How Will I Pay for a Funeral after a Wrongful Death?

Categories: Personal Injury

After the wrongful death of a loved one, you may find yourself facing the insurmountable costs of a funeral. You can receive compensation for funeral and burial costs, but only if you file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party.

Losing a loved one unexpectedly is not only the most difficult emotional experience you can have, it is also financially strenuous. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the average cost of a funeral in 2017 was $7,360 without a vault. If you are like most Americans, the chance of you having that amount in your savings account is unlikely.

Furthermore, when a loved one dies because of someone’s negligence or purposeful acts, you should not shoulder the financial burden of burying your loved one. You can receive compensation for your funeral and burial costs so that you are not paying $7,000 or more to bury your loved one.

What Funeral Expenses Can You Claim in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

If you choose to file a wrongful death lawsuit, it is best to speak with a wrongful death attorney. These cases are highly complex, and the laws in Washington are very strict as to who can file the lawsuit and what compensation you can receive.

You and your loved ones can receive compensation for a fair market value on any funeral and burial costs, including:

  • Renting a hearse and other transportation arrangements made for the funeral service.
  • The cost of the casket and tombstone.
  • The cost of the death certificate and copies required.
  • The rental fees for the funeral home or cemetery rental to hold a funeral service.
  • The cost of all funeral and burial services.
  • The cost of any cremation services or plots in a graveyard.

How Quickly Will I Receive Funds for a Funeral?

Unfortunately, your compensation is tied to the outcome of your wrongful death case; therefore, you will not receive compensation for funeral and burial expenses immediately. That said, you can typically get financing through the funeral home, and sometimes funeral homes will prolong payment if you have a pending wrongful death lawsuit.

You may need to use other funds to pay for the service while you wait for your wrongful death lawsuit to finalize.

Do Not Accept a Settlement Just because You Need Money

Insurance companies will contact you quickly after the death of a loved one. They know that you are grieving, and they know that you are overwhelmed financially. They use this as an opportunity to get you to agree to less than you deserve for compensation. They may even bring up the cost of the funeral, offering compensation immediately for that service.

While it is tempting, know that the first offer is not the last – and definitely not the amount you deserve. Instead, direct the insurance company to your attorney handling the wrongful death lawsuit, and only settle if your attorney says you are receiving a fair offer.

Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Washington

A representative of the estate must file on behalf of the estate. This can be a third party, the estate’s executor, or a spouse. As the representative, this party will file a wrongful death lawsuit against the at-fault party for the death. Compensation will then go to the estate, which includes the estate’s beneficiaries.

You have up to two years from the date of your loved one’s death to file, but you should not wait that long. The longer you wait to claim your compensation, the harder it may be to get the compensation you deserve.

How to Succeed in a Wrongful Death Case

As stated before, wrongful death cases are incredibly complex, and you want to get the compensation you and your loved ones deserve. To do that, you must:

  • Work with an experienced attorney. First, contact an attorney that handles wrongful death cases. Not all attorneys have experience in wrongful death claims, and some only handle just a few per year. You want a law firm with a team of attorneys that have extensive knowledge about wrongful death laws and handle numerous cases each year.
  • Prove that the party responsible for your loved one’s death owed a duty of care. You must prove that the person responsible owed a duty of care to your loved one to not cause them harm. For example, a person operating a motor vehicle has a duty to not drive while intoxicated.
  • Show that the at-fault party breached his or her duty. Using the same example, if an intoxicated driver gets behind the wheel and causes a fatal accident, they breached that duty to drive safely and not while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Prove that the breach of duty was the direct cause of your loved one’s death. You must prove that the breach of duty was the direct cause of your loved one’s death. If your loved one was a victim in that DUI accident, that would be proof that the breach caused their death.
  • Show the court that you have suffered damages. After a wrongful death, you will have damages, but you must prove that those damages stem from the loss of your loved one. These can include medical costs, funeral and burial expenses, pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and even loss of income.

Speak with an Attorney Today That Knows How to Win Wrongful Death Claims

If you recently lost a loved one in an accident caused by someone’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. The only way to get the compensation you deserve is to speak with a local attorney who has experience handling these types of cases.

The legal team at Brett McCandlis Brown & Conner, PLLC, can assist you with your case. We have helped countless families fight for their right to compensation after losing a loved one, and we serve as your loved one’s advocate – ensuring the at-fault party is held accountable for their actions.

To get started, schedule a free consultation by calling our office or requesting more information online.

Author Photo

Matt Conner

Matt Conner has a proven track record of success. Following his graduation from Willamette University with a double major in mathematics and economics, Matt worked as an economist for the Office of Economic Analysis for the State of Oregon before moving onto working in mortgage banking and real estate.