Rhoads & Rhoads, a wrongful death attorney, has protected the rights of the injured throughout Western Kentucky for over 50 years. If you’ve lost a loved one due to another person’s negligence, our team of experienced trial attorneys and knowledgeable support staff are available to help you file a wrongful death claim.
A Rhoads & Rhoads Wrongful Death Lawyer will help you file a wrongful death lawsuit to get the financial compensation you deserve.
Losing a loved one in an accident is devastating both emotionally and financially. At Rhoads & Rhoads, we cannot erase the pain of a wrongful death, but we can help your family obtain the compensation you need and deserve.
Schedule a free consultation today to see how a experienced wrongful death attorney can help you and your family through the complicated issues surrounding a wrongful death. Contact us online or by calling 888-709-9329.
What Are Wrongful Death Lawsuits?
Wrongful death in Kentucky is a legal concept for an individual’s death that is a direct result of the negligence, recklessness, or intentional actions of another party. Wrongful death claims allow surviving dependents to pursue compensation for financial and emotional losses due to the untimely death of their loved one.
At its core, you can file a wrongful death claim if the deceased person would still be alive if the accident had not occurred.
By providing a structured mechanism for compensation, this legal concept eases the financial burden and offers solace to those navigating the challenging aftermath of a wrongful death.
What Are the Common Causes of Wrongful Death Cases?
Wrongful death occurs in a variety of contexts, but motor vehicle accidents and medical malpractice are by far the leading causes of negligence causing death.
In many cases, the statutes of limitation for personal injury and wrongful death claims in Kentucky require filing within one year of the death date. Promptly consulting personal injury lawyers will ensure compliance as you bring a wrongful death suit to the court.
Survivors can file a wrongful death lawsuit and seek compensation for an untimely death caused by:
A car accident can involve various complexities, such as determining liability and assessing the role of each party involved. Seek legal advice from a personal injury lawyer promptly to understand options and initiate the claims process within the required time limit for fatal car accidents.
Pedestrian motor vehicle accidents often raise questions about liability and the duty of care drivers owe to those on foot. Schedule a free consultation or consult with a wrongful death lawyer to explore rights and obligations, ensuring compliance with the legal timeframe for claims stemming from pedestrian accidents.
Nursing Home Neglect
Cases involving nursing home neglect require careful examination of the facility’s responsibilities and potential breaches of duty. Act promptly by consulting with a wrongful death lawyer to navigate complexities within specified time constraints for deaths resulting from neglect in a nursing home.
Fall on an Unsafe Property
Falls on unsafe properties may involve premises liability, and consulting with an attorney early ensures a thorough understanding of the legal avenues available for pursuing compensation from the party responsible.
Construction accidents pose unique challenges, including identifying responsible parties and navigating the complexities of construction site safety regulations. Timely initial consultation with a wrongful death lawyer is essential to meet legal requirements and ensure a comprehensive understanding of available legal avenues for compensation in any personal injury claim cases because of the fatal consequences of construction accidents.
Medical malpractice wrongful death cases demand a thorough understanding of healthcare standards and potential breaches, requiring immediate legal consultation to assess the viability of a wrongful death claim. Your wrongful death lawyer will determine compensation options and adhere to the legal time frame for filing a wrongful death claim resulting from medical negligence or medical malpractice.
A motorcycle accident wrongful death claim presents unique challenges, including assessing the role of visibility, road conditions, and other factors specific to two-wheeled vehicles. Consult with a wrongful death lawyer promptly to initiate necessary legal steps within the mandated timeframe and seek compensation for fatal motorcycle accidents.
Defective or Dangerous Consumer Product
This type of case may be an option if a product malfunction harmed your loved one. Defective product cases require expertise in product liability laws, making early legal consultation essential to build a robust claim.
Truck accidents introduce unique factors, such as federal regulations and the potential involvement of multiple parties, requiring immediate legal attention. Wrongful deaths stemming from truck accidents necessitate swift action. Consulting with a wrongful death lawyer is crucial to exploring rights and obligations and ensuring compliance with the legal timeframe for all wrongful death claims arising from truck accidents.
Workplace accidents involve workers’ compensation laws and potential third-party liability, making timely legal intervention essential. When personal injury or death occurs due to a workplace accident, engaging with an attorney promptly is vital. Initiating necessary proceedings within the legal team and stipulated timeframe is critical to seeking compensation.
Boating accidents involve maritime laws and personal liability requiring immediate legal attention to assess liability and potential claims. Initiating necessary legal steps to pursue maximum compensation within the mandated timeframe is crucial for seeking compensation.
How a Kentucky Attorney Helps Survivors
Engaging the services of a wrongful death lawyer at personal injury law firm proves invaluable in pursuing a wrongful death settlement. Here are a few ways a legal team can help prove wrongful death:
Legal Expertise: Wrongful death cases entail intricate legal processes and documentation. An adept attorney brings specialized knowledge, navigating complexities to ensure proper wrongful death lawsuit claim handling and compliance with legal requirements.
Thorough Investigation: Employing extensive resources, wrongful death lawyers conduct a meticulous investigation into the circumstances surrounding the deceased’s passing. This includes gathering and analyzing evidence, interviewing witnesses, consulting experts, and reconstructing the events leading to the fatal incident.
Negotiating with an Insurance Company: Skilled attorneys excel in negotiations with the responsible party’s insurance company, often resolving cases before trial. They tirelessly advocate for fair compensation for family members, guarding against unfair tactics employed by insurers to devalue or deny claims.
Litigation Representation: Should the need arise, wrongful death lawyers will initiate a wrongful death civil lawsuit and represent the family in a civil court. They craft a compelling case, advocating for the maximum compensation available under the law.
Providing Emotional Support: Coping with the preventable loss of a loved one’s death is emotionally devastating. A compassionate and experienced wrongful death lawyer who not only handles the legal aspects of a wrongful death claim but also offers unwavering support and understanding during this challenging time.
Assistance with Financial Matters: Managing the financial aspects of a wrongful death case can be overwhelming. Attorneys can assist survivors in navigating issues such as medical bills, funeral expenses, and any immediate financial challenges.
Witness Coordination: During a wrongful death suit, coordinating witnesses and gathering testimonies is crucial to building a solid case. An experienced wrongful death attorney will take charge of this process, ensuring that witness statements are collected, organized, and presented effectively in support of the case.
Probate Assistance: Since wrongful death claims often involve the deceased’s estate, attorneys can assist with probate matters. This includes navigating the probate process, addressing any outstanding debts, and ensuring a smooth transition of assets to survivors.
Expert Consultations: Wrongful death and personal injury cases may require insights from various experts, such as medical professionals, accident reconstruction specialists, or economists. Attorneys consult with experts to prove your claim.
Timely Filing of Documents: Meeting deadlines for filing legal documents is crucial in any legal proceeding. Wrongful death attorneys ensure all necessary documents are filed correctly and within the specified time frames, preventing potential delays or complications.
Resolution Strategies: Attorneys develop effective strategies for resolution, whether through negotiation, mediation, or litigation. They evaluate the unique aspects of each case and advise survivors on the most appropriate course of action to maximize compensation while considering the emotional toll of the legal process.
Educating Survivors on Legal Rights: Wrongful death attorneys educate survivors on their legal rights and the potential outcomes of the wrongful death case. This empowers survivors to make informed decisions and actively participate in legal proceedings.
Coordination with Other Professionals: Collaborating with other professionals, such as financial planners, counselors, and wrongful death attorneys, can help survivors address broader aspects of their lives affected by the loss. This holistic approach supports survivors in rebuilding their lives after the tragedy.
Continued Support Throughout the Process: Beyond emotional support, attorneys maintain ongoing communication with survivors, providing updates on the case’s progress and addressing any concerns or questions.
What Meets the Legal Definition of Wrongful Death Due to Negligence?
Establishing negligence following a fatal incident in Kentucky generally requires proving four essential elements:
- Duty of Care: The plaintiff must illustrate that the defendant, who is deemed the at-fault party, owed a legal duty of care to the deceased individual. In Kentucky, individuals are obligated to exercise reasonable care to prevent harm to others. This duty varies depending on the context; for instance, drivers are expected to operate vehicles safely, doctors are obligated to provide competent medical care, and property owners must maintain their premises in a safe condition.
- Breach of Duty: Evidence must be presented to demonstrate that the defendant breached their duty of care, indicating that their actions or omissions fell below the expected standard of care in the given circumstances. This involves proving that the defendant acted negligently or failed to take reasonable precautions to prevent harm from the car accident.
- Causation: It is imperative to establish a direct causal connection between the defendant’s breach of duty and the fatal accident. This requires demonstrating that the defendant’s actions or negligence were the direct cause of the accident and subsequent death.
- Damages: Finally, the plaintiff must provide evidence of the damages suffered by the deceased person’s estate and beneficiaries as a consequence of the fatal incident. These damages may encompass various elements, such as medical expenses, funeral and burial costs, lost wages, and loss of companionship.
This framework is crucial to being able to bring a wrongful death claim of negligence and your ability to pursue compensation for your wrongful death lawsuit.
What Compensation Is Available for Wrongful Death Lawsuits?
When a family member dies in a wrongful death accident, the estate and its survivors may be eligible for compensation. A wrongful death compensation claim can be made after a probate court names a personal representative for the victim’s estate.
Once this process is complete, the personal representative of the estate and its survivors can file a wrongful death claim against the negligent party and their insurance company. It is essential to consult an attorney immediately, as there is a strict statute of limitations on civil lawsuits and wrongful death cases and resulting wrongful death lawsuits.
Most people know the deceased’s estate can receive damages for the funeral costs and burial and for costs associated with pursuing the wrongful death claim, but there may also be other types of compensation when you file a wrongful death lawsuit.
When you lose a loved one due to someone else’s negligence, you may be able to recover economic damages from the party responsible for the accident and/or their personal injury insurance company:
Economic Impact: A wrongful death lawsuit primarily addresses the economic repercussions on survivors. This encompasses medical expenses incurred before the individual’s death due to wrongful actions or negligence. The substantial costs associated with medical care, hospitalization, surgeries, medications, and other necessary treatments leading up to the fatal incident can place a significant financial burden on the other family member. A successful wrongful death claim aims to recover these medical expenses, providing financial relief.
Funeral and Burial Expenses: Funeral and burial expenses constitute a substantial aspect of the damages sought in a wrongful death lawsuit. The planning and execution of a funeral or memorial service can impose considerable financial strain on the family, particularly during an emotionally challenging time. Recovering these costs ensures that the family is not unduly burdened by the financial implications of their loved one’s death and offers relief from funeral costs.
Lost Wages and Impairment to Earn: Lost wages and other income is a crucial component addressed in a wrongful death claim, especially when the deceased was a primary breadwinner. Compensation sought in a wrongful death lawsuit may extend to projected future earnings, benefits, and other forms of financial support that the family would have reasonably expected had the accident not occurred.
Non-Economic Losses: Beyond the direct economic impacts, a successful wrongful death civil lawsuit most often also addresses non-economic losses that profoundly affect the quality of life for surviving family members. Loss of companionship, guidance, and consortium are intangible, yet significant elements of the damages sought in civil wrongful death lawsuits. The emotional toll and the void left by the unexpected death of a loved one are immeasurable, and a successful wrongful death lawsuit aims to provide some compensation for these intangible losses.
Pain and Suffering: Pain and suffering, experienced both by the deceased before their death and endured by loved ones (including spouse and minor children) afterward, are additional considerations in a wrongful death claim. The mental anguish, emotional distress, and the overall impact on the beloved family member’s well-being are factors taken into account when seeking compensation. These intangible aspects add a layer of complexity to the economic damages sought in the civil wrongful death lawsuit itself, acknowledging the emotional and psychological toll of the loss.
Property Damage: If the wrongful actions or negligence leading to the person’s death resulted in damage to the deceased’s property, the cost of repairing or replacing that property may be included in the damages sought. This can encompass damage to vehicles, personal belongings, or any other property affected by the incident.
Loss of Consortium: Loss of consortium refers to the deprivation of the benefits of a family relationship, including companionship, emotional support, and intimacy. Loved ones may seek compensation for the tangible and intangible losses associated with the diminished quality of their relationships due to the untimely accidental death of a beloved family member.
Loss of Inheritance: In cases where the deceased individual was the primary source of financial support, surviving family members may seek financial compensation for losing the inheritance they would have received if they lived a full life. This can include accumulating assets, savings, and other financial benefits.
Legal Expenses: The costs of pursuing wrongful death lawsuits, including attorney, court, and other legal expenses, may be recoverable. This ensures the financial burden of seeking justice and accountability does not fall entirely on those who’ve just lost a beloved family member.
Punitive Damages: In some instances of civil lawsuits involving egregious negligence or intentional misconduct, the court may award punitive damages. These economic damages aim to punish the wrongdoer and deter similar negligent behavior again in the future. While economic damages are only sometimes awarded, they can provide an additional form of compensation.
Pre-Judgment Interest: In some jurisdictions, pre-judgment interest may be added to the awarded damages. This compensates for the time between the occurrence of the wrongful act and the resolution of the legal proceedings, acknowledging the time value of money.
Costs of Therapy or Counseling: Surviving family members may incur expenses for therapy or counseling to cope with the emotional trauma resulting from the wrongful death action. These costs can be included in the damages sought, recognizing the ongoing need for mental health support.
Each wrongful death case is unique, and the types of compensation pursued may vary based on the specific circumstances, applicable state laws, and the skillful guidance of experienced wrongful death attorneys.
What Will a Kentucky Attorney Use to Prove the Wrongful Death Claim Is Warranted?
Expert Testimony: Utilizing expert witnesses can significantly strengthen the case. Experts in relevant fields, such as accident reconstruction specialists, medical professionals, or industry experts, can provide testimony to establish the standard of care, the breach of duty, and the causal connection between the defendant’s actions and your loved one’s death.
Violation of Statutes or Regulations: Demonstrating that the negligent party or defendant whose negligent behavior violated specific statutes or regulations can be compelling evidence of someone else’s negligence too. For example, the at-fault party was a drunk driver operating a vehicle under the influence of alcohol or drugs, violating drunk driver laws.
Prior Incidents or Patterns of Negligence: Establishing a history of prior incidents or a pattern of negligent behavior on the defendant’s part can be persuasive. It demonstrates a consistent failure to meet the duty of care and can support the argument that your loved one’s death resulted from ongoing negligence.
Eyewitness Testimonies: Eyewitness accounts can provide crucial evidence to support the claim of negligence. Eyewitnesses who observed the events leading up to the fatal accident can testify regarding the at-fault party’s actions and any noticeable breaches of duty.
Documentation and Records: Comprehensive documentation, such as police reports, medical records, or maintenance logs, can be valuable evidence. These records can help establish the accident’s circumstances, the breach of duty, and the resulting damages.
Surveillance Footage: Surveillance footage from cameras near the accident can provide visual evidence of the events. This can be particularly impactful in cases where the at-fault party disputes their actions or attempts to shift blame.
Communications and Admissions: Any communications, statements, or admissions made by the at-fault or negligent party that indicate awareness of their negligent actions can be robust evidence. This includes written or verbal acknowledgments that may serve as admissions of fault.
Reconstruction of Events: Engaging in a thorough reconstruction of the events leading to the loved one’s death can help illustrate the sequence of actions and how the defendant’s negligence directly contributed to the outcome. This can involve the use of technology, simulations, or expert analysis.
Comparative Negligence Defense: Anticipating and addressing potential comparative negligence defenses is crucial. Establishing that the deceased person was not at fault or that their actions did not contribute significantly to the accident strengthens the claim of the defendant’s sole responsibility.
Preservation of Evidence: Timely preservation of evidence is essential. This includes securing accident scenes, obtaining witness statements promptly, and preserving physical evidence. Failing to preserve evidence may weaken the overall case.
Who Can Initiate a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
In Kentucky, only the personal representative, typically the executor of the deceased’s estate, has the authority to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of surviving family members. This personal representative is typically a spouse.
How Is a Wrongful Death Settlement Distributed?
Specific laws govern the distribution of any recovered amount in a Kentucky wrongful death lawsuit. Any funds received from settlements of wrongful death lawsuits are distributed to survivors in the following order:
Spouse Without Children or Grandchildren: Kentucky law mandates that the recovered funds first go to the surviving spouse when the deceased leaves a spouse and no children or grandchildren. After covering funeral expenses, medical bills, court costs, and legal fees, the remaining is allocated to the surviving spouse.
Spouse with Children: If the deceased had both a spouse and children, the spouse receives half of the recovered amount, and the children receive the other half.
Children Without a Surviving Spouse: When the deceased left behind children but no spouse, the entire recovered amount is allocated to the children.
No Spouse or Children: In the absence of a spouse or children, the deceased’s parents share the recovery according to Kentucky law.
No Spouse, Child, or Parent: If the deceased had none of those above relatives, the recovered amount becomes part of the deceased’s estate to next of kin under Kentucky statue.
We can discuss your legal options, clarify your rights to recovery, and explain the distribution of any monetary award by Kentucky law.
Rhoads & Rhoads personal injury lawyers have been protecting families who lost a loved one through a wrongful death accident throughout Western Kentucky for 50 years.
We can’t bring your loved one back, but as your wrongful death lawyers, we can make this difficult time easier financially by helping you bring a wrongful death lawsuit to the responsible parties and get the best wrongful death settlement possible.
Our team of experienced trial attorneys and knowledgeable support staff are available to help you through this challenging time and get your family the financial recovery you deserve.
Rhoads & Rhoads Wrongful Death Lawyers — Free Consultation
With a personal injury law firm office in Owensboro and a second location in Madisonville, Rhoads & Rhoads attorneys are available and ready to fight for the families of wrongful death victims throughout Western Kentucky.
We offer free initial consultations, and all cases are taken on a contingency fee basis, meaning no payment is required upfront.
We get paid only if we win or settle your personal injury or wrongful death case, so NO RISK is involved. Call us at 888-709-9329 or e-mail to talk to our personal injury attorneys.