The sudden loss of a loved one can crush a family both emotionally and financially. However, when someone dies because of the negligence of another person, business, or government agency, his or her family may be entitled to compensation. Texas law allows certain members of a decedent's family to file a wrongful death claim and pursue financial recovery for economic and non-economic losses related to their loved one's death.
Funeral and burial fees are a prime example of the many significant expenses families can face after a loved one dies. Though receiving a monetary award in a wrongful death case can never replace a lost loved one, it can compensate the family for these end-of-life expenses and other damages.
If your loved one was killed in a negligence-related accident that wasn't his fault, here's what you need to know about seeking compensation for funeral and burial costs in a wrongful death case.
Wrongful Death Funeral and Burial Expenses
Paying for a funeral after a loved one's unexpected death can deal a serious financial blow to families. According to statistics from the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), in the United States, the national median cost of a funeral with a viewing and burial in 2014 was more than $7,000. A funeral with a viewing and cremation can cost more than $6,000.
Fortunately, wrongful death plaintiffs can seek compensation for a wide range of funeral and burial expenses, including:
- Basic services fees
- Funeral home rental fees
- Preparation of the body (for viewing and burial/cremation)
- Casket or urn costs
- Printed materials, such as funeral programs
- Clergy fees for ministers, pastors, or priests
- Florist fees and floral arrangements
- Reception venue rental and refreshment costs
- Hearse rental for funeral procession
- Burial plot, vault, or mausoleum space
- Bereavement services
While it's understandable for family members to want to give their loved one the ceremony they deserve, some states only allow compensation to be awarded for funeral and burial/cremation expenses deemed “reasonable.” An experienced wrongful death attorney can advise clients whether this applies to their case.
Other Compensation Available in Wrongful Death Cases
Plaintiffs in wrongful death cases can request compensation for a wide variety of other losses incurred both before and after their loved one's death. Losses the victim sustained prior to death can include:
- Medical expenses related the incident that ultimately caused death
- Property damages
- Wages lost between the time of injury and time of death
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
Family members of the deceased can also seek damages for losses they incurred because of their loved one's death, such as:
- Loss of the decedent's earning potential
- Loss of services
- Loss of care and guidance
- Mental anguish
- Loss of inheritance
- Loss of companionship and society
- Loss of consortium
Factors That Could Affect Your Wrongful Death Claim
- Not everyone is eligible to file a wrongful death claim. In Texas, that right is reserved for the victim's surviving spouse, biological or adopted children, or parents. If the deceased didn't have survivors, some cases may allow a personal representative or the executor of the deceased's estate to file a claim.
- Statute of limitations laws specify how long family members have to file a wrongful death claim. In Texas, in most cases, wrongful death claims must be filed within two years of the person's death. Failing to file the claim within the statute of limitations may result in the case being thrown out.
- While plaintiffs can attempt to file wrongful death claims against government agencies or employees, those cases could potentially be blocked if the agency in question invokes Sovereign Immunity, which prevents citizens from filing lawsuits against the government or its employees.
Do You Need a Wrongful Death Attorney?
If someone you loved died because of another person's negligence, the award-winning legal team with McGartland Law Firm can help you hold them accountable for their action and fight for the compensation you deserve. Do you have questions about a potential wrongful death claim? Contact McGartland Law Firm today to schedule an appointment for a free initial case review.