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The sudden loss of a loved one is painful, particularly when death was caused by the negligence or medical malpractice of another. We understand.
In addition to representing clients in injury matters, for more than 46 years our firm has been devoted to helping the families left behind following the wrongful death of a loved one pursue full and fair compensation for their loss.
Understanding How Damages are Calculated in Wrongful Death Cases
Certainly no amount of damages can take the place of a loved one. In a trial for a wrongful death, however, juries are tasked with calculating fair compensation after determining that a defendant is legally responsible for a wrongful death. The factors and aspects commonly considered in determining compensation often include the following:
- Loss of Future Income. If the decedent was supporting a family or spouse, a jury needs to determine the present value of the future lost wages that the decedent would have otherwise contributed. To do so, they must look at a number of factors such as the decedent’s position and salary or wages at the time of death, the likely increase in salary or wages, and the number of years that the decedent would have likely worked before retiring. Often, vocational and other economic experts will be helpful in presenting this information.
- Loss of Emotional Support (sometimes called “loss of consortium”). The law recognizes that when a person is severely injured ordies, the family members left behind will experience an emotional loss. One spouse may lose the emotional support of the other spouse. Children will miss the emotional support and guidance of a parent as they mature. In a wrongful death case, it is our role as a Louisville wrongful death attorney to present the full facts and circumstances to jurors so that they can make a monetary valuation of such loss.
- Funeral and Related Expenses. Funeral and related expenses, such as the cost of medical care, are compensable expenses in a wrongful death case. In some cases, such as if a vehicle was totaled, property damages are also compensable.
- Pain and Suffering. In Kentucky and Indiana, jurors may award damages for pain and suffering from the date of the accident or incident contributing to the wrongful death until the date of death of the decedent. Technically, since these damages arise to the decedent prior to the decedent’s death, an award for pain and suffering belongs to the estate of the decedent, and such amounts are then transferred to the beneficiaries of the decedent’s estate in connection with the probate process.
Who is Entitled to Recover in a Wrongful Death Case?
In Kentucky and Indiana, those generally entitled to recover in a wrongful death case include:
- A surviving spouse,
- Dependent children of a parent, and
- A parent of a minor child.
In Kentucky and Indiana adopted children are treated the same as natural children with respect to wrongful death statutes. Stepchildren, however, are not considered as “children” under the wrongful death statutes. There can be nuances concerning those entitled to recover in a wrongful death; therefore, you should speak to us to confirm that you may be eligible under applicable law to recover for your loved one’s death.
It is important to recognize that under both Kentucky and Indiana law, unmarried partners are not treated as a “surviving spouse.” It does not matter how long the relationship may have lasted; if there is no marriage, then the surviving partner is not entitled to bring a lawsuit. As a result, if the decedent does not have any children or parents entitled to bring a lawsuit, it may be the case that no one is entitled to bring a lawsuit for the decedent’s death.
If You Have Lost a Spouse or Family Member, Please Call Us Today
There are important time periods (referred to as the “statute of limitations”) which govern the filing of wrongful death and other civil actions. If a wrongful death action is not brought within this time period, there is no possibility of a recovery under law.
We would welcome the opportunity to meet with you and your family at a convenient time to discuss the loss of your loved one. At this meeting, once we learn about the facts of your case, we can advise you as to how we can help. There is no cost or obligation for this meeting, and if we are retained as your lawyers, we will serve on a contingency fee representation basis. This means that we are only entitled to a fee if and when compensation is recovered for you.