There are few things more heartbreaking than experiencing the death of a loved one. When that death is due to someone else’s negligent conduct, surviving family members may feel even more distressed and angry. An attorney can help you pursue a wrongful death claim and get you the financial assistance you deserve. While no amount of money could ever replace the person you and your family lost, holding the liable party accountable can help you and your family get the closure you need to move forward.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Under Kentucky law, a wrongful death occurs when someone dies from an injury caused by the negligence or unlawful act of another. To succeed in a wrongful death action, you must prove the decedent died due to someone else’s negligence or wrongful act. Proving a negligence claim is complex and requires the assistance of a qualified attorney.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Kentucky?
Kentucky law explicitly states that individual family members are not permitted to file wrongful death actions. Instead, the claim must be brought by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. The personal representative files the wrongful death action on behalf of the estate, and the proceeds from the lawsuit are distributed among surviving family members.
The proceeds of successful wrongful death actions may be distributed as follows:
- The surviving spouse receives all the proceeds if the decedent is married and has no children;
- If the decedent was married with children, the spouse and children are entitled to equal damages;
- If the decedent did not have a spouse but had children, the children receive all damages;
- If the decedent had no spouse and no children, the decedent’s parent receives all proceeds from the lawsuit; and
- If the decedent had no spouse, children, or parents, the distribution goes toward the decedent’s estate.
A wrongful death action in Kentucky must usually be filed within one year of the decedent’s death. A failure to file in this prescribed time period bars you from bringing a claim at a later date. Speaking with a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible is vital to the success of your claim. As your family moves toward healing from such a tragic event, your attorney works to get your wrongful death lawsuit filed on time so you can obtain the compensation you and your loved ones need.
Is There a Wrongful Death Lawsuit Average Settlement?
As you and your family begin to pursue a lawsuit against the liable party, you may wonder, How much is the average wrongful death settlement? Unfortunately, there is no average wrongful death payout. Multiple common factors can impact how much compensation you receive. Your attorney reviews the details of your case to determine how these factors may affect you and your family’s total compensatory award. The common factors affecting a wrongful death settlement include the following:
- Medical expenses incurred before death,
- Financial support that the decedent would have provided had they survived,
- Cost of caring for any dependents of the decedent,
- The age and health of the decedent,
- Circumstances of the accident that caused the wrongful death,
- How many minor children the decedent had at the time of their death, and
- The age of the minor children.
Kentucky does not have a limit on how much compensation you can recover through a wrongful death award. While these elements may decrease or increase your wrongful death settlement, your attorney works to help you and your family obtain the highest value payout possible.
What Can I Recover in an Average Payout for Wrongful Death?
Recoverable damages available in an average wrongful death settlement are identified as economic damages and noneconomic damages. These damages cover the losses accrued between the time of the event that injured your loved one and their passing.
Economic damages represent financial losses directly related to the decedent’s injuries and include the following:
- Medical expenses. A wrongful death claim includes the decedent’s emergency medical care or other healthcare expenses incurred because of their injuries before death.
- Lost wages. Loved ones may obtain compensation the decedent would have earned if they had lived and recovered from their injuries.
- Loss of future earnings. The personal representative may also seek compensation for the decedent’s lost future wages in a wrongful death lawsuit if the loved one’s surviving family members relied on the decedent for financial support.
Evidence for economic damages is found in tangible evidence such as invoices, pay stubs, tax returns, medical bills, and other similar documentation.
Noneconomic damages represent emotional and psychological losses related to the decedent’s passing and include the following:
- Loss of consortium. These losses are experienced by a spouse who no longer has the decedent’s companionship, love, and support.
- Loss of guidance. Survivors, such as surviving children, may recover losses for any instruction or advice the decedent would have provided them had they lived.
- Pain and suffering. The personal representative may pursue damages for the pain and suffering endured by the decedent from the moment of their injury until their death.
Because noneconomic damages are difficult to quantify, they can be challenging to recover without the assistance of a qualified attorney. You and your family deserve to recover all the damages available from the negligent party, and an experienced attorney can help you do that.
At Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC, we understand that losing a loved one is an incredibly overwhelming and heart-wrenching experience, especially when the death was preventable. You deserve to hold the person responsible for your loved one’s death accountable so that you can see that justice is done. Your chances of victory are much higher when you select a lawyer who is just as passionate about your claim as you are. Seth Gladstein fights hard for those who cannot fight for themselves. At Gladstein Law Firm, PLLC, our team is dedicated to helping our clients recover the compensation they need to move forward after the loss of a loved one. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.