The High Cost Of A Wrongful Death

A man is young and healthy, but is struck and killed by a driver while riding his bike. It turns out that the driver who hit the man was texting, and his family decides to file a wrongful death claim. If they win, they will be compensated for things like emotional suffering, medical bills, funeral bills, and lost wages. Lost wages and medical bills make sense, you might be thinking, but why funeral costs? Is a funeral really as expensive as a medical bill?

Unfortunately, the answer is often yes.

Funerals are an important tradition throughout many cultures. They serve as a sense of closure for the deceased person’s family, and offer a final chance to say goodbye. Some families prefer traditional burials, while many others opt for cremations. Some people don’t want a funeral at all, but prefer a “celebration of life” in their memory. Today, there are more and more options after death — bodies can be donated to science, and ashes can be potted in plants and turned into trees, or even launched into orbit. But even for just a traditional burial, prices are shockingly high.

Step One

According to the National Funeral Directors Association, the cost of a regular adult funeral is $7,323. And this only includes the services that the funeral home provides. At a funeral home, services usually include:

  • Embalming (the process of preserving the body from decay)
  • Body preparation, including dressing and makeup
  • Service fees
  • Miscellaneous expenses, including the cost of a hearse, death certification, or obituary

The funeral home also often provides the casket for the funeral. This is a main reason why the cost of a funeral is so high. A casket made of a traditional material, like wood, fiberglass, or plastic, costs around $2,000, though prices can vary. A casket made of a fancier material, like mahogany, bronze, or copper, can sell for as much as $10,000. People have the opportunity to purchase their caskets from a third-party, and do not have to purchase it directly from the funeral home, thanks to the Funeral Rule, which was enacted in 1994. By purchasing a casket from an outside vendor, the deceased person’s family can save some money.

Step Two

So, thousands of dollars have already been spent, and the body isn’t even buried yet. The next step is the burial itself, which can cost another few thousand dollars. Cemetery costs include the space for the grave, as well as:

  • Headstone installation
  • One-time “perpetual care” fee, which goes toward cemetery maintenance
  • Opening (digging the grave) and closing (lowering of the casket)
  • Burial vaults or grave liners

Step Three

Finally, the last step is a headstone and grave marker. The headstone is the larger stone that goes at the top of a casket, while the grave marker is a smaller, flat stone that lies at the foot of the casket. A flat headstone costs around $1,000, but an upright headstone, the kind most commonly seen in cemeteries, can cost anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000. Headstones can be designed in many shapes, including hearts, crosses, or other religious symbols. They may also have words, other than the name and date of birth and dead, engraved on them. The price will vary depending on the needs.

In total, a funeral can cost upwards of $12,000, and is likely to cost at least a few thousand dollars, even for the cheapest options. When a family is grieving the loss of a loved one, these complicated expenses can pile up. By including funeral expenses in the compensation they seek for their loved one’s wrongful death, they can take away some of the stress and suffering of trying to afford a funeral.


The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.

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