Kentucky Wrongful Death
Accidents cause injuries every day in our state, and some of those injuries end up causing the death of the victim. In many, many cases, the “accident” was actually caused by the negligence of someone other than the deceased. If you are a spouse, child, or another family member of the person who died, can you sue the person who caused the accident that produced the death?
Yes, you can, in what the law calls a “wrongful death” suit. Kentucky specifically allows these claims and specifies the procedures for suing, who can sue, and for what damages.
Establishing Legal Liability
The essence of a wrongful death case is establishing that the death was, indeed, “wrongful.” The person you sue must be legally responsible for having failed to do something he should have done, or for doing something he should not have done. Since legal responsibilities vary from one context to another, and people have different responsibilities depending on their status, wrongful death cases may require establishing liability under any number of different legal principles in the field of personal injury law.
For example, the legal principles that apply to the operation of a motor vehicle differ from those that apply to the operation of a retail store, and both of those differ from the principles that apply to the operation of a cruise ship or a nursing home.
To be successful in your wrongful death claim, you need an experienced Kentucky attorney with a broad knowledge of these different fields.
Who Can Recover for Wrongful Death
The Kentucky wrongful death statute specifically requires that the suit is brought by the deceased’s personal representative, with the damages recovered distributed to the deceased’s relatives in the manner that the statute sets forth.
The distribution of the recovery depends on what relatives the deceased left behind:
- The full recovery goes to the surviving spouse if there is one, and there are no children or descendants of children.
- If there are children and a surviving spouse, the recovery goes one-half to the spouse and one-half to be divided among the children.
- If there are children and no surviving spouse, the full recovery goes to the children.
- If there are no children and no surviving spouse, the recovery goes to the deceased’s surviving parents (that includes adoptive parents if the deceased was adopted).
- If there are no children, surviving spouse, or surviving parents, the recovery is added to the deceased’s estate and goes to the legal heirs.
What Damages Can Be Recovered for Wrongful Death
The amount of damages varies considerably depending on such factors as the deceased’s age and income (both current and projections of the future). Recovery can also be had for the various benefits that have been lost such as companionship, care, guidance, etc., and some other elements.
If the facts of the case support a finding that the defendant’s actions were willful, or if the negligence was so severe that it can be called gross negligence, punitive damages may also be awarded by a jury.
The amount distributed to the deceased’s family is reduced by any cost of recovery, burial expenses, etc., which are part of the estate to be distributed according to the deceased’s will or the Kentucky law regarding intestacy.
Getting Legal Help to Recover Wrongful Death Damages in Kentucky
The people who caused your loved one’s death aren’t likely to just admit they were at fault and hand over a fair settlement without a fight. Most times, they resist at every stage: they claim they aren’t responsible for the death, and they dispute how much of a loss you have suffered. Most cases involve insurance companies, which may be liable for some or all of your damages, and they have both legal and investigative staffs dedicated to minimizing the amount they hand over to you.
You need lawyers equal to the task of standing up for you and your rights. At the Bowling Green, Kentucky law firm of Lowder & McGill, PLLC, we are committed, aggressive, and ready to dedicate as many hours as it takes to get the best result for our clients. We keep our caseload low enough that each client and each case gets all the attention and effort required for a successful outcome. We thoroughly understand the law that applies to the many different kinds of accidents that may have caused the death, and we know what to expect from the other side.
We offer persistence, dedication, and sensitivity that maximizes the chance of success with the least amount of stress for you and your family. Whatever the circumstances surrounding your loved one’s death, we can help. Call Lowder & McGill today to set a time for a free consultation about your case. Once we get the details, we can give you an idea of what to expect and get started on making sure you get what you deserve. There is no fee unless we succeed in obtaining a monetary recovery for you by negotiating a fair out-of-court settlement when possible, or by trying your case to a jury when necessary. Kentucky limits the amount of time you have to file a wrongful death claim, so don’t delay. Contact us today.