WRONGFUL DEATH ATTORNEY
The unexpected death of a loved one is a trying event. In addition to the emotional trauma brought about by such an unforeseen event, families are also often left financially unprepared. Surviving family members may experience difficulty supporting children and/or making house, car, insurance, and other monthly payments. Often times, friends and family members are left to deal with these issues while also trying to cope with their loss. Kentucky law recognizes the difficulties presented by such loss and, fortunately, provides some relief in the form of a “wrongful death” claim when the loss was caused by the misconduct of another. In order to recover for wrongful death, the death must have been caused by another person or company’s negligent behavior; that is, behavior falling below the standard of care a reasonable person (or business) would have exhibited in the same or similar circumstances. In such instances you may be entitled to recover the following damages from responsible party:
- Medical Expenses
- Funeral and Burial Expenses
- Lost Earnings
- Future Projected Earnings
- Housekeeping Expenses
- Childcare Expenses
- Loss of Companionship
- Punitive Damages
Wrongful Death Attorney in Kentucky
After the unexpected death of a loved one, you may feel as if your world has been flipped upside-down. In addition to the emotional trauma brought on by such an unforeseen event, families are often left with a financial burden which they are unprepared for.
The surviving family members may experience the difficulty of supporting the rest of their family—whether by making house, car, insurance, or other monthly payments in which the deceased person previously helped with. In addition to bearing the emotional weight of grief, it can be exceedingly difficult to cope with the monetary loss.
Luckily, the state of Kentucky recognizes these trying times presented by an unforeseen death. Kentucky Legislature has implemented a form of relief when a “wrongful death” claim is issued by the deceased person’s relatives. This type of lawsuit can provide financial relief if the loss was caused by another person or company’s negligent behavior.
In order to prove a wrongful death claim, the death must have been caused by the failing behavior of a person or business which was below the standard of care, which would have been exhibited in the same or similar circumstances. Although negligent behavior can result in criminal charges and penalties, the Kentucky wrongful death law allows family members the financial relief brought on by an unforeseen death.
Whatever the reason, if you believe your family has experienced a wrongful death, it is important to reach out to a wrongful death attorney in Kentucky. An experienced attorney can provide help with the investigation, analysis, and litigation during a wrongful death case.
What is Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death is when an individual is killed at the hands of another person or organization’s negligence or misconduct. The death of an individual may also result in a criminal prosecution, which could lead to charges of murder or manslaughter. However, wrongful death is a civil lawsuit that a family member, friend, or assigned representative can file after the victim’s death. The civil action is separate from any criminal charges regarding the death.
Types of Wrongful Death Cases
The loss of any family member or relative may feel like a wrongful death. In the state of Kentucky, matters of wrongful death claims typically occur at the hands of recklessness or intentional acts by another person or entity. Examples of types of wrongful death include, but are not limited to, the following scenarios:
- A car accident where the driver at fault passed another vehicle in an unsafe manner, resulting in a head-on collision with the deceased victim;
- A driver who engages in aggressive behavior due to road rage, which results in the victim’s death;
- A drunk driver whose negligence and recklessness resulted in the victim’s death;
- The victim fell down a flight of broken stairs resulting in their death;
- Victim dies at the hands of medical malpractice (misconduct or negligence by a nurse, doctor, or health care provider which results in the patient’s death); and/or
- The victim was attacked by a dog or other pet which resulted in their death.
In addition to the examples listed above, it is valid for a person to file a wrongful death suit for any cases involving a person or business whose responsibility for injury to another resulted in that person’s death. If you are trying to determine whether a death in the family constitutes as wrongful death, contact a Kentucky wrongful death attorney near you.
Differences Between Wrongful Death and Murder
Cases involving wrongful death and murder both imply that someone has been killed. However, the main difference between wrongful death and murder is that one goes to civil court, whereas the other would go to criminal court. When someone has a wrongful death claim, the plaintiff will go to civil court to prove that the defendant was responsible and therefore liable for the damages caused by the victim’s death.
On the other hand, murder charges are handled in a criminal court. When a person has been accused of murder, it is the responsibility of the prosecution to prove beyond reasonable doubt that the defendant was responsible for the murder. If convicted, a person accused of murder will be penalized by fines, imprisonment, parole, or all the above.
Kentucky Wrongful Death Law
Under Kentucky Statute Section 411.130, a person can file for wrongful death action if the death of a person has resulted from an injury inflicted by the negligence or wrongful act of another. A negligence case is defined as when a person or company has owed a duty of care to another, and failed to demonstrate that duty. The failure of completing the assumed duty was a direct cause to a person’s death or injury and would result in holding the responsible party financially liable due to their negligence.
Kentucky law states that when a person has died given the above circumstances, damages may be recovered from the person, agent, or company who caused the negligent death. In order to file a claim for wrongful death, the action shall be prosecuted by a personal representative of the deceased person. In other words, whoever is left responsible for the finances of the deceased person will likely oversee filing for wrongful death.
What Makes Wrongful Death Claims Difficult
Although Kentucky’s wrongful death Statute was established to help victims of wrongful death seek damages, it can be strictly limited. In wrongful death claims, it is not uncommon for the plaintiff to recover little more than the lost income that the victim would have earned. For individuals who are retired or older, this can cause a serious impact to their livelihood. Insurance companies are known to fight wrongful death claims vigorously—even paying pennies on the dollar in some cases.
Working with a Kentucky Wrongful Death Attorney
However, this is where a wrongful death attorney can help. An experienced attorney will understand the legal landscape regarding wrongful death actions in the state of Kentucky. With the help of a skilled legal professional, you may be able to hold the responsible party accountable, which can lead to a significant recovery. This is especially true if any of the following claims of damages are relevant to your loss:
- Loss of consortium claims—meaning companionship, guidance, nurturance, or training—on behalf of the victim’s parents, children under the age of 18, or on behalf of the parents whose minor child died due to wrongful death;
- The conscious pain and suffering on the part of the victim prior to the wrongful death, even if for only a brief period of time; and/or
- The gross negligence of wrongful death—including texting, drinking, or on another digital device while driving, on the part of the defendant to support a claim for punitive damages.
When dealing with the loss of a loved one due to a wrongful death, it is highly advised to work with a skilled wrongful death attorney near you. An attorney can review all the information pertaining to your claim and oversee any offer you may receive from an insurance company.
As we work on developing the evidence of liability and damages essential to winning your wrongful death claim, the attorneys at Morrin Law Office also work closely with our client’s families. We want to ensure that you and your family have everything necessary during this trying time. We strive to provide endless support and guidance throughout this unforeseen event due to wrongful death. Our team will conduct a thorough investigation, gather medical records, and any other useful information pertaining to the case.
Morrin Law is here to answer any and all questions you may have during this difficult time. Our team of attorneys will put in the work on the front end to do everything possible to relieve you from the financial burden and stress of litigation. To speak with a Kentucky wrongful death attorney, contact Morrin Law Office today.
Types of Damages Caused by Wrongful Death
When a person dies from a wrongful death, it is likely their death will cause a financial strain to those around them. The extent of damages will vary on a case-to-case basis, in which a skilled Kentucky wrongful death attorney can help. By prioritizing time and resources for each case, a wrongful death attorney can consult with any financial, medical, forensic, and other experts to determine the damages. The following is a list of possible damages in which we can assist with claiming:
- Medical Expenses
- Lost Benefits
- Funeral and Burial Expenses
- Lost and Future Projected Earnings
- Housekeeping Expenses
- Childcare Expenses
- Loss of Companionship
- Punitive Damages
Punitive damages are defined under Kentucky Statute Section 411.184 as the exemplary damages and means damages, other than compensatory and nominal damages, awarded against a person to punish and discourage them from similar conduct in the future. In other words, the person or company responsible may be obligated to pay the financial burden caused by the conduct that resulted in the victim’s death.
The “plaintiff”—any person or party who is seeking to claim punitive damages—can only do so by proving with clear and convincing evidence that the defendant from whom such damages are being sought acted toward the plaintiff with oppression, fraud, or malice.
The exemptions from which a person or company may face punitive damages in a wrongful death claim are as follows:
- A principal or employer for the act of an agent or employee, unless such person authorized, ratified, or should have anticipated the conduct in question; and/or
- Punitive damages awarded for breach of contract.
What Happens in a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
When a person believes they have a wrongful death claim in Kentucky, they must request the probate court to designate someone as the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. Once the personal representative is designated, the representative can bring a civil case to recover damages from the defendant—or wrongdoer in the claim. If there is any financial amount recovered from the wrongful death claim, it is then distributed to the estate, and then to specified relatives of the deceased person.
Any compensation from the wrongful death claim is divided as follows:
- The estate shall be entitled to funds for covering the cost of the funeral and burial, as well as any expenses that incurred in maintaining the wrongful death action; and
- The deceased’s surviving family members will receive the balance of compensation awarded in a wrongful death case, whether through a settlement or a jury verdict. The money awarded through a wrongful death claim is intended to compensate the family or close relatives due to the loss of the victim. This can include support for compensation, care, and guidance.
Kentucky Statute Section 411.130 explains there is a special order that must be followed regarding the financial recovery of a wrongful death claim. That means that the financial amount recovered from litigation for the funeral expenses, administration costs, and costs of recovery including attorney fees, shall be for the benefit of and go to the kindred of the deceased in the following order:
- The widow or husband of the deceased shall receive the whole amount recovered, if there are no children or descendants from the deceased;
- If the deceased leaves a widow or husband along with children, then one-half of the recovered amount will go to the widow or husband, and the other one-half will go to the children of the deceased;
- If the deceased has no widow, husband, or children, then the recovery shall go to the parents of the deceased—one “moiety” or portion each, if both are still living. If one of the deceased’s parents is no longer living, then the full amount shall go to the remining parent. In the case where the deceased was adopted, “mother” and “father” refer to the adoptive parents of the deceased.
- If the deceased has no widow, husband, children, or parents, than the recovery shall become part of a personal estate of the deceased. The recovery shall go to pay any remaining debts of the deceased, and anything remaining shall be passed to his kindred (other relatives) more remote than those named above, according to Kentucky law.
Who Can File a Claim for Wrongful Death?
The state of Kentucky allows the personal representative of the deceased person to file a wrongful death claim. This is also referred to as the executor, which is defined as the person in charge of administrative business which is to be executed in the person’s will. This also includes the position of filing a wrongful death lawsuit, if applicable. However, if the person appointed as the executor does not want the role, they have the option to sign a waiver to pass the role onto another appointed individual.
If there is no will stating who the appointed executor is of the deceased person’s estate, then a family member will need to apply as the executor. This can only take place in a court-appointed environment, and only a court-appointed executor can file a wrongful death claim for the deceased person.
The application to the court must inform and identify the immediate family members to the deceased person. The executor is generally one of the following priority family members:
- The deceased’s spouse;
- The deceased’s children;
- The deceased’s parents; or
- The deceased’s siblings.
If the person who died from a wrongful death was a minor, then the executor role is defaulted to the parents of the minor.
- The deceased’s surviving spouse and/or children may file a claim if the wrongful death was caused by a deadly weapon; or
- The deceased’s parents may join the lawsuit filed by the personal representative if the victim was a minor (under the age of 18).
Whenever a person is going to present the claim of wrongful death to a court, it is highly advised that a wrongful death attorney be present for the official complaint. An experienced wrongful death attorney can assist with any questions you may have regarding who can file a complaint, how the process works, and provide investigative help to find evidential proof that the wrongful death is entitled to damages from the defendant.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Complaint?
Each state has its own statute of limitations when it comes to filing a wrongful death lawsuit. The state of Kentucky has a one-year limit for those eligible to file a wrongful death claim. If someone tries to file a wrongful death claim after the one-year statute of limitations has passed, the defense will likely use this as an argument as to why your case should be dismissed—without the possibility of receiving damages from the significant loss.
However, it is important to note the few exceptions regarding the statute of limitations. If the cause of death is not discovered until later, than this can affect the statute of limitations. The one-year time frame will then proceed to begin from the date the discovery was made.
For example, a couple’s son died of what was initially ruled as an accident. However, two years later the police inform the deceased person’s parents that there is new evidence that proves the death was not accidental. In this instance, the parents of the deceased person would have one-year to file a wrongful death claim from the time they were notified of the new information.
The rules regarding wrongful death statute of limitations can get complicated, which is where a wrongful death attorney can provide help. One thing to remember is that the time for filing a lawsuit should be considered as a deadline as opposed to a guideline. It can be extremely difficult to find exceptions to the statute of limitations, and whether a person filing a wrongful death claim can extend the filing time. That being said, those who have experienced a wrongful death in the family should speak with a Kentucky wrongful death attorney as soon as possible.
How Working with a Kentucky Wrongful Death Attorney can Help
The loss of a loved one can be one of the most difficult things for a person to go through. The emotional weight of grief is a heavy one, and can make the remaining family members feel lost and unsure how to move forward. In addition to the emotional trauma, families often have to bear the burden of the financial loss caused by deceased person’s untimely death. If you or someone you know believes they have a wrongful death claim, it is imperative to seek out legal help from a wrongful death attorney in your area.
At the Morrin Law Office, our team focuses on protecting your rights and working towards getting you financially stable again. We understand the strain a wrongful death can cause to you and those around you. Our team will work tirelessly to provide you the support you deserve, and work towards receiving the damages caused by a wrongful death. Contact Morrin Law Office today at (859) 358-0300 or contact us online in regards to your case.