Dealing with the death of a family member is never easy. Losing a loved one to the negligence of someone else, though, can make matters even more difficult.
Our lawyers know there is no amount of money that can fairly compensate you and your family for the unexpected passing of a loved one. However, damages recovered through a wrongful death claim can protect your family’s financial future and compensate you for the emotional toll of your loss.
The wrongful death attorneys at the Karl Truman Law Office are committed to pursuing the compensation you and your family deserve. Please call (502) 222-2222 for a free consultation in Louisville, Kentucky, or (812) 282-8500 for legal assistance in Jeffersonville, Indiana.
Do I Have a Wrongful Death Claim?
The only way to know for certain if you have a wrongful death case is to consult our experienced attorneys in Indiana and Kentucky. We have extensive knowledge of the laws, statutes, and precedents relevant to these types of cases.
Generally, if your loved one’s death was caused by the negligence or deliberate wrongdoing of one or more parties, you may have a wrongful death. Some of the common ways negligence can lead to death include:
- Accidents involving a motor vehicle or semi-truck
- Motorcycle accidents
- A vehicle collision involving a pedestrian or bicyclist
- A defective or dangerously marketed drug
- A defective or faulty product, medical device, or consumer good
- Abuse or neglect at the hands of nursing home staff
- Dog bites and dog attacks
- Workplace injuries
If the victim could have filed a personal injury claim had he or she survived, the option generally exists for surviving family members to pursue a wrongful death claim against the party or parties responsible.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Claim
Each client’s case is unique, and we build the most effective strategy for resolving your wrongful death claim. That said, there are certain elements that form the basis of all claims involving both personal injury and wrongful death.
These elements are:
- The at-fault party failed to act in a reasonably prudent or cautious manner, or acted with intent to harm
- This careless or malicious conduct caused your loved one injury
- Your loved one died as a result of this injury
- The loss of your loved one has resulted in financial losses and other damages for you and your family
In order to have a valid wrongful death claim, you must show that your loved one’s death was a direct result of someone else’s negligence and that you have suffered financially and otherwise. One of the most common examples we see is a family pursuing a claim against a careless driver for a fatal car accident.
However, many different forms of negligence can result in wrongful death. It is important to work with an experienced attorney to identify all of the liable parties in your claim.
Kentucky Wrongful Death Laws
In Kentucky, both the state constitution and statutory law address wrongful death. The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky reads:
“Whenever the death of a person shall result from an injury inflicted by negligence or wrongful act, then, in every such case, damages may be recovered for such death, from the corporations and persons so causing the same.”
Kentucky Revised Statute 411.130 echoes the constitutional statement and adds that if “the act was willful or the negligence gross, punitive damages may be recovered.” Punitive damages are compensation awarded beyond actual damages as punishment to the defendant and to deter others from similar conduct.
Indiana Wrongful Death Laws
The Indiana wrongful death statute also establishes the right to seek damages when wrongdoing leads to the death of another:
“When the death of one is caused by the wrongful act or omission of another, the personal representative of the former may maintain an action therefor against the latter, if the former might have maintained an action had he or she, as the case may be, lived, against the latter for an injury for the same act or omission.”
The same Indiana law establishes the rights of parents and legal guardians to pursue a wrongful death action “against the person whose wrongful act or omission caused the injury or death of a child.”
Wrongful Death FAQ
What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In personal injury claims, an injured individual pursues compensation for his or her own injuries stemming from the negligence of another. The mechanism is similar for wrongful death lawsuits, but instead the victim’s surviving family members pursue compensation from the at-fault party.
Although the laws vary from state to state, both the estate of the deceased individual (known as the decedent) and his or her loved ones may be awarded damages in Kentucky and Indiana wrongful death lawsuits.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Kentucky?
The statute of limitations on wrongful death claims in Kentucky is 1 year from the date that the victim passes away. This affords surviving family members very little time to take action if their loved one is killed due to the negligence of another party.
As in cases where an injury is not discovered until a later date, you may be able to take action more than 1 year later if the cause of death is not immediately discovered. However, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney as soon as possible to avoid missing your opportunity to pursue compensation.
How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Indiana?
In Indiana, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is 2 years from the date of the victim’s death. Your case may still be viable after 2 years if the cause of death was not evident within that time frame, but there is no guarantee that you have this extra time.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Kentucky?
Kentucky law requires the personal representative of the estate of the deceased to file a lawsuit for wrongful death. The decedent’s will may specify the personal representative, or the matter may have to pass through probate court if the decedent did not have a will or the will does not name a personal representative.
Although the personal representative files the claim, surviving family members are awarded damages in the event of a settlement or favorable verdict. Legally, compensation in a wrongful death claim may be awarded to:
- Other individuals specified in the will (if the deceased was unmarried, has no children, and whose parents are no longer alive)
If you have questions about your right to file a wrongful death claim, contact the Karl Truman Law Office today for a free consultation.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Indiana?
In Indiana, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate must file a wrongful death lawsuit in cases where the decedent is an adult. According to the Civil Law and Procedure section of the Indiana Code, the estate may recoup damages for medical care, funeral arrangements, and burial or cremation, while spouses, children, and dependent next of kin may recover compensation for lost earnings and “loss of the adult person’s love and companionship.”
In cases involving the death of a child, one or both parents or a legal guardian are the parties who must file a wrongful death claim. The parent, parents, or guardian may be awarded compensation for damages such as:
- Loss of love and companionship
- Loss of services
- Medical costs incurred before death
- Funeral expenses
- The cost of burial or cremation
For the purposes of wrongful death litigation, a person is considered a child if he or she is under the age or 20, or 23 if he or she is in college or attending a trade or technical school.
How Is Financial Compensation Determined in Wrongful Death Cases?
The answer to this question depends on the specific facts in the case, including the circumstances of your loved one’s death and the nature and extent of the damages you and your family have suffered. The court may consider the following factors in a wrongful death claim:
- The extent of lost earnings and benefits
- The cost of medical, funeral, and burial expenses
- The extent of pain and suffering related to the fatal injuries
- The defendant’s degree of negligence
Punitive damages may be awarded in wrongful death claims in Kentucky. However, Indiana does not allow punitive damages in wrongful death cases.
Are There Damage Caps on Wrongful Death Compensation in Kentucky?
Kentucky law imposes no limitations on damages in a wrongful death claim. However, the compensation awarded to surviving family members may be reduced if it is determined that the decedent was partially responsible for his or her death.
In personal injury and wrongful death cases, a victim may be found partially at fault and still be awarded compensation. This is known as the law of comparative negligence.
Are There Damage Caps on Wrongful Death Compensation in Indiana?
In cases where the decedent is not married and doesn’t have children, Indiana law caps damages in wrongful death claims at $300,000. Other state damage caps may apply if the decedent is survived by a spouse or children, such as the $1.65 million/$1.8 million cap on medical malpractice damages (depending on when the injury occurred) and the $700,000 damage cap for claims involving the negligence of public employees or government entities.
How Hard Is It to Prove Wrongful Death?
The complexity of your wrongful death claim will depend on the specific facts of your case. If your loved one was killed in a vehicle accident and the at-fault driver was distracted or driving drunk, proving that the driver is liable for your losses should not be tremendously difficult. However, in more complex cases – such as those involving defective products and medical malpractice – both causation and the negligence of the liable party or parties can be more difficult to prove.
It is important to work with an experienced wrongful death lawyer who can thoroughly investigate the circumstances of your loved one’s passing, identify all of the parties responsible, and pursue fair compensation on behalf of you and your family.
Wrongful Death Damages
Compensation in Kentucky wrongful death lawsuits may include money for actual damages such as:
- Medical costs
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Loss of income
- Loss of benefits
In some circumstances, damages for pain and suffering and loss of companionship may also be recovered. As mentioned above, Kentucky wrongful death law also allows for the awarding of punitive damages if the act that resulted in wrongful death was deliberate or caused by gross negligence.
How Do I Choose a Wrongful Death Lawyer?
As with any legal matter, experience is crucial for finding the right attorney to handle your wrongful death claim. In addition, you should feel comfortable speaking to the lawyer and all members of his or her staff. You are in the midst of a tragedy, and every person at the firm should treat you with empathy and respect.
When you discuss your case with one of our experienced and compassionate lawyers, we encourage you to ask any and all questions about wrongful death cases you have on your mind. You may want to ask some of the following questions to help you decide whether to move forward with your case:
- How many wrongful death cases have you handled?
- Do you frequently handle wrongful death claims like mine?
- Do you think I have a viable wrongful death claim?
- What do you think I may be awarded damages for?
- How many wrongful death claims do you settle?
How many wrongful death cases do you take to trial?
- How long do you think it will take to resolve my case?
- What can I do to help my case?
- What are all of my options moving forward?
The wrongful death lawyers at the Karl Truman Law Office want to empower you to make choices about how best to move forward with your claim. We are committed to providing the information and guidance you need to make decisions after your loss so that you and your family can begin to heal from this tragic event.
Contact Our Wrongful Death Lawyers in Kentucky or Indiana Today
The Karl Truman Law Office has been fighting for the rights of injured people for decades. Our practice also serves the surviving family members of those who suffer fatal injuries due to someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing.
You can count on the Karl Truman Law Office to provide compassionate, hands-on service in handling your wrongful death claim. We explore all options for recovering the compensation you and your loved ones deserve.
If you believe a family member’s death was the result of another’s negligence, please contact the Karl Truman Law Office today by calling (502) 222-2222 for service in Louisville, Kentucky, or (812) 282-8500 to speak with a lawyer in Jeffersonville, Indiana. Your initial consultation is free.