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Compensation For Death In A Car Accident

August 11, 2021 By Kent Ryan Brown

Closeup image of crashed car window in car accident.Automobile accidents accounted for over 700 deaths in 2019 in the state of Kentucky. There are multiple forms of compensation available for a death in a car accident, also known as a “wrongful death” claim in Kentucky. Pursuant to Kentucky law (KRS 411.130), whenever the death of a person results from an injury inflicted by the negligence or wrongful act of another, including a car accident, damages may be recovered for the death from the person who caused it, or whose agent or servant caused it.

These damages can include; economic damages, non-economic damages, punitive damages, funeral expenses, and cost of administration of the estate. Additional compensation may include property damage (damage or total loss of the vehicle) and Kentucky PIP or “no fault benefits.”

If your loved one has been killed in an automobile collision, the following compensation may be available:

Damages Available In Wrongful Death Cases

Economic Damages

Economic damages resulting from death in a car accident can include medical expenses and lost wages. These damages are called “economic damages” because they can have a direct dollar amount associated with the loss.

The experienced attorneys at Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers often retain expert economist to help prove loss of earnings for the remainder of the deceased work life, using their past and current wages as the time of the collision. There are many considerations to take into account when calculating economic damages, such as future lost wages, and our team will fight to maximize those damage amounts.

Actual Case Handled By Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers

Our law firm represented James, who was struck in the rear by a semi-truck causing catastrophic injuries to his head and body, resulting in his eventual death. James was 32 at the time of his death and was employed, earning a salary of $35,575 per year. Our firm retained an economist who calculated future lost wages, household services and childcare for the remainder of his life, including retirement and health insurance benefits. This economic loss resulted in close to $1,000,000, which added substantially to his multi-million-dollar settlement. Having experienced attorneys is crucial to obtaining a favorable outcome.

James did survive for a period of time before his death following the tragic accident with the semi-truck, whose operator was on his cell phone at the time of the collision. Therefore, he was entitled to pain & suffering damages, adding to the total settlement.

*Clients Names Changed for Privacy Protection

Noneconomic Damages

Noneconomic damages for death in a car accident can include pain and suffering, both mental and physical, and consortium claims based on loss of companionship. Kentucky specifically provides for loss of consortium for surviving spouses (KRS 411.145), as well as consortium claims for parents who lose children who are younger than 18 years of age, and for children under the age of 18 who lose their parent as a result of wrongful death.

Compensation Due to Minors in Car Accident Wrongful Death of a Parent

In the case of a minor who loses their parent in a wrongful death claim, our office often works to establish annuities to provide future income for the children later in life.

Kentucky law provides that any settlement obtained on behalf of a minor must be court approved and placed into an interest-bearing blocked account or annuity. Annuities can be structured to provide a certain percentage at age 18, monthly benefits, future benefits or lump sums.

For instance, a minor who receives a settlement can have a lump sum paid at age 18, then monthly benefits of $1,000.00 starting at age 22, then the remaining funds paid as a lump sum at age 30. Our experienced attorneys work directly with families to help them explore the best annuity options for their particular situation, preparing the minor children for future educational cost, and potentially even a future home.

Actual Case Handled By Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers

Our law firm was hired by the guardian of two young children who lost their mother Melanie in a collision with a big truck. They were entitled to a consortium claim.

After obtaining appointments of the guardian to represent the minor children and hiring experts, such as accident reconstructionists, we negotiated a multi-million-dollar settlement which was placed into annuities for the future of the children.

Our experienced attorneys work directly with families to help them explore the best annuity options for their particular situation, preparing the minor children for future educational cost, and potentially even a future home.

*Clients Names Changed for Privacy Protection

Punitive Damages

In some cases, punitive damages may also be available, which are intended specifically to punish the wrongdoer for their willful or gross negligence. Punitive damages may be available in instances where the at-fault party was drunk or intoxicated, or their conduct was so malicious or grossly negligent that punitive damages are warranted.

The Kentucky legislature (KRS 411.186) has provided for following factors for assessment of the amount of punitive damages, if awarded:

  • The likelihood at the relevant time that serious harm would arise from the defendant’s misconduct
  • The degree of the defendant’s awareness of that likelihood
  • The profitability of the misconduct to the defendant
  • The duration of the misconduct and any concealment of it by the defendant; and
  • Any actions by the defendant to remedy the misconduct once it became known to the defendant.

Property Damage

If your loved one’s vehicle was damage or totaled in the collision due to someone else’s negligence, you may be able to recover for the cost of those damages, or the fair replacement value if the car is deemed a total loss. Our skilled team can help walk you through this process for no additional fee.

Kentucky PIP/No-Fault Benefits

Every automobile insurance policy in Kentucky requires PIP/No-Fault Benefit coverage of a minimum of $10,000.00 (see KRS 304.39). These “no fault” benefits are intended to pay the first $10,000.00 in medical bills and lost wages regardless of fault. There may be instances where the full balance of PIP can be paid out in a wrongful death claim, or otherwise used to cover medical bills or medical liens.

The team at Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers can determine if the PIP benefits can be paid out or applied towards medicals. It is important to contact our attorneys soon after the collision in order to reserve the PIP benefits, otherwise they may get exhausted before you are even aware.

Kentucky Wrongful Death Procedure

In Kentucky, the personal representative of the estate is the appropriate person to bring about the wrongful death claim. This personal representative is appointed by the probate court in the county where the deceased resided.

Typically, a spouse or “next of kin” have standing to be appointed, and sometimes the deceased specifically appoints or nominates a personal representative in their will if they had one in effect at the time of death. The procedure for appointment can be a confusing one, and our wrongful death attorneys will walk you through the process and handle all court filings and appearances on your behalf.

Kentucky law provides that the personal representative may recover an administration fee, and funeral expenses must be paid first from any amount recovered. Kentucky law (KRS 411.130) further dictates how the compensation is divided from the damages collected by the personal representative, after the funeral cost, cost of administration, and attorneys fees have been paid:

  1. If the deceased leaves a spouse, with no children, then 100% goes to the surviving spouse
  2. If the deceased leaves a spouse and children, then 50% goes to the surviving spouse and 50% goes to the children of the deceased (to be split evenly among the children).
  3. If the deceased leaves a child/children but has no surviving spouse, then 100% goes to the child/children.
  4. If the deceased leaves no surviving spouse or children, then the recovery passes 100% to the mother and father of the deceased, evenly. If one of the surviving parents are deceased, then the entirety goes to the surviving parent. This includes “adoptive” parents.
  5. If the deceased leaves no surviving spouse, child/children, mother and/or father, then 100% of the recovery shall become part of the personal estate, to pass according to the Kentucky law of descent and distribution.

What Cost are Involved in Pursing a Wrongful Death Claim from a Car Accident?

Our Kentucky wrongful death lawyers handle wrongful death claims on a contingency fee basis. This means that there are no up-front cost, or hourly rates, and our law firm only gets paid a percentage of the recovery in the event of settlement or judgement. 

Contact Our Kentucky Wrongful Death Lawyers Today

The loss of a loved one is always a difficult and trying time. Fortunately, Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers can help take the weight off of your shoulders so that you do not have to deal with the insurance companies or defense lawyers directly.

It is extremely important to contact an attorney as soon as possible, as there are certain time constraints in bringing a wrongful death action. Our attorneys move swiftly to help preserve evidence that may be crucial in proving fault of the other party. We work closely with professional investigators and expert reconstructionist to gather evidence, obtain witness statements, and take the necessary actions to ensure that we can help prove your case and your damages.

If you or a loved one has died because of someone else’s negligence, call Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers now at 888-782-9090 for a free case consultation. We fight for those who have lost a loved one due to another’s careless or intentional behavior.

Author Photo

Kent Brown

Kent has years of experience negotiating, litigating, and fighting for his clients, both inside the courtroom and out. Kent brings this same determination and fights for injured clients every day with the Flora Templeton Stuart Accident Injury Lawyers. He is a member of both the Kentucky Bar Association and the Tennessee Bar Association.