The death of a spouse, child or other family member in an accident caused by others’ carelessness or neglect of safety causes enduring pain and longing. The initial overwhelming emotions of grief and sadness may turn into anger and indignation about a preventable loss and more practical concerns about how to run the household and meet the monthly bills without a loved one’s support.
Our firm has been fighting for injured people and bereaved families in Louisville, Lexington and throughout north central Kentucky for more than 30 years. We have established a strong record of negotiating top-dollar settlements for people who have suffered serious losses including the loss of loved ones in wrongful death accidents. A wrongful death case can be settled if the insurer is willing to accept liability. When an insurer refuses to agree to a just settlement, we won’t take “No” as the last word. With our client’s consent, the Becker Law Office teams with the nationally recognized trial lawyers at Bubalo Law PLC to pursue justice for our client in a Kentucky court. Our approach means clients have the representation of both skilled negotiators and courtroom-tested trial attorneys
Call to learn how Becker Law Office can assist with your legal needs. A consultation is always free. The Becker Law Office has helped thousands of Kentuckians receive the help they need.
What is Wrongful Death Under Kentucky Law?
The Commonwealth of Kentucky civil statutes define a wrongful death as the death of a person caused by the negligence or wrongful act of another.
The law allows for compensation to be recovered from the individual or business that caused the wrongful death, or whose agent caused the death, through a wrongful death lawsuit.
What Types of Accidents Cause Fatal Injuries?
A wrongful death lawsuit can arise from fatal injuries in a wide range of situations including a:
- Car accident
- Pedestrian accident
- Nursing home neglect
- Fall on an unsafe property
- Construction accident
- Medical malpractice
- Motorcycle accident
- Defective or dangerous consumer product
- Physical assault
For example, a driver who causes a fatal crash that takes the life of another motorist may be held financially liable in a wrongful death case.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In Kentucky, the personal representative of the individual who died, typically the executor of the deceased’s estate, files a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of surviving family members.
The personal representative is typically a spouse or nearest living relative.
Any amount recovered through a wrongful death claim is distributed to the kin of the deceased, as specified by law.
If the person killed leaves a spouse and no children or grandchildren, Kentucky law specifies that any money recovered through a wrongful death lawsuit goes to the spouse after payment of funeral expenses, remaining medical bills, court costs and legal fees.
If the deceased individual left a spouse and children, then the spouse receives half the amount recovered and the children receive half the amount.
If the deceased left a child or children but no spouse, then the child or children receive the whole amount recovered.
If the deceased did not have a spouse or children, then the deceased’s parents share in the recovery.
If the deceased did not leave a spouse, child or parent, then the amount recovered becomes part of the deceased’s estate to be distributed to more distant relatives, according to Kentucky law.
Kentucky law is very specific about who can file a wrongful death claim and how much time is allowed to bring a claim. Our attorneys at Becker Law Office can review the specifics of your case and discuss your legal options to hold the wrongdoer accountable. We can help you understand your rights to a recovery and how any monetary award would be distributed in accordance with Kentucky law.
What Kind of Compensation Can You Obtain from a Wrongful Death Claim?
The types of compensation that can be sought in a wrongful death claim include:
- Medical care expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Compensation for Injuries Suffered Prior to Death – If a wrongful death victim lived for a period of time after an injury before dying, compensation may be sought for the pain and suffering experienced during this period.
- Lost Income—Compensation may be sought for the income your loved one would have earned over their lifetime if they had not been killed in a wrongful death accident.
- Punitive Damages—Kentucky law allows punitive damages to be sought in special cases in which intentional acts such as an assault or gross negligence led to the death. The intent of punitive damages is the punish the wrongdoer and signal that such wrongful conduct is outrageous and intolerable in a civilized society.
Kentucky does not limit the amount that a jury may award in a wrongful death case.
Most clients who have lost a loved one would prefer to avoid going through a courtroom trial if possible. They would prefer to regain financial stability and move ahead with their lives.
At Becker Law Office, we make every effort to reach an out-of-court settlement for our clients. That avoids the stress and uncertainty of a jury trial. If the opposing insurance company is unwilling to agree to a just settlement, it may be appropriate to proceed to court to demand justice. Our attorneys will continue trying to reach a settlement even as trial preparations are underway. Some insurance companies do not get serious about reaching wrongful death settlements until a trial is about to start.
If your wrongful death case goes to trial, you will have the nationally known trial attorneys at Bubalo Law PLC fighting for justice for you, when trial experience matters most.
Legal Options for Surviving Family Members
The surviving spouse and children may file claims separate from the wrongful death action, seeking damages for the loss of their deceased loved one’s love and affection.
The statute of limitations in Kentucky for filing loss of consortium claims is one year from the date of death. The time limit for minor children to file a claim is one year after their 18thbirthday.
How You Can Afford a Wrongful Death Attorney/Should You Hire a Lawyer for a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
If you have lost a loved one and you believe another person’s carelessness or negligence caused the death, you should have an experienced wrongful death law firm review the details. It’s important to understand whether you have a valid wrongful death claim. It should not cost you anything to determine whether you have a legitimate case.
At Becker Law Office, our attorneys handle wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis. There are no upfront costs for the client. In fact, we only receive a legal fee if we are successful in obtaining compensation for you through a settlement or jury award in a wrongful death matter.
A contingency fee agreement allows families going through difficult situations to obtain experienced legal representation without having to come up with money out of pocket to hire an attorney. We understand that you do not need added financial stress during this difficult time.