flower arrangement on a casket at a funeralYour loved one went to the emergency room and asked for medical help. Unfortunately, the medical attention she needed wasn't quick enough. The delay was not just inconvenient and frustrating, and it did more than cause your loved one unnecessary pain.

This time, the delay in treatment caused your loved one’s death.

Now you are left mourning and wondering what, if anything, you can do to hold the emergency room or hospital accountable for her death.

Can You File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A Kentucky wrongful death case is brought for the benefit of the decedent’s estate. Any damages that are recovered in a wrongful death case go to the estate and are distributed according to the terms of the decedent’s will. In most cases, this means that any damages recovered in a delay in medical treatment wrongful death case will benefit the person’s closest relatives such as the spouse, children, or parents.

Because the potential damages are for the benefit of the estate, it is the personal representative of the estate who has the legal authority to file a lawsuit, even though it is not the personal representative of the estate who will recover the damages. Your loved one likely appointed a personal representative in his will. If she did not name a personal representative or did not have a will, you may ask the court to appoint a personal representative.

Successful Wrongful Death Cases

Your loved one’s estate will recover damages in a wrongful death case if the following is proven in court:

  • The hospital owed her a duty of care. If the emergency room or hospital staff accepted her as a patient, then they owed her a duty of care.
  • The hospital staff failed to act like reasonable hospital staff should act. If the emergency room or hospital staff failed to use reasonable care, they breached their duty of care.
  • The hospital’s negligence caused her death. In other words, she would not have died when she did but for the delay in treatment.
  • You have a legal right to pursue damages. You have the standing to sue, and there are damages that may be recovered due to the emergency room’s negligence.

If the case is successful, the estate may recover wrongful death damages for anything that resulted directly from the delay in medical treatment, including:

  • Medical expenses your loved one incurred before death
  • Lost income
  • Out-of-pocket costs including funeral and burial expenses
  • Physical pain and emotional suffering
  • Emotional suffering of family members
  • Loss of consortium

Additionally, punitive damages may be possible in some cases.

Don’t Wait to Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney

You only have a short amount of time to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Kentucky. According to the Kentucky Statute of Limitations, you generally have one year after a personal representative has been appointed for your loved one’s estate, or two years from the date that your loved one died, to file a lawsuit.

You should not wait this long, however, to contact a wrongful death lawyer. There are two benefits to contacting a lawyer as soon as possible. First, your lawyer can make sure that all witnesses are found and that all evidence is preserved. The closer in time to your loved one’s death this happens, the more likely it is that witnesses and relevant evidence will be found. Second, the sooner you start a case, the sooner damages can be awarded, and your case may be resolved.

You can contact an experienced Kentucky wrongful death lawyer right now—free of charge. Our experienced medical malpractice and wrongful death attorneys would be pleased to provide you with a free consultation so that you can make an informed decision about what to do next. Call us or contact us through this website any time – 24/7/365 – to schedule your free consultation and to learn more about your rights.

Mark K. Gray
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Louisville attorney serving the seriously injured in Kentucky

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