Losing a loved one is a tragic event. The loss can be even worse if it is the result of an unexpected accident. Dealing with the emotional pain can be devastating, which is why it is easy to overlook the financial burdens. Funerals can be very expensive, and you should not have to pay those expenses, especially when someone else is at fault for your loved one’s death. Fortunately, Ohio agrees and allows for the recovery of funeral expenses in a wrongful death claim.
How much does a funeral cost?
According to the National Funeral Directors Association (NFDA), the average funeral with viewing and burial in 2014 cost about $7,200 while the average funeral with viewing and cremation cost about $6,100.
These costs do not include extras such as catering, flowers, and reception space rentals. In addition, the NFDA came to this average using less costly options such as a metal casket and basic memorial printed packages, so remember that expenses your loved one’s funeral could be higher.
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What funeral expenses can I recover in a wrongful death claim?
Under ORC § 2125.02(A)(2), surviving family members can recover “reasonable funeral and burial expenses” in a wrongful death claim against the negligent defendant. After the court awards other compensatory expenses, it will determine a separate award amount for funeral expenses.
The following are common funeral costs. Most of these are likely compensable in a wrongful death claim:
- Obtaining death certificates
- Preparing and keeping the remains
- Arranging transfer of the remains to the cemetery or crematory
- The urn or casket
- Payment for use of the service facility
- Printed materials (e.g., prayer cards)
What are “reasonable” funeral costs?
The law does not elaborate on what “reasonable” means, but it is safe to say that the court will likely not require the defendant provide compensation for lavish or extravagant funeral services. For example, if you order a $15,000 headstone for your loved one’s grave, it is likely that the court will not consider that expense “reasonable.”
When you are planning your loved one’s send off, be sure to work within your means and do not depend on the expenses award in your wrongful death settlement.
How do I go about recovering funeral expenses?
While it may be the last thing you think of, consulting a wrongful death attorney is the first step in minimizing the financial impact of your loved one’s death on your family. The attorneys at Bressman Law will do everything possible to ensure that you are able to hold the people responsible for your loss accountable; this includes paying for your loved one’s funeral and burial expenses.
We know that the emotional and financial burdens can devastate a family. We will do everything in our power to lessen the financial burdens you are feeling and seek justice for your loved one.