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What Are the Basics of Survival Claim Compensation for Funeral Expenses?

Survival Claim Compensation and Funeral Expenses

Because a survival claim is the personal injury claim that survives someone after their death, it may at first seem counter-intuitive to expect that a survival claim would cover funeral expenses, and that it would be more intuitive for a wrongful death claim to cover those costs. However, when someone passes away, it is customary for their funeral costs to come from their estate. Since a wrongful death claim is for the surviving family members, and the survival claim is for the deceased's estate, this is why the funeral costs can be filed under the survival claim.

Survival Claim Coverage

Before we look at how coverage for funeral expenses works, let's look at what is covered in general in a survival claim. Here is a list of things covered under the survival claim:

  • medical bills
  • pain and suffering
  • personal injury damages
  • punitive damages
  • funeral expenses

This list covers damages that the injured person suffered as a result of someone else's negligence. But how does the funeral expenses operate in a survival claim? The short answer is that survival claims are different from the average personal injury claim. This is because the plaintiff in a survival claim is different. The plaintiff in a personal injury claim is the physical person who has been injured. In a survival claim, that person is no longer alive, so the plaintiff is the representative of the deceased's estate. If the injury or injuries were the ultimate cause of the deceased's death, funeral expenses can be covered under the survival claim.

The Plaintiff's Burdens of Proof

  1. The first thing that the plaintiff should show in a survival claim is that the defendant's negligent act caused the decedent's injuries. (Here, the decedent is the deceased person that the plaintiff represents.) The proof that needs to be shown here is the same proof that a plaintiff would show in a regular personal injury claim for negligence:

    • The defendant owed a legal duty to the decedent
    • The defendant breached the legal duty
    • The decedent suffered injuries
    • The defendant's breach caused the decedent's injuries
  2. Once it is established that the decedent could have brought a personal injury claim against the defendant if they survived, the second thing that the plaintiff should show in order to receive funeral expense compensation is that the injuries were the ultimate cause of death. When this is proven there is only one more step to prove for the estate to receive compensation for funeral expenses.

  3. The final burden of proof on the plaintiff is that the funeral expenses were of a reasonable amount.(Some states have a cap, for
    example, Maryland's cap is $10,000 for funeral expenses. According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the median cost of a
    funeral with a vault in 2012 was $8,343.

Pursuing the Claim

When someone finds themself in the position of filing a claim on behalf of a family member or friend, it's easy to feel overwhelmed because of the pressure and responsibility that comes with being the representative of someone else's estate. The average responsibilities after a loved one's death are already challenging enough, but sometimes with the added pressure of filing a survival claim, it's important to have someone working on your side. If you've determined that you have a survival claim and should be able to get compensation for funeral expenses, or want to ask more questions about the process in general, call us at (855)326-0000. We don't charge any consultation fees and you never pay us a cent unless you win your case.

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