lost a loved one due to wrongful death, you may be eligible for a settlement. Compensation may include expenses for your loved one’s final medical bills, pain and suffering, and funeral costs. You may also be eligible for compensation due to loss of companionship, lost wages, and other direct and indirect expenses you have suffered due to your loved one’s death.

To help you understand more about the settlement process in a wrongful death lawsuit, look at the following breakdown of what to expect in relation to funeral expenses after a wrongful death.

The Cost of a Funeral

According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), the average cost of a funeral in 2017 was almost $9,000. That number represents about a $250 increase over costs three years earlier, and every year, these numbers continue to climb. These costs include a ceremony, a viewing, and the burial, but depending on what you decide to do for the funeral, the costs can vary greatly.

For instance, direct cremation can cost $2000 or less, but this option doesn’t involve a ceremony or a viewing which many people find essential for their grieving process. You can also spend more than $9,000 if you choose an ornate casket, hold a large reception, or opt for other additional ways to memorialize your loved one.

Funeral Expenses Covered in Wrongful Death Suits

As indicated above, you can claim funeral expenses when you bring forward a wrongful death lawsuit. Most states stipulate, however, that you can only sue for reasonable expenses, and some states even list the covered expenses in their statutes. Although the rules vary, the following costs usually are considered reasonable:

  • Preparing the body (embalming, washing, dressing, etc.)
  • Costs related to viewing the body
  • Funeral ceremony
  • Hearse or other transportation costs
  • Casket or alternative container
  • Burial or cremation
  • Urn
  • Tombstone
  • Burial plot or space in mausoleum or columbarium

However, funerals often include many more expenses than those detailed above. When calculating the cost of a funeral after a wrongful death, you may want to include costs related to a funeral reception or airline tickets if your family lives far away.

Because “reasonable expenses” is a subjective concept, it’s important to work with an experienced wrongful death attorney. They can contend that you should be compensated for all costs associated with your loved one’s funeral. You may be limited, in some cases, to receiving the state median funeral cost in compensation. Talk with your attorney so that you know what to expect.

Paying for a Funeral After a Wrongful Death

Although funeral costs are generally included in wrongful death settlements, in most cases, you won’t receive the settlement for a while after the death. The timeline can vary dramatically depending on when the wrongful death suit is brought forward, the elements of your case, whether you and the defendant agree to a settlement, and other factors. Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon for survivors to receive the compensation a year or more after the death.

As a result, you may end up paying for the funeral before you recoup its costs. In situations where you cannot afford to pay for a funeral, you may need to turn to crowdfunding or apply for government assistance. The Social Security Administration also offers a one-time death benefit to widow(er)s or qualifying survivors of $255, which can help to offset a small amount of the costs.

To be safe, you may want to opt to keep funeral costs under the state median. Be aware that you are not guaranteed to win a wrongful death settlement until the final verdict is issued. You may want to ensure that you can afford the funeral costs when you incur them. In all cases, make sure to keep all the receipts and records from all related expenses to provide your wrongful death attorney.

Getting Help with Wrongful Death Cases

If your loved one has died as a result of negligence, you may be entitled to a wrongful death settlement. To learn more, contact us at Mazow | McCullough, PC today. We offer our sincere condolences on the death of your loved one. Although we can never undo the tragedy you suffered, we pledge to work diligently to pursue justice for your loved one.

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