The last thing anyone wants to think about after they lost a loved one is money. Unfortunately, there are often fairly substantial costs that come with losing someone important in your life, and our system of civil justice only allows the monetary compensation to make up for the loss.
At Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC, we have seen the grief, pain and uncertainty that comes with a wrongful death, and we are passionate about helping the surviving family seek justice for their loss.
Justice and Compensation
On the civil side of our court system, justice is limited to seeking monetary compensation for injuries sustained through the negligence of another person, and Kentucky law requires that when a person takes another’s life, he or she has the responsibility of “making them whole again.”
We know this is impossible, however, so the next best thing is to determine the losses that come with the death and pay the family members compensation.
Damages Allowed in Kentucky
In a Kentucky wrongful death claim, the law allows the surviving family members each to seek those losses that have come and will come with the loss. These losses are called damages, and they come in two types: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are medical bills and other fixed costs, and non-economic are those that have to determinate amount but are losses that each person faces due to the circumstances.
- Medical Transport
- Medical Bills
- Lost Wages from Work
- Future Lost Wages
- Property Damage
- Pain and Suffering
- Emotional Distress
- Permanent Disability
- Loss of Enjoyment of Life
- Permanent Disfigurement
- Loss of Consortium (spouse)
- Loss of Nurturing and training
- Loss of Companionship (children, other family members)
How Damages are Determined
First, all economic damages will be added up with each being supported by records and receipts. This becomes a starting point for the amount sought. After that, for each type of non-economic loss, the surviving family members need to show that they have actually suffered the loss and then a money value needs to be placed on it.
For example, loss of nurturing for a child when a father or mother has died will need proof of how the deceased provided that when living. This provides the evidence needed to support the claim, and then the jury will put a dollar amount on that loss.
Insurance Policy Limits
Most people will rely on their auto insurance to pay for their liability when they caused an accident. This is good because they don’t have multi-thousands of dollars available for compensating the victims.
However, all insurance policies have a cap, and if the at-fault person truly doesn’t have any other money available, then this is the limit that can be paid. Most attorneys will advise the family to seek as much as the law allows and then if at-fault person comes into some money, then they might be able to be collect some of it.
In Kentucky, the minimum insurance requirement is $25,000 per person for bodily injury and $50,000 max for all bodily injuries in a single crash. The property damage is capped at $10,000. The law doesn’t say that a personal injury suit can’t seek more than this cap, but it is the minimum cap that an insurance policy can have.
It’s important to first establish by records the economic damages, and then provide other evidence for the non-economic damages. This gives the jury the ability to award higher amounts for these types of injuries.
Do I Need an Attorney?
Accident victims often wonder if they need a wrongful death attorney, and the answer is almost always yes. The insurance company agents have years of experience and are good at their job which is to pay you as little as possible or nothing at all. You need someone just as experienced to help you level the field. Talk to someone you can trust to be on your side and get you what is yours under the law. There are often multiple parties to hold liable in wrongful death cases.