Compassionate Wrongful Death Attorneys
At McCoy & Sparks, we understand how difficult it is to lose a loved one, especially when it is from an accident that could have been avoided. We can’t lessen your grief, but we can help you file a claim for financial compensation from the person or company that was at fault. The death of a loved one is unimaginably tragic; you should not have to suffer financially as well after experiencing the devastating blow of losing a loved one. Our law firm has handled many wrongful death lawsuits and are extremely familiar with and experienced in this type of lawsuit. Our wrongful death lawyers have the skill, knowledge, and compassion to guide you through the process. You are not alone.
Call for a free consultation: 844-4KY-WINS or contact us online.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Kentucky Revised Statutes § 411.130 defines wrongful death as:
“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. The action shall be prosecuted by the personal representative of the deceased.”
Negligence is a failure to behave with the level of care that would is expected by reasonable people. It can consist of actions but also of omission. Examples of negligence leading to a wrongful death might be anything from a lack of warning of barriers before roadworks leading to a car accident to a broken chair in a casino to water on a supermarket floor. Wrongful deaths can be caused by medical malpractice or defective products. Most wrongful death cases involve vehicles, such as in accidents caused by speeding or distracted drivers.
Wrongful death action can also be taken against people who intentionally killed others. Keep in mind that in these cases, there may be a criminal case as well as a civil lawsuit. Both types of cases have different intended outcomes: if a defendant is found guilty in a criminal trial, that could lead to incarceration. If they are found liable in a civil case, the result would be financial compensation to the victim(s).
The state of Kentucky has strict laws about who is entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit. First, the probate court must appoint a personal representative for the estate of the person who died. This representative, also called an executor or an administrator, is commonly deemed the estate’s personal representative and is such person is the only one that can file the wrongful death lawsuit. Generally speaking, in Kentucky, there is a statute of limitations allowing you one year from the date of the death or appointment of the representative (if within that year) for a wrongful death case to be filed. That limitation can vary and the calculation of time is very specific to the circumstances of the case.
Examples of some recent Settlements McCoy & Sparks Has Won in Wrongful Death Lawsuits:
- $1,030,000 Wrongful Death Settlement. Our client was the husband of his young wife who was killed by a negligent driver on a Kentucky roadway. We filed suit, used a top-notch accident reconstructionist to prove that she was not at fault, and ultimately recovered over the limits of the policy.
- Large multi-million-dollar settlement against an company and its driver stemming from a wrongful death claim. After the death of our client, the family’s claim was denied based on a claim that the policy was canceled. We obtained a judgment against the driver’s company and then moved against the carrier for the wrongful denial of coverage. We prevailed on the coverage issue before the trial court and were then able to obtain settlements.
- $500,000 Wrongful Death Settlement arising from the death of a young father in Louisville.
- $425,000 settlement against multiple defendants stemming from the wrongful death of our client, who was killed when the Commonwealth of Kentucky violated numerous highway maintenance policies. The claim also involved a separate motorist and the client’s UIM coverage.
- $350,000 Wrongful Death Settlement. Our client suffered complications as a result of the injuries caused by a significant crash. She ultimately passed away. We were able to settle the case for her family for all available insurance coverage.
- $300,000 Wrongful Death Settlement. Our client’s family came to us after the investigating police agency found that he was the “at-fault” party. We hired top-notch accident reconstructionists, filed suit, and ultimately settled the case for the available insurance limits.
Damages recovered in a wrongful death claim can include:
- Emergency room costs
- Medical expenses
- Funeral and burial costs
- Loss of wages: an economist will have to prove how much money (future wage claims) the diseased person could reasonably have been expected to earn (including Social Security) if they had lived to the age of a normal life expectancy.
- Court costs
- Loss of consortium: Think of “consortium” as “companionship.” Basically, a jury may award a financial amount to compensate a spouse and/or child for the lack of love and affection. Only children under the age of 18 are eligible for this money.
- Pain and suffering: Another type of claim that can be considered is the pain and suffering of the deceased. However, in Kentucky, the plaintiff has to prove actual pain and suffering. For example, if someone dies instantly, Kentucky does not automatically assume that there was pain or suffering.
- Punitive damages: It is harder to prove punitive damages because those are intended not so much to compensate those left behind as to punish the responsible party. The wrongdoer would have to have caused death intentionally (such as in an assault or murder) or to have been grossly negligent (such as in a drunk driving case).
The CDC reports that the most common types of wrongful deaths in the United States are:
- Car, truck, and motorcycle accidents (In 2018, 724 people lost their lives on public roads in Kentucky.)
- Pedestrian and bicycle accidents (79 pedestrians were killed in traffic accidents in Kentucky in 2018.)
- Premises liability accidents involving slip and fall injuries or being struck by or against an object
- Product liability cases, in which a defective or dangerous product results in accident injury and death
- Medical malpractice errors and mistakes
- Accidental poisonings, medication errors, and overdoses
- Drowning, boating, and recreation accidents
- On-the-job accidents and illnesses
Once the Claim Is Settled, Who Receives the Damages?
The estate receives money for funeral and burial expenses as well as reasonable court costs. Under Kentucky law, the family of the loved one receives any additional money in the following order:
- If the deceased leaves a spouse but no children, the money goes to the spouse.
- If the deceased leaves a widow and children or widower and children, half goes to the remaining spouse and half to the children.
- If there is no spouse, but there is a child or children, the entire amount is awarded to the child or children.
- If there is no remaining spouse or surviving children, the recovery goes to the mother and/or father of the diseased.
- If none of these scenarios exist, the recovery goes to the estate of the deceased and then is disbursed according to “kindred more remote than those above named, according to the law of descent and distribution,” according to Kentucky Statute 411.130.
At McCoy & Sparks, our top-rated personal injury attorneys will work to get you the justice you deserve.
Our experienced legal team has extensive knowledge of Kentucky law and a proven track record of maximizing the recovery of damages for people like you.
We care, and we will fight for you. Please read some of our many client testimonials on Facebook and Google Reviews. For instance, Mary Helene Pottker Rosenbaum recommended us with this review: “Great People, friendly and warm and super competent. They saw me through the difficult process of my wrongful death suit over my late husband with very satisfactory results and — more important — sympathy and support.”
We are based in Bardstown, but we represent clients throughout Central Kentucky.
If you have lost a loved one and believe you may have a wrongful death case: