Common Causes of Wrongful Death Claims in Kentucky
Wrongful death lawsuits are often the result of one of the following types of accidents caused by the negligent or intentional actions of someone else:
- Car and truck accidents. Auto accidents are one of the leading causes of injury and death in Kentucky and across the United States. Whether it was a drunk driver, distracted driver, drowsy driver, or otherwise negligent driver who hurt you or killed your loved one, you may have the right to recover damages.
- Nursing home negligence or abuse. Many injuries and deaths in long-term care facilities are never investigated. Unfortunately, many of these injuries and fatalities are caused by physical abuse, emotional abuse, and neglect that often includes malnutrition, dehydration, falls, medication errors, bedsores and infections like UTI's. If someone you love has been hurt or has died in a nursing home, then you should report the incident and contact an experienced Kentucky nursing home abuse lawyer to ensure the incident is properly investigated before it's too late.
- Medical malpractice. After a medical error results in permanent injury or sudden death, it's critical to discuss the situation with an attorney to avoid making any mistakes that could potentially hurt your case. Not all medical errors are unavoidable accidents; sometimes surgical errors and physician mistakes are forms of malpractice that occur because of negligence.
- Dangerous drugs and defective medical products. When corporations bypass sufficient safety procedures and put profits above people, their products put patients and consumers at great risk. Pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers are often aware of potential risks and fail to warn the public in order get products to market more quickly. When these companies skip steps in the process, it can result in serious injuries or cause the death of many people.
If someone you know has died because of someone else’s negligent or intentional actions, then you need to know what to do to protect your recovery and your future. In both a personal injury case and a wrongful death case, it comes down to proving the negligent actions of another party are directly responsible for what happened. An experienced and tenacious wrongful death attorney can help make this happen.
While this may seem like an easy task, it's important to understand what you're up against. Before making any decisions that could significantly affect you and your family's future, contact an experienced attorney that can answer your questions, explain your legal options, and has the resources available to fight for the compensation you deserve.
Differences Between Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Cases
While the causes of personal injury and wrongful death claims may be the same, the laws governing the individual claims and types of damages you can recover sometimes differ. Accordingly, it is important to consider the following after an accident leaves you without your loved one.
How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Under Kentucky law, the statute of limitations determines how long the families of wrongful death victims have to file a claim. Generally, you have one year after the accident to file a personal injury claim. For wrongful death claims, families have one year after an executor has been appointed or two years after the date of death to bring a case against the responsible party. However, there are nuances to both of these time limits that you should be aware of. Learn more by reviewing the information on these pages:
- Statute of limitations for Kentucky personal injury cases
- Statute of limitations for Kentucky wrongful death cases
During this difficult time, it is important to take action so that you are not forced to live without rightful compensation for your injuries or a loved one’s death.
Who Can File a Lawsuit?
Kentucky law determines who has standing to sue—or the right to file a lawsuit and recover damages. In a personal injury case, you may bring a case if you were the one who was hurt, if you are the parent or legal guardian of someone under the age of 18, or if you are the court-appointed guardian of someone over the age of 18.
In a wrongful death case, you have the right to file a lawsuit if you are the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. If your loved one has died without a will naming a personal representative, then you may ask the court to make the appointment so that a case may proceed.
What if a Serious Injury Ultimately Results in Death?
It is possible for what begins as a personal injury lawsuit to ultimately become a wrongful death case. Kentucky Revised Statutes, Chapter 411.133 allows for the joinder—a legal term meaning “joining together”—of wrongful death and personal injury actions. This means that the personal representative bringing a wrongful death case may seek compensation for the damages related to the decedent’s personal injuries prior to death. Thus, wrongful death and personal injury damages may be sought in one case.
A Wrongful Death Attorney Works to Assure the Family Receives Just Compensation
In both personal injury and wrongful death cases, you may seek compensation for past, current, and future:
- Medical expenses. All health care costs—including doctors’ visits, hospital stays, surgeries, medications, medical devices, and rehabilitation therapies—may be included in your recovery.
- Lost income. All lost income—including wages, bonuses, benefits, and income from self-employment—may be compensable.
- Out-of-pocket costs. This includes property damage, transportation costs, child care costs, household help, and other expenses that are directly related to your injuries or the injuries or death of your loved one.
- Pain and suffering. Physical pain and emotional suffering can be significant and may be compensable. Additionally, if your loved one suffered emotionally or physically from the time of the accident until the time of death, then these types of damages may be included in your recovery.
- Punitive damages. Punitive damages are only allowed in certain circumstances. They are meant to punish the person who caused the injury or death rather than to compensate the victim(s). According to Kentucky Revised Statutes Chapter 411.130, which governs wrongful death cases,
“Whenever the death of a person results from an injury inflicted by the negligence or wrongful act of another, damages may be recovered for the death from the person who caused it, or whose agent or servant caused it. If the act was willful or the negligence gross, punitive damages may be recovered…”
Additional damages may be recovered in wrongful death cases, including:
- Funeral and burial expenses. This includes all expenses related to the funeral, burial or memorial service.
- Pain and suffering of surviving family members. This would technically be brought in a survival action. However, survival actions and wrongful death cases are often combined.
- Loss of consortium. In Kentucky, a spouse can recover for any loss of services, assistance, aid, society, companionship and conjugal relationship that the wrongful death has caused.
You can learn more about wrongful death laws and how the value of your claim may be determined by downloading our free legal guide: Critical Information to Know Before Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Kentucky.
Take Action to Protect Your Rights Today, Speak to a Kentucky Wrongful Death Attorney
Kentucky law may allow you to recover damages in a personal injury or wrongful death claim. However, the insurance company that is responsible for paying that claim wants to pay you as little as possible in damages so that it can maximize its own profits. Anything that you say to an insurance adjuster or sign from the insurance company can negatively impact your right to recover fair damages.
You don’t have to risk saying the wrong thing or signing your rights away. Instead, you have the right to work with an experienced attorney who will fight hard to get you the fair and just recovery that you deserve.
This may be the first time that you need a personal injury lawyer or wrongful death attorney. You may be hesitant to call, but think about what could happen if you don’t act quickly to protect your rights. Medical expenses, funeral expenses, lost income, and other costs can add up to astronomical numbers that forever change your family’s finances. You didn’t cause the accident, and you shouldn’t be the one who has to bear the financial burden.
We represent only clients who have been seriously injured or who have lost a loved one. We provide each client with the personal attention he deserves. When you hire an attorney at Gray & White Law, you hire the entire nationally recognized law firm to work for you. We will always answer your questions and provide you with the individualized support that you need. Learn more about us and about how we can help you through this difficult time by scheduling a free, confidential consultation with us today.