Louisville Wrongful Death Attorney
Losing a loved one is never easy, particularly if their death was caused by the careless or negligent actions of another person, business, or entity. At the Law Offices of Hendy | Johnson | Vaughn | Emery, we are dedicated to helping families get closure and recover compensation after a wrongful act causes the loss of a loved one. Our Louisville wrongful death attorneys are here to help you through this difficult time.
Louisville Wrongful Death Resources and FAQs
- What does an attorney do in a wrongful death case?
- What are the common causes of wrongful death?
- Elements of a wrongful death case
- What is the process of a wrongful death lawsuit?
Why Choose Hendy Johnson Vaughn Emery for This Case?
After the tragic loss of a loved one, seek assistance from a Louisville personal injury attorney with extensive experience handling these types of cases. Let Hendy | Johnson | Vaughn | Emery help you through this difficult time.
- We are committed to giving personalized attention to every client, which means we will take the time to get to know you and your family’s needs.
- We specialize in handling only personal injury and wrongful death cases. We are recognized as authorities in the field due to our specialized experience.
- We take Louisville wrongful death cases on a contingency fee basis. This means that our clients face no upfront costs related to their case, and they only pay legal fees after we secure the compensation they deserve.
How Will an Attorney Help a Wrongful Death Case?
Wrongful death cases can become unimaginably complex, and a skilled attorney will be necessary to properly pursue compensation. A Louisville wrongful death attorney will have the legal experience and resources necessary to obtain all evidence needed. This can include eyewitness statements, video and photo surveillance of the incident, accident reports, and more.
Working with skilled economic experts, an attorney will calculate all the losses the family will incur due to the wrongful death in order to negotiate a fair settlement.
We understand the emotional toll that a wrongful death takes and know what you’re going through during this difficult time. Our attorneys will be there for you and your family through every phase of the legal process. We will answer your questions, provide guidance and give you legal advice that you can trust. We will advocate for your rights and best interests while going up against insurance companies and other adversaries. When you hire an attorney, you will have the peace of mind to focus on grieving and healing.
Defining Wrongful Death in Louisville, KY
Pursuant to Kentucky Statutes section 411.130, wrongful death is defined as “the death of a person (that) results from an injury inflicted by the negligent or wrongful act of another.”
The wrongful death may be the result of unintentional negligence or recklessness or intentional actions such as violence. These cases can be brought against individuals who caused the wrongful act or other entities such as businesses, government agencies, non-profit organizations, and more.
In some cases, a wrongful death claim may be closely intertwined with a criminal prosecution against the person responsible for the death. However, there does not necessarily have to be a criminal case in order for surviving family members to file a wrongful death claim. Most wrongful death claims are based on the legal doctrine of negligence, which is the failure to exercise ordinary or reasonable care. Other grounds include medical malpractice, which describes a breach of the standard of care in the medical industry by a health care professional.
Most Common Causes of Wrongful Death?
There are various ways in which wrongful death can occur. At Hendy | Johnson | Vaughn | Emery, our Louisville wrongful death lawyers regularly help clients file wrongful death claims after they lose their loved ones due to the following:
- Careless or negligent driver actions
- Drunk or impaired car crashes
- Distracted driving behavior
- Commercial truck accidents
- Unsafe working conditions
- Defective prescription drugs
- Medical mistakes
- Birth injuries
- Defective products
- Premises incidents
- Catastrophic fall
- Dog attack
- Acts of violence (homicide or manslaughter)
This list is certainly not all-inclusive. If you have any questions about your particular case, call our attorneys as soon as possible so we can get to work evaluating your particular situation.
Wrongful Death vs. Criminal Case
A wrongful death claim and a criminal case against someone for causing the death of another person use two entirely separate justice systems. A wrongful death claim is pursued in the civil courts by someone who is representing the deceased person’s family and/or estate. The goal of a wrongful death claim is to hold a defendant civilly liable for the death, meaning legally and financially responsible. A civil case will not result in a criminal conviction or sentence.
A criminal case against someone for causing a death aims to show, beyond a reasonable doubt, that the defendant committed a crime. The goal is to convict the individual of the crime and inflict a punishment, such as jail time. The crime charged could be murder, homicide, manslaughter or vehicular manslaughter after the death of another person. To receive a conviction, intent to harm generally must be shown by the prosecution. This is not a requirement in a civil wrongful death claim.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Case
When someone files a wrongful death claim in Louisville, that individual takes the burden of proof. This refers to the burden to establish the grounds and elements of the claim. This burden rests with the plaintiff, or filing party, in a civil lawsuit. It is a preponderance of the evidence, or enough evidence to establish that the defendant is more likely than not responsible for the fatal injury or illness. In order to successfully prove a wrongful death case, the following elements typically need to be present:
- Duty. There must have been a duty of care owed to the victim by the defendant. The duty of care will vary depending on the situation, but an example can include the obligation of drivers to drive carefully to ensure the safety of others around them.
- Breach. It needs to be shown that the defendant breached the duty of care they owed to the victim. Continuing with the example above, a driver who is intoxicated has likely breached their duty of care to those around them.
- Causation. It needs to be proven that the breach of duty directly caused the injuries and death to the victim. For example, if a drunk driver runs a red light and slams into another vehicle that has the right of way and causes a fatality, will likely be held liable.
- Damages. Finally, damages need to be demonstrated, meaning surviving loved ones or the estate sustained losses as a result of the death. This can include medical bills, funeral and burial expenses, and lost future income.
The burden of proof in a civil claim is lower than in a criminal case. You do not have to prove wrongful death beyond a reasonable doubt or show that the defendant intended to kill your loved one. Instead, your attorney must show that it is at least 51 percent likely that the death meets the state’s definition of wrongful. An attorney can help you gather evidence to prove the elements of your wrongful death claim
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim?
Like all states, Kentucky has legal restrictions on who can file a wrongful death claim. If you wish to bring this type of lawsuit in Louisville, you generally must be the personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate. A personal representative is someone either named in a will or appointed by the courts to execute an individual’s will and manage his or her estate, such as paying the debts and managing assets. If the decedent did not name a personal representative in a will, the courts can appoint one.
In many cases, the personal representative is the decedent’s closest surviving relative, such as a surviving spouse or domestic partner. If there is no personal representative, another immediate family member may have the legal authority to file a wrongful death claim, such as a child, parent or sibling. The courts may name this individual as the personal representative for the purpose of bringing a wrongful death lawsuit.
There are exceptions to the basic rule. If the death was caused by a deadly weapon, such as a gun crime, the decedent’s surviving spouse and/or children may file the claim instead of the personal representative. If the decedent was a minor, the child’s parents can join the action alongside the personal representative. To find out if you have the right to file this type of lawsuit in Kentucky, speak to one of our attorneys during a free case evaluation in Louisville.
Who Can Be Compensated for a Wrongful Death Claim?
There are various people that may receive compensation in the aftermath of losing a family member. Kentucky law specifies that the following family members may receive compensation in the following order:
- If there is a surviving spouse but no surviving children, then the surviving spouse will receive all compensation.
- If there is a surviving spouse and surviving children, compensation will be split between them equally.
- If there are surviving children but no surviving spouse, then the surviving children will receive the entire compensation amount.
- If there is no surviving spouse and no surviving children, the deceased person’s surviving parents will receive the entire compensation award.
- If there are no surviving spouse, children, or parents, any compensation will go to the deceased person’s estate, which will then be distributed to their remaining heirs.
Our attorneys can help you navigate the confusing laws of distribution in a Kentucky wrongful death claim if your case results in a successful settlement or judgment award. We can also assist you with issues such as the organization and taxation of a settlement.
The Process of a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
The last thing you may wish to take on is a complicated legal process while you are grieving the tragic and unexpected loss of your loved one. Knowing what to expect from the legal journey ahead of you, however, can make it more manageable. Although every wrongful death lawsuit is unique, most follow essentially the same legal process in Kentucky:
- Filing your complaint. This is the paperwork that will initiate your lawsuit, which is filed with the civil courthouse in the county where the death took place. The complaint must name the defendant(s), describe how the death took place and state the financial compensation that you are seeking.
- The discovery phase. If the defendant does not respond to your complaint with a willingness to reach a settlement, the case will proceed to discovery. This is where both sides of the case have the chance to learn what each knows, typically through written (interrogatories) and verbal (depositions) interviews.
- A wrongful death trial. A wrongful death trial involves both sides making statements and presenting evidence – including witness testimony – to prove or disprove a claim. You and the defendant’s insurance company may reach a settlement at any stage of a lawsuit until the first day of the trial.
- Jury deliberations. Once all pertinent information has been heard, the jury will convene to review all of the evidence presented at the trial and decide whether the plaintiff met the burden of proof. If so, the jury will find the defendant liable for the death and order him or her to pay a certain amount of damages to resolve the legal dispute.
- Appeals. If desired, either the plaintiff or the defendant can file an additional lawsuit to appeal the jury’s decision. An appeal can extend the timeline of your wrongful death lawsuit and may change the outcome of the case.
You have the right to have a wrongful death lawyer in Louisville by your side throughout the entirety of your case. An attorney from our law firm can work closely with you through each phase of a wrongful death suit, answering your questions and guiding your family through the legal process to make sure that you have everything you need during this difficult time.
What Is the Statute of Limitations for These Cases?
Each state is responsible for putting a statute of limitations, or time limit, on how long wrongful death claims can be fired. It is important that you contact an attorney as soon as possible as there are specific statute of limitations for each type of case which sets time limitations in which to file a lawsuit. If you do not file in time, your potential case will be forever barred. Kentucky’s wrongful death statute of limitations depends on the case.
The general filing deadlines are:
- Two years from the date of death for a wrongful death claim arising from a motor vehicle accident, including a car, truck, motorcycle, bicycle or pedestrian accident.
- One year from the date of death for a wrongful death claim arising from all other causes.
- One year from appointing a personal representative if one must be chosen by the courts.
- One year from the date of death for a loss of consortium claim brought by a surviving spouse or child under the age of 18.
- One year from the date of discovery if the cause of death was not discovered until later.
- One year from reaching the age of 18 if the only filing party is a surviving minor child.
Statutes of limitations are in place to help maintain a just system for both parties in a lawsuit. Without enforcing a filing deadline, a plaintiff could potentially hold the threat of a lawsuit over the defendant’s head indefinitely. A plaintiff could also intentionally wait to file until important evidence for the defense has been lost or destroyed. For this reason, Kentucky courts strictly enforce their statutes of limitations. Do not wait to contact our attorneys about a potential wrongful death claim in Louisville.
Please contact the attorneys at Hendy Johnson Vaughn Emery to discuss your potential case and the applicable statute of limitations.
What Kind of Compensation Is Available?
If you have lost a loved one due to the negligent or careless actions of another person, business, or entity, seek legal assistance as soon as possible. At the Law Offices of Hendy | Johnson | Vaughn | Emery, we want to investigate your case in order to secure any compensation you may be entitled to. This can include:
- Loss of future income and benefits of the deceased
- Pain and suffering damages
- Loss of companionship damages
- Cost of pre-death medical expenses
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Possible punitive damages against those responsible
While we know that no amount of financial compensation can ever replace your loved one, we also recognize the mental peace that can be provided by greater financial stability, especially after the death of a breadwinner. We will pursue maximum compensation on your family’s behalf.
How to Choose Your Wrongful Death Attorney in Louisville
It is important to find the ideal attorney for your wrongful death case. This will improve your legal experience and your chances of success. Ask the following questions when searching for the right wrongful death attorney in Louisville:
- How much experience does the attorney have? Your lawyer should have many years of experience in personal injury and wrongful death law.
- Does the attorney have time for your case? Look for an attorney who will dedicate individual time and attention to your legal matter – not hand the case off to a paralegal or assistant.
- What are the law firm’s past case results? A history of successful settlements and verdicts on wrongful death claims can prove that the lawyer has what it takes to win.
- How much does the attorney charge? Many lawyers take cases on a contingency fee basis, which means your family won’t have to pay anything in fees unless the case receives a positive outcome.
Different attorneys can have vastly different skills and abilities. Research your wrongful death lawyer in Louisville thoroughly to make sure your choice gives you the greatest odds of success. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Hendy | Johnson | Vaughn | Emery have been trusted by wrongful death clients with their most complex cases for many years.
Contact a Louisville Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
Losing someone you love under unexpected circumstances is devastating. If you have reason to believe that someone else caused or contributed to your loved one’s death, it can be even more difficult to accept. Your family deserves justice, answers and fair financial compensation for a wrongful death. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Hendy | Johnson | Vaughn | Emery can help.
If you need a Louisville wrongful death attorney, you can contact us for a free consultation by clicking here or by calling us at (859) 578-4444.