If you’ve recently lost a loved one and feel as though the death could have been prevented, you may have the grounds for a lawsuit. Our Louisville wrongful death lawyers can look into your case and determine what your best options are. We understand how difficult it can be to cope with the death of a family member, especially when the death was unexpected. This is why we’re dedicated to helping families recover during this trying time.
This area of law gives families the ability to seek justice after losing a loved one because of someone else’s negligence. If you’ve lost a family member in a situation like this, Thomas Law Offices can guide you through the legal process and help you seek the compensation you need to manage the expenses associated with your loss.
In order to proceed with your claim, you may benefit from understanding what defines a wrongful death, how they commonly occur, and what taking legal action with us looks like. Let’s begin.
How Kentucky Defines Wrongful Death
According to the legal definition provided by Kentucky Statutes section 411.130, a wrongful death occurs when a person dies from an injury resulting from another entity’s negligence or wrongful behavior. Those behaviors, or acts, could be reckless or intentional. This section of law also establishes when legal action can be taken for the death of a person. Here’s an overview of what the statute says:
- When a person dies a wrongful death, damages can be recovered from the person or entity who caused it.
- If the action resulted from gross negligence, punitive damages may also be sought.
- After the funeral and attorney expenses have been paid, the remaining compensation will go to the surviving family members in a specific order:
- If there is a surviving spouse but no children, the entire sum goes to the spouse.
- In the event a spouse and child are left behind, both parties receive half the compensation.
- If there is a child but no spouse, the surviving child receives the financial award.
- If the deceased left no spouse or children, the recovery will go to the parents.
- If there are no spouses, children, or parents living, the money will be used to pay off any debts attached to the deceased’s estate. Any remaining money will be passed to kindred more remote than those discussed above, according to the law of descent and distribution.
While coping with the loss of a loved one, it can seem difficult to understand how wrongful death laws work, especially because of how complex they can be. Our attorneys can explain the laws in ways that make sense, so you are fully aware of how your loved one’s estate will be handled.
Common Causes of Wrongful Death
While an unexpected loss of life can occur at any time for a multitude of reasons, there are patterns when it comes to wrongful death. This is because there are certain situations where negligent actions occur more often. Below you’ll find some of the more common causes of wrongful death.
Car Accidents. While there are a number of traffic laws in place to keep travelers safe, there are drivers who choose to disregard those laws. When a driver uses a cell phone, neglects to obey the rules of the road, or drives carelessly, they’re actively choosing to put others’ lives at risk. In the event they seriously hurt or kill someone, they should be held accountable for their actions.
Medical Malpractice. There are times when we have to trust medical professionals with our lives. When they make serious mistakes, the consequences can be dire. While many doctors, nurses, surgeons, and medical staff are completely competent and qualified to do their jobs, there are individuals out there who practice medicine irresponsibly. If there are instances of communication errors, inadequate experience, or fatigue issues, the patients can suffer.
Motorcycle Wrecks. Motorcycles give riders a sense of freedom you just can’t get while inside a car or truck. Unfortunately, not all drivers responsibly share the road with these two-wheeled vehicles. Motorcycle accidents can be devastating, especially considering the exposure the operator has to the elements.
Product Liability. When we purchase a product we do so with the expectation it will work, and work correctly. We wouldn’t expect the product to harm us in any way; however, there are instances where defective products end in wrongful deaths. When a product suffers defects as a result of improper planning, manufacturing, or distribution, consumers are put at risk.
Truck Crashes. Because of their size, trucks pose unique dangers on the road. If they are not operated and maintained properly, other drivers on the road could suffer as a result.
No matter what kind of accident resulted in your loved one’s wrongful death, our personal injury attorneys will investigate your claim and work towards achieving the results you deserve.
Taking Legal Action for a Wrongful Death
In order to file a successful lawsuit, you’ll need an experienced wrongful death lawyer at your said. With a lawyer from Thomas Law Offices, you’ll be able to recover financially from your loss. In Kentucky, you’re required to have a personal representative from the deceased’s estate bring the claim to court. One of our lawyers can act as your loved one’s personal representative.
A wrongful death claim is considered to be a civil case, which means liability is expressed only in terms of monetary damages. A criminal case can be pursued at the same time and be based on the same set of facts; however, the actual legal processes are very different.
The estate’s personal representative will be able to present the claim and prove why compensation should be awarded. With a successful case, damages are typically distributed first to the estate for funeral, burial, and final medical expenses. The surviving family members will receive the remainder of the award.
It’s important to remember that, like other personal injury claims, wrongful death claims are subject to a statute of limitations. In Kentucky, the claim must be filed within one year of the date on which the decedent died. If this deadline is missed, it’s likely the court will dismiss the case.
Contact a Louisville Wrongful Death Lawyer
As you can see from what we discussed above, wrongful death claims and lawsuits are often incredibly complex. Without the right legal team by your side, you may not reach the outcome your family needs or deserves. Our wrongful death attorneys in Louisville have years of experience handling complicated cases like this and will do everything we can to ensure the negligent party is held responsible for your loved one’s death. Reach out to us today for a free case evaluation.