Death can be difficult to face even though it is eventual for all of us. As a result, most people don’t plan for events surrounding death, like making a will, making burial plans, or setting aside money for a funeral. This can make it more difficult for the family to deal with after a sudden death, when they are trying to grieve while figuring out how to pay the costs of a funeral.
Funeral and Burial Costs in America
Burial and funeral costs can be much higher than most people expect. According to one estimate, the average funeral costs between $7,000 and $12,000. Even a basic funeral and cremation can cost $5,000. Funeral and burial costs can include:
- Funeral fees
- Copies of death certificates
- Transporting remains
- Reserving the funeral home for the memorial service
- Burial vault
- Obituary notices
The family often defers to the funeral home because they are not sure what the deceased would want but still want to provide a nice service in memory of a loved one.
Paying the Cost of a Funeral
If the deceased or the family have not already set aside money for the cost of a funeral, the family will have to figure out how to pay the cost of the service without much notice. Social Security will only pay $255 to the surviving spouse after a family member dies, which is not nearly enough to cover the costs for a funeral.
If the family member died in an injury accident or because of a medical mistake, the family may be able to file a wrongful death claim for damages. A wrongful death claim allows certain family members or beneficiaries to hold the negligent party accountable for their actions. The deceased is not alive to file a personal injury lawsuit, so it is up to the family to make sure their loved one did not die in vain. Holding the responsible party accountable can help prevent similar accidents from happening in the future.
As part of a wrongful death lawsuit, the family can claim damages caused by the fatal injury. Damages can include expenses like funeral expenses, burial costs, medical bills, and hospital care before they died. Surviving family members may also be able to recover damages for the loss of support, loss of consortium or companionship, and the loss of the decedent’s income and financial support.
Time Limit to File a Claim After a Fatal Accident
There is a limited amount of time for the surviving family members to file a wrongful death claim after a fatal accident. The statute of limitations means that if a claim is filed even a couple of days too late, the family cannot recover damages.
In Maryland, under § 3-904(g)(1) of the wrongful death statute, a claim must be filed within three years after the injured person’s date of death.
In Pennsylvania, under 42 Pa.C.S. § 5524(2), a wrongful death claim has to be filed within 2 years from the date of the injured person’s death.
Help After a Tragic Accident
No amount of money can bring back your lost loved one. However, a wrongful death claim can help to make sure the person responsible for the fatal accident is held accountable so that others won’t have to suffer a similar tragedy. Your personal injury attorney will help guide you through the difficult process. Call Gilman & Bedigian today at (800) 529-6162 for a free consultation.