Funeral and burial costs can be included as part of the damages in a wrongful death claim, as long as they are considered reasonable and you can provide proof of payment.
Initial Responsibility for Funeral Costs
Louisiana state law specifically outlines who is tasked with making funeral and body disposition arrangements after someone passes away. In order of succession, this responsibility falls to:
- Whoever is specially named in previously prepared arrangements
- Surviving spouse
- Adult children
- Adult grandchildren
- Next of kin
- District court judge, if no other family members are available
This order of succession is very similar to who can file a wrongful death claim in Louisiana:
- If the deceased person was married, his/her spouse must file the wrongful death claim.
- If the student had a child, the adult child or minor child's guardian must file the claim on behalf of the deceased.
- When there is no spouse, child, or parent, the siblings must file the wrongful death claim.
- When there is no spouse, child, parent, or siblings, the surviving grandparents must file the claim.
Types of Funeral Expenses Included in a Wrongful Death Claim
Funeral and burial expenses will initially need to be paid out of pocket, unless the deceased person had made prepaid funeral arrangements. Some of the expenses you may encounter for a traditional full-service funeral include:
- Basic services fee for the funeral director and staff
- Pickup of body
- Embalming and other necessary preparation of body
- Vault or outer burial container
- Visitation/viewing charge for staff and facilities
- Funeral or memorial service charge for staff and facilities
- Graveside service charge for staff and necessary equipment
- Officiant fee
- Fees for musicians performing at the service
- Programs and other printed materials
- Other vehicles as necessary to transport family members
- Cost of lot or crypt
- Perpetual care fee charged by cemetery
- Charges for the opening and closing of the grave or crypt
- Grave liner, if required
- Grave marker or monument
- Obituary/death notices published in local newspapers
Defining Reasonable Funeral Costs
In 2017, a survey by the National Funeral Directors Association found that the average cost for an adult funeral was $8,755. This estimation of costs did not include charges assessed by the cemetery or the charge for the grave marker or monument. These costs are estimated to add $2,000 or more to the total.
The cost of a casket can vary widely. An average casket sells for about $2,000, but models with copper, bronze, or mahogany embellishments can cost $10,000 or more. Cremation is growing in popularity, reducing the cost of a funeral by about one third.
To receive reimbursement for funeral and burial costs paid out of pocket or by the estate of the deceased, you'll will need to show copies of bills and invoices documenting the charge for each associated item. By law, the funeral home must provide you with a General Price List (GPL) for your records. This contains a detailed breakdown of the cost for each service provided.
If your funeral costs greatly exceed the cost of an average adult funeral, you should be aware that you may not receive full reimbursement. However, any expenses you can document will be helpful in allowing your attorney to assess the worth of your case.
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim
Louisiana law requires that a wrongful death suit be filed within one year. In addition to reasonable funeral and burial costs, you can include damages for:
- Any medical expenses the deceased incurred if death did not occur immediately
- Loss of future earning potential
- Pain and suffering in the deceased person's final moments
- Loss of the deceased person's companionship and support
Has Your Loved One Died Due To The Negligence Of Others?
If your loved one died due to someone else's negligence you need to speak with a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. Please contact us online or call our Alexandria office directly at 318.541.8188 to schedule your free consultation.