There are few events more devastating than the loss of a loved one. The grief you experience can grow exponentially more painful, however, when it is compounded by the knowledge that another party may have been responsible for your loss. Here in Kentucky, state law allows you to fight for the compensation your family deserves in the event of a preventable death, and that means you may be entitled to significant legal recourse for the tragedy that has occurred.
The key is understanding how the legal system works and what it does and does not cover, so that you can more effectively channel your energy in the wake of such a destructive event. You will also need the help of a Louisville, KY wrongful death lawyer.
What Is a Wrongful Death?
The term itself has a number of legal definitions, and together these prescribe the full set of legally actionable fatalities. The most common by far is a death associated with an auto accident, including truck drivers and motorcyclists who have been the victims of a fatal collision. Wrongful death may also include acts of medical malpractice, including poor palliative care, nursing home negligence and defective medical devices. A third category covers unforeseen catastrophic injury in a workplace, private residence or a public space, and these may include anything from a tragic slip-and-fall to a major accident involving badly designed or mislabeled machinery.
Who Can File a Kentucky Wrongful Death Claim?
It is important as well to understand who can act as a plaintiff in a wrongful death case. Here in Kentucky, the Executor or Administrator of the deceased individual’s estate has the right and obligation to pursue legal actions on behalf of the estate itself. In other cases, the law narrowly defines who has claims in the event of a wrongful death, and that list is limited to parents, spouses and children of the deceased. Some efforts have been made to include engaged persons, common law partners and people involved in civil unions, but so far precedent has not favored anyone who falls outside the traditional categories. Thankfully, the people who are covered under state law have some leeway in building their cases – typically the Statute of Limitations is one year following the death or one year following the assignment of an attorney before commencing a cause of action. It is important to contact an attorney to determine the Statute of Limitations in your particular case to ensure your rights are protected.
Many people believe the term ‘wrongful death’ implies a moral argument as well, but in fact the term refers to any act that might have been avoided. If there is malicious intent, willful negligence or cruelty involved, Kentucky law allows juries to account for such extenuating circumstances in their assignment of damages. Short of such clear intention, however, juries in wrongful death damages take into account the victim’s current and future earning potential, the victim’s age, any benefits lost and all medical and funeral expenses associated with the death. The cost of pain and anguish may be levied above and beyond this figure.
Call A Compassionate Louisville Wrongful Death Attorney Today
It is essential to retain experienced counsel early if someone you love has been the victim of a wrongful death. Negotiating the legal landscape associated with major accidents can be difficult enough without a fluent understanding of Kentucky’s relevant statutes, so most experts recommend working with a legal professional from day one. If you have any questions about the most effective way to proceed, do not hesitate to call Thomas Law Offices and speak with a skilled Louisville personal injury attorney today.