It is heartbreaking and highly emotional anytime someone loses a loved one. Those feelings might be slightly different if you unexpectedly lose a loved one due to the negligence and unsafe acts of another. The last thing you think about after a loss is hiring a Lexington wrongful death attorney. Unfortunately, under Kentucky law, a wrongful death claim must be filed with the appropriate court sooner than other types of cases.
Also, the person or company that caused the death may deny responsibility for your loss. Even worse, the insurance carrier for the responsible party may not fairly evaluate your loss. Critical evidence may need to be examined quickly. It is therefore imperative that you contact an attorney as soon as practicable.
At Golden Law Office, our attorneys have handled many claims. We know the urgency of investigating this devastating claim and the importance of hiring the appropriate experts – whether they are accident reconstructionist specialists, engineers, economist, or medical experts – to present a strong case. We’ll get your loved one the justice they deserve.
What Is Considered a Wrongful Death in Kentucky?
Every state has their own wrongful death laws. Kentucky’s are established under statute section 411.130. According to the statute, wrongful death is defined as a death that is caused by the negligent or wrongful acts of another. The wrongful behavior could have been unintentional or intentional.
One way to think of a wrongful death suit is like a personal injury claim the deceased is unable to file. If the person had survived their injury, they would have been able to take legal action on their own behalf. Instead, however, it’s up to the family members to bring the claim to court.
How Do Wrongful Deaths Occur?
As discussed, when a person is killed as a result of someone else’s negligence, a wrongful death case can emerge. There are a number of causes of deaths that may be eligible for compensation. The most common include the following:
- Auto Accidents. No matter how many traffic laws and safety measures exist, there will always be negligent drivers on the road. When those individuals choose to speed, text, drink and drive, or break other traffic laws, they are putting others on the road at risk.
- Medical Malpractice. Doctors are supposed to provide patients with the accepted standard of care. Negligent physicians may actively or passively make mistakes that bring significant harm to their patients. Surgical mistakes, birth injuries, and medication errors are among the most common that result in wrongful death.
- Workplace Accidents. While certain jobs are inherently more dangerous others, like those that work with heavy machinery or toxic chemicals, employers are supposed to ensure their employees are working in safe conditions. When protocol isn’t followed, deadly accidents can occur.
- Product Liability. When a manufacturer produces a product, they have a responsibility to the consumer to ensure their product is safe. Unfortunately, some companies attempt to save money by cutting corners with testing. The most common hazardous products include defective auto parts, medications and medical devices, and children’s toys.
- Nursing Home Abuse. Long-term care facilities are supposed to provide their residents with opportunities for a high quality of life. When staff members are intentionally or unintentionally abusive or neglectful, the consequences can be life-threatening.
- Animal Attacks. When an unprovoked dog attacks a person the owner can be held responsible for their pet’s actions. Dog attacks can result in serious consequences, including death.
- Premises Liability. Property owners are supposed to ensure their property is safe for others to inhabit. In the event there are hazardous conditions, a visitor could get seriously hurt. If, for example, a broken step causes a person to slip and fall and hit their head, they could sustain permanent brain damage.
If your loved one passed in a different type of accident, you may still have grounds for a claim. Our attorneys can evaluate the circumstances of your loved one’s death and determine if there is something worth legally pursuing.
How Can an Attorney Help You File a Wrongful Death Claim?
In Kentucky, an appointed personal representative is responsible for bringing the decedent’s claim to court. If that appointed individual is a family member, it can be an overwhelming challenge to seek justice for their loved one’s death and compensation to secure their family’s future. An attorney can ensure a thorough investigation is completed and the family has all the evidence and figures they need to present the strongest case possible.
The investigation will help ensure the family and court knows exactly why the individual died. It’s likely the guilty party will not be entirely forthcoming, so an investigation can bring to light what happened and why it happened.
Your attorney can also make sure you do not have to deal with insurance companies alone – who may be trying to present you with a quick and unfair offer to prevent a potential lawsuit. We’ll make sure you’re not offered less than you’re owed.
It’s also important to note that claims of this nature in Kentucky are under a strict statute of limitations. You have one year from when your loved one passed away to file a wrongful death claim. One year isn’t a lot of time so it’s important to meet with your attorney as soon as possible. They will ensure you do not miss out on your opportunity for justice and compensation.
How Are Wrongful Death Claims Proven?
Once your claim has been filed, there are various elements of a wrongful death case that need to be proven before compensation is awarded to the family. Your lawyer will know what your claim needs for it to be successful. Typically, the following must be proven:
- Duty of Care. Your lawyer must prove to the court that the negligent party owed a duty of care to your loved one. If, for example, the defendant is a doctor, their duty of care was to provide the accepted standard of care to their patient when diagnosing and treating.
- Breach of Duty of Care. After proving duty of care, it needs to be shown that the duty was breached. Again, if the situation is regarding possible medical malpractice, your lawyer will have to prove the doctor provided care that was insufficient and that another medical professional would have acted differently.
- Causation. To prove causation, your lawyer will need to show how your loved one died as a result of the negligent party’s breach of duty of care. Continuing with the medical malpractice example, if your loved one’s doctor prescribed an improper dosage of medication and the medication caused your loved one’s death, wrongful death can likely be proven.
What Damages Can You Seek with a Wrongful Death Claim?
You may have depended on your loved one for different types of support: financial, emotional, and division of household labor. Suddenly losing that person could possibly mean losing your way of life. When you file a wrongful death claim, your settlement can help you maintain your way of life.
In this type of case, damages typically fall into two categories. The first category allows the recovery of damages experienced by the decedent from the moment the negligent act that resulted in death occurred, until the time of the passing. Damages that fall into this category include medical expenses, the suffering experienced by the deceased, their lost wages, and funeral and burial expenses.
The second category of damages covers the losses the family members experience as a result of their loved one’s death. These monetary awards are meant to compensate the survivors for their financial losses and replace what the loved one would have earned if not for their untimely death. Lost wages, job benefits, and retirement are taken into consideration. Loss of consortium is included in some cases where a spouse or children are deprived of the deceased’s love and companionship. This also applies if a parent dies and a minor is left without guidance from that parent.
While these damages won’t undo what was done, it will give you peace of mind that you have financial support for the future. You won’t have to worry about bills or paychecks and can focus on grieving for your loved one.
How Can Hiring an Experienced Law Firm Help You?
While we recognize that taking legal action on behalf of your loved one cannot bring them back, it can secure a future for you and your family. At Golden Law Office we will handle the claim on behalf of your loved one with compassion, diligence, and urgency. We have obtained millions of dollars from at-fault parties and insurance companies as a result of a loved one’s wrongful death. To learn more about your options with a free consultation, get in touch with us today.