Wrongful Death and Fatal Accidents in Louisville, KY
If you have lost a loved one because someone acted in a reckless or negligent manner, you and your family are devastated, especially if the death was preventable. Wrongful death can also leave surviving family members with financial burdens that compound their grief, making it imperative that the guilty parties are held accountable.
At The Schafer Law Office, we strive to lift the financial stresses you are experiencing. We will advocate on your behalf and make sure you understand your legal rights and options in a wrongful death claim.
Wrongful Death FAQs
If you’ve been impacted by a wrongful death in Louisville or surrounding areas, you may have some questions. The personal injury attorneys at The Schafer Law Office have the answers!
- How Do You Begin A Wrongful Death Case?
- Who’s Allowed To Recover In A Wrongful Death Or Fatal Accident Case?
- How Is The Money Divided?
- What Type Of Claims Are Recoverable In A Wrongful Death Case?
- After Your Kentucky Wrongful Death Or Fatal Accident
- What if a Government Entity is at Fault?
- How Does Comparative Fault Affect a Wrongful Death Claim?
- What is Actual Loss of Earnings in Kentucky Wrongful Death Cases?
- Are Medical and Other Healthcare Expenses Incurred Before Death Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Claim?
How Do You Begin a Wrongful Death Case?
A wrongful death case can only be brought by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. Therefore, the first step is for the Probate Court to appoint a personal representative. Then a petition must be filed to probate the will. This is done in the probate office in the county of residence.
If your loved one had a will at the time of death, an administrator would be appointed. If there was no will, an executor is appointed. Usually, a surviving family member or close relative of the deceased acts as the personal representative of the estate.
Who’s Allowed to Recover in a Wrongful Death or Fatal Accident Case?
Many people are surprised to learn that Kentucky law only allows certain family members to recover for the wrongful death of a loved one. This is the case whether the death occurred as the result of a tragic vehicle accident or from some other negligent action caused by a third party.
In most wrongful death and fatal accident cases, recovery and compensation are limited to a surviving spouse and children. However, you should always contact a Louisville wrongful death lawyer to confirm who is entitled to receive money from the settlement.
How is the Money Divided?
The Kentucky Revised Statutes list the order in which the heirs-at-law can have the settlement or jury verdict amount distributed.
- Generally, the surviving spouse receives 50% and the surviving children receive 50% divided equally between them.
- If there are no children, then all of the money would go to the surviving spouse.
- If there is no spouse, then all of the money would be divided equally among the children.
- If there is no spouse and no children, then the victim’s parents are the beneficiary.
The estate is typically allowed to claim the following damages for the deceased family member:
- Lost earnings
- Medical expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Pain and suffering experienced by the victim before death
- Punitive damages
It is important to note that these damages may only be recovered once- double recovery is not allowed, even in situations where death is not immediate.
What Type of Claims are Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Case?
Your loved one’s estate may claim loss of the income that they were reasonably expected to earn over the course of their lifetime, as well as-
- Any pain and suffering experienced between the time of the injury and death.
- Any medical bills they incurred after the accident
In the case of the wrongful death of a child, the surviving parent may be able to recover for loss of consortium. That is the right of association and companionship with a loved one. In the case of a surviving spouse, they may be able to file a claim for loss of consortium in some instances.
What if a Government Entity is at Fault?
If you want to file a wrongful death claim against a government entity, like a municipality, there may be immunity issues you need to consider.
Sovereign immunity is a very complex area of law. In Kentucky, you can only bring an action against the state in the Board of Claims, which is an administrative proceeding. You can recover for expenses like medical bills, funeral costs, and loss of income, but not pain or suffering. The amount recovered can be no more than $250,000.
In some cases, you can only file a lawsuit after you have filed and/or served notice upon the defendant within 60 days after the incident. These “pre-filing” laws are very strict and need to be observed to preserve your claim. This is another reason why it is extremely important to consult with an experienced wrongful death attorney.
How Does Comparative Fault Affect a Wrongful Death Claim?
Kentucky is a comparative fault state. This means that even if the deceased was partly at fault for a fatal accident, the estate can still file a claim. A percentage of fault or negligence would be assigned to each side, impacting how much you may recover.
By way of example, let’s assume that your loved one did not have their seat belt on when they were struck by a distracted driver. If a jury decides that it contributed to the death, they will place a percentage of fault on that omission. If the jury places a 25% fault on the deceased and awards a judgment of $1,000,000, the award would be reduced by 25%. In other words, the estate would collect $750,000.
What is Actual Loss of Earnings in Kentucky Wrongful Death Cases?
Actual loss of earnings refers to how much income your loved one would have earned had the death not occurred. This figure can be calculated by determining the amount of money they would have made from the date of death to the present date and the amount that they would have made in the future.
For example, if your mother was a school teacher earning a salary of $40,000 per year and died in an accident, the lawsuit would claim the amount of unearned money from the date of death to the present time. The lawsuit would also review how many more years she would have likely worked before retirement.
These future earnings would be increased for the rate of inflation every year. It is also necessary to consider expected annual pay raises. When the future earnings number is totaled up, an economist then uses a formula to reduce the total amount to the present value.
Are Medical and Other Healthcare Expenses Incurred Before Death Recoverable in a Wrongful Death Claim?
If your loved one is injured in a car accident and dies after weeks in the hospital, you can recover the expenses for their necessary health care. This element of compensation can be very high, especially if they need trauma room care and surgical intervention.
Efforts to collect this damage are frequently offset by the reimbursement claims asserted by Medicare, Medicaid, or a health insurance plan which paid the medical expenses, resulting in little net gain for the estate or the wrongful death claimants.
After Your Wrongful Death or Fatal Accident
If you live in Louisville or the surrounding areas and you’ve lost a loved one due to the negligence of another driver, you need to get legal advice as soon as possible. You’ll want to make sure any evidence that will help your case can still be gathered, and you’ll want to make sure that the evidence is not destroyed. A wrongful death attorney can help you understand your case and Kentucky law. You want an attorney who cares about you and you’ll soon find that and much more in Mike Schafer, Bryan Meader, and The Schafer Law Office.
With Mike Schafer and Bryan Meader on your side, you’ll be in good hands. The Schafer Law Office has been helping personal injury victims get compensated for more than 25 years. Unlike the big law firms in Louisville who will have other people work on your case, Mike or Bryan is personally involved in every case.
The Schafer Law Office knows the challenges and pitfalls of personal injury cases (especially in Kentucky), all the tactics of the “other” side and how to best present the facts. They can handle the brutal tactics of the insurance companies. In fact, before Mike opened The Schafer Law Office in personal injury and accident law, Mike worked for an insurance defense firm. They really know all the tactics the insurance companies have up their sleeves.
Wrongful Death in Kentucky Book
This book is for those who need help and are looking for what’s best in their case. In most Kentucky wrongful death cases, the estate has the claim for damages. The Kentucky Revised Statutes lists the order in which the heirs-at-law can have the settlement or jury verdict amount distributed. Generally, the surviving spouse receives 50% and the surviving children receive 50% divided equally between them. The estate is typically allowed to claim the following damages for the deceased family member:
- Lost earnings
- Medical expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Pain and suffering experienced by decedent before death
“Wrongful Death In Kentucky” Table of Contents
- Dedication and Acknowledgements
- Chapter 1: The Basics About Kentucky Wrongful Death Cases
- Chapter 2: How to Plan a Funeral After an Unexpected Fatal Accident
- Chapter 3: Probate and the Estate
- Chapter 4: The Prelitigation Process
- Chapter 5: What is a Wrongful Death Case Worth?
- Chapter 6: The Litigation Process
- Chapter 7: Distribution of a Wrongful Death Award
- Chapter 8: Understanding Your Grief
- Chapter 9: Problems to Talk to Your Teen Driver About
- Final Thoughts
The Schafer Law Office
In most fatal accident and wrongful death cases, recovery and compensation is limited to a surviving spouse and children. If you are in the unfortunate position of having a family member or loved one who has suffered an untimely death due to the negligence of another, The Schafer Law Office can help. The Schafer Law Office realizes that this is a very traumatic, emotional experience. The Schafer Law Office has handled these types of cases for years and has experience investigating, pursuing and settling wrongful death claims.
Note: If you don’t qualify for a FREE copy of this book (you are not a Kentucky resident), you can buy it at Amazon by clicking here.
Call a Louisville Wrongful Death Lawyer
If you live in Louisville or the surrounding areas and you’ve lost a loved one due to the negligence of another party, you need to get legal advice as soon as possible. You want a Louisville wrongful death lawyer who cares, and you’ll find that and much more in Mike Schafer, Bryan Meader, and The Schafer Law Office.
We have been helping personal injury victims get compensated for more than 25 years. We know the challenges and pitfalls of personal injury cases (especially in Kentucky), all the tactics of the “other” side, and how to best present the facts. In fact, before Mike opened The Schafer Law Office, he worked for an insurance defense firm. We know all the tactics the insurance companies have up their sleeves and will use that information to advance your case. To schedule a consultation, please call (502) 584-9511 or contact us online.