Losing someone you love can leave a large hole in your life and heart. Finding out that the death was the result of another person or entity's negligent actions (or inaction) can be almost too much to bear. Sadly, negligence-related accident fatalities happen far more often than most people realize. When they do, the victim's surviving family members may be eligible to file a wrongful death lawsuit to seek compensation for damages and losses related to their loved one's untimely demise.
Having represented wrongful death claimants in cities throughout the state of Kentucky, our attorneys understand that this a difficult time for your family, and compensation may be the last thing on your minds. However, while a settlement or financial award in a wrongful death case can never replace the loved one you lost, it can help offset losses incurred as a result of his death, and help beneficiaries stay on firm financial footing.
Was your loved one killed in a personal injury accident that wasn't his fault? Here's what you need to know if you're considering taking legal action.
How Accidental and Wrongful Deaths Differ
Often, what people refer to as “accidents” are actually negligence-related incidents. This can make differentiating between accidental and wrongful deaths even more difficult. One thing to keep in mind is that true accidents couldn't have been prevented, while wrongful deaths are the direct result of someone else's negligent actions or lack of appropriate actions.
In Kentucky, actionable wrongful death cases must contain the following elements:
- The defendant owed the victim a duty of care.
- The defendant breached the duty of care.
- The breach resulted in the victim's death.
- The death would not have occurred without the defendant's negligence.
Common Personal Injury Accidents That Can Lead to Wrongful Death Claims
Personal injury and wrongful death litigation are common bedfellows, as many types of personal injury accidents can easily lead to death. Examples of personal injury accidents that may spur wrongful death claims include:
- Auto accidents
- Truck crashes
- DUI accidents
- Pedestrian accidents
- Premises liability incidents
Wrongful Death Claimants May Be Eligible for Economic and Non-Economic Damages
Wrongful death claimants pursue compensation for the victim's estate and beneficiaries. Plaintiffs can seek compensation for a wide range of losses, including:
- Reasonable funeral and burial and cremation fees
- Reasonable costs of pursuing the wrongful death claim
- Loss of income
- Loss of benefits and services (such as medical insurance or pension plans)
- Loss of care, guidance, protection, and support
- Loss of consortium
- Mental anguish
- And more
Filing a Wrongful Death Claim in Kentucky
Kentucky wrongful death claimants usually have one year from the date of their loved one's death to file a wrongful death claim seeking compensation. However, the ability to file a wrongful death claim isn't extended to just anyone. Kentucky limits wrongful death filing eligibility to the personal representative for the victim's estate. If a personal representative wasn't named in the victim's will—or no will exists—the probate court can name or appoint someone to serve in that role.
State law also specifies who can receive benefits from a wrongful death claim. Beneficiaries include, in the following order, the victim's:
- Named heirs or heirs at law
Consult a Knowledgeable Personal Injury Attorney About Your Wrongful Death Claim
If someone you loved died because of another person or entity's negligence, a wrongful death lawsuit can hold the responsible party accountable for their actions and help protect your family's financial future.
At Shane Smith Law, our Kentucky attorneys are dedicated to helping families get the compensation and justice they deserve after the negligence-related death of a loved one. Do you have questions about a wrongful death claim? Contact us today to request a free initial case consultation and someone from our office will respond within 24 hours to schedule your appointment.