Can I recover funeral expenses in a wrongful death claim in New York?

grave of a dead person

Losing a loved one is never easy. Funerals give family and friends a chance to get closure as they honor the life of and mourn the person they lost. However, funerals are expensive affairs. The National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA) reports that the median adult funeral cost almost $7,200 in 2014. If your loved one’s death was the result of another party’s negligence, you may be able to recover funeral expenses in a wrongful death claim.

Can I recover funeral costs in a New York wrongful death claim?

If an individual dies due to another party’s negligent or intentional behavior, family members can hold that party liable by filing a wrongful death claim.

If your claim is successful, you will be able to recover compensation for damages such as lost wages, loss of support, and, yes, funeral expenses.

How much can I recover in funeral costs?

If your New York wrongful death claim is successful, you can recoverable reasonable funeral expenses. So what is reasonable?

New York statutes do not discuss what reasonable means exactly, but you can assume that most people and businesses would find the average cost of a funeral reasonable.

We mentioned above that the median funeral with burial cost about $7,200 in 2014 (median funeral with cremation cost about $6,100), but the total cost can be much, much higher. The NFDA stated that the total cost included:

  • Basic services fee
  • Cremation fee
  • Cremation casket
  • Urn
  • Transfer of deceased to funeral home
  • Embalming/preparation
  • Rental of facilities for viewing and ceremony
  • Hearse
  • Memorial package (e.g., prayer cards)
  • Casket (metal not wood)

While this total cost does not include ordering death certificates, funeral plots, catering, reception rental fees, any upcharges, or publishing an obituary, that does not mean those costs are non-compensable.

However, you must remember that these costs must be reasonable. Insurers and courts understand that you need to feed people at a funeral reception, but it is likely that either the insurer or court will see a $5,000 catering bill as unreasonable.

They also understand that you would want a nice casket for your loved one, but will likely see the purchase of a $10,000 casket or urn unreasonable.

Get Help Recovering Funeral Expenses

Grieving families should focus on mourning the loss of the loved one, not worrying about how to pay for a funeral for a death someone else caused. Filing a wrongful death lawsuit against those responsible for your loved one’s death may help you give your loved one the sendoff he or she deserves.

However, just because you can recover those costs does not mean the insurer will readily give up those costs.

Our team wants to help you in any way we can during this tough time. Let us handle your case while you focus on spending time with your family. Give a wrongful death lawyer at Goldstein & Bashner a call to give yourself the best chance at recovering funeral expenses and other damages: 516-874-4362.

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