Suddenly losing a loved one often leaves surviving family members to cope with a difficult loss and can cause massive emotional trauma. This loss and trauma can be compounded by the increased financial burden from funeral and burial expenses, unpaid medical bills, and a potential loss of household income if the deceased financially contributed to the household. The death of a loved one causes even more pain and anguish if it resulted from another party’s intentional actions or negligence and if it could have been prevented.
In such a situation, Kentucky law permits survivors of the decedent to bring a wrongful death lawsuit, through the personal representative of the estate, against the party responsible for the death. Money cannot turn back the clock, bring your loved one back, or heal the emotional trauma that you feel. However, receiving compensation from a wrongful death claim can help pay for expenses and alleviate some or all of the financial stress you feel in the aftermath of your loss.
If you have lost a loved one at the hands of another party, and you live in Kentucky, you might be eligible for compensation related to your loss, depending on your relationship with the deceased.
Contact Flora Templeton Stuart at (888) 782-9090 for a free consultation with an experienced injury lawyer, and to discuss your eligibility for bringing a wrongful death suit and the details of the event which led to the death of your family member.
Ms. Stuart has more than 40 years of experience negotiating, settling, and litigating personal injury claims, including those involving wrongful deaths. Her ongoing dedication to professional excellence and client advocacy has resulted in the recovery of millions of dollars in settlements and court-awarded damages for her clients.
In a recent case, Ms. Stuart obtained a $1.45 million settlement through mediation for a family whose child died after a negligent driver struck him on the road.
This is only an example and does not guarantee a specific financial outcome for your wrongful death suit, but Flora Templeton Stuart and her skilled team have the resources and experience to build strong personal injury cases and to maximize their clients’ chances of receiving compensation for their claims.
Under Kentucky law, a wrongful death occurs “whenever the death of a person results from an injury inflicted by the negligence or wrongful act or another.” The law also requires that had your loved one lived, he or she would have been eligible to take legal action against the at-fault party for injuries.
Although many nuances exist, on a broad level, you can think of a wrongful death claim as a personal injury lawsuit in which an appointed representative of the estate of the deceased sues the at-fault party for damages on behalf of the deceased’s family members. In Kentucky, surviving family members cannot bring a wrongful death suit; a personal representative of the estate must file the lawsuit on their behalf.
Our loved ones might suddenly and tragically lose their lives in a wide variety of scenarios, including intentional harm or another party’s negligence. Some common situations which might give rise to a wrongful death suit include:
Motor vehicle accidents are the most common events that lead to wrongful deaths across the nation, including in Kentucky. Drivers and occupants in cars, pickups, SUVs, commercial trucks, and motorcycles are at risk for death when a severe traffic crash occurs.
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet estimates that 724 people died in 738 traffic crashes on Kentucky’s roads and highways in 2018. These numbers represent a slight decrease from 2017, but the tragic numbers are still too high considering the vast majority of motor vehicle crashes are preventable.
Careless drivers who drive drunk, drive without enough rest, or drive recklessly put those with whom they share the road at risk for death. Common driver distractions, such as cell phones, adjusting vehicle features, watching events outside of the vehicle, and tending to passengers, also lead to dangerous traffic accidents. Distracted driving might result in one or more fatalities and open up the at-fault driver to liability in a wrongful death lawsuit.
Kentucky’s moderate weather and scenic landscapes make it a great place to go for a walk, go for a run, or spend time riding a bicycle. Those who live in the state’s larger cities sometimes enjoy biking to and from work. Cyclists and pedestrians face a higher risk of fatality when an accident occurs, because they don’t have the protection that a driver or occupant in a motor vehicle has.
In fact, almost 80 pedestrians died from accident injuries in Kentucky in 2018. Even pedestrians and cyclists who survive the immediate aftermath of an accident can suffer fatal injuries, especially internal damage and brain injuries. In rare cases, cyclists and pedestrians can cause an accident by suddenly entering traffic, but even then, motorists may still face liability.
Motor vehicle drivers have an elevated duty of care toward others on the road, especially children, and cyclists and pedestrians often have the right of way. Negligent drivers who aren’t paying attention or think they own the road can face liability in a wrongful death suit if they fatally strike a cyclist or pedestrian.
Full-time employees spend eight hours each day at work. Many put in extra hours and days each week, making it likely that a workplace injury can occur at some time. Unfortunately, some accidents in the workplace result in fatal injuries. The United States Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) estimates that several dozen workplace fatalities occur each year in Kentucky, with a total of 70 in one recent year.
Transportation accidents accounted for 28 of those fatalities, by far the most common cause. Other causes of Kentucky workplace fatalities include falls, slips, and trips in the workplace, fatal exposure to dangerous and toxic chemicals and substances, and contact with heavy equipment and machinery. A few of the fatalities in Kentucky were a result of workplace violence, where someone intentionally harmed an employee while he or she was on-the-job.
If you have lost a loved one after a workplace accident, you need a wrongful death lawyer who has experience handling workers’ compensation claims. Wrongful death cases at a place of employment are highly complex cases that can involve employers, contractors, property owners, business owners, and other potential third parties. A skilled attorney understands how to get to the root of what caused a particular accident and determine who to name as a defendant.
These common situations can lead to wrongful death, but many other scenarios can cause you to lose a loved one, such as domestic abuse, child abuse, nursing home negligence, swimming pool accidents, bus accidents, and horseback riding accidents.
If the family member you lost would have been eligible to bring a personal injury lawsuit against the at-fault party had your loved one survived, Kentucky law permits a personal representative of the estate of the decedent to file a lawsuit on your behalf.
You have limited time to take action, though, so don’t delay contacting an attorney to determine your eligibility to file a wrongful death claim. The statute of limitations for wrongful death suits and the specific types of damages can vary greatly under Kentucky law. Depending on the exact circumstances of your loss, you might only have one year from the date of death for the personal representative to file the suit.
If the court rules in your favor, or you reach a settlement with the at-fault party, any damages paid will be distributed to eligible family members in accordance with Kentucky law. Although an exception might exist, the guidelines that Kentucky law provides to pay out damages to eligible family members include:
You might receive compensation for economic and non-economic losses related to the death of your loved one when you have the personal representative of the estate bring a wrongful death suit. These damages, typically referred to as compensatory damages, relate to the injuries that your loved one suffered before death and the losses that you have incurred as a result of the death. In cases of intentional harm or gross negligence, your attorney can also ask for punitive damages, which are meant to punish the liable party for wrongful actions.
Compensatory damages, which are frequently awarded in wrongful death cases, provide money for the following:
If you have experienced the tragic loss of a loved one, you shouldn’t have to carry the large financial burden that often accompanies such a loss. The emotional trauma you face is bad enough. Focus on coping with your loss and healing, and let an experienced wrongful death attorney worry about seeking compensation for your losses from those whose negligence or intentional harm caused your loved one’s death.
Flora Templeton Stuart has more than four decades of experience helping families in the wake of tragic losses and handling the complexities of wrongful death cases. Call (888) 782-9090, or contact us online, for a free consultation and to discuss the circumstances or events that led to your loved one’s death, determine your eligibility for compensation, and learn how we can assist you in choosing the best course of action for you and your family. We understand the difficult time you are going through, and we are here to help guide you through the entire legal process from start to finish.