In the unfortunate event that you have lost a loved one in a fatal car accident, you might be wondering—does car insurance cover wrongful death? In most cases, it does—as long as your policy includes death benefits, and you can prove that the car accident was the cause of death.
Fortunately, you may have options to receive death benefits even if your auto insurance does not cover it. Families of fatally injured car accident victims have three potential avenues for compensation.
You can choose to:
- File an insurance claim with the deceased’s carrier
- File an insurance claim with the at-fault driver’s carrier
- File a personal injury claim or lawsuit against the at-fault driver
Kentucky Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations
In a typical Kentucky car accident insurance claim involving bodily injury, the statute of limitations (or deadline) to file a claim is one year from the accident. When a death is involved, claimants have one year from the date of the victim’s death to file. While these dates often coincide, there are sometimes cases in which a victim dies in the hospital in the days or weeks following the accident.
Car accident claims can be complicated affairs that involve much paperwork, in-depth investigations, and enlisting the help of expert witnesses like accident reconstructionists, so it is recommended that you start sooner rather than later. The quicker you initiate a claim, the better preserved the evidence will be and the sooner you can receive a settlement.
Filing a Wrongful Death Insurance Claim
Since Kentucky is a “no-fault state”—meaning that insurance claims are filed with one’s own insurance carrier rather than the at-fault driver’s, regardless of fault—death benefits are included by law with all insurance policies as part of personal injury protection (PIP) coverage. This means that your car insurance policy should already include death benefits.
You can file a wrongful death insurance claim the same way you would file an ordinary car accident claim. Promptly report the accident to the deceased’s insurer and follow their instructions on what actions to take next. You may be asked to provide proof that your loved one has died and that the cause was a car crash, such as an autopsy report or death certificate.
If the insurance company refuses to pay your family a wrongful death settlement, or if your loved one’s death was caused by negligence, you may want to consider filing a personal injury claim or lawsuit for damages. By filing such a claim, you are also likely to receive a more lucrative settlement, which can help you and your family get back on your feet if you were dependent on the decedent.
Wrongful Death Car Accident Settlement
The amount of “damages,” or compensation, you are eligible to receive in a wrongful death claim varies enormously. This is because every claim is based on the unique factors of your particular situation. Factors that may affect compensation include whether your loved one died instantly or was cared for in a hospital before passing, how much money they earned, and whether you are eligible to receive putative damages.
Claimants may receive damages for the specific wrongs they and their family have suffered as a result of a car accident resulting in death, such as:
- Funeral and burial expenses
- Pain and suffering the decedent experienced before death
- Medical bills incurred by the deceased before death
- Loss of consortium, love, and/or companionship
- Earnings the deceased would have earned had they remained alive
- Punitive damages (if the death was the result of an intentional act or gross negligence)
Insurance companies often look out only for their bottom line rather than the well being of their clients. Before accepting a settlement offer from your insurance carrier, we recommend consulting with an attorney experienced in handling car accident and wrongful death claims. Even if you do not plan on taking legal action, consulting with a lawyer can still help you to understand your rights and how to file your claim correctly.
Have you lost a loved one in a Kentucky car accident? Our legal team is here for you. Contact us to schedule a free, confidential, and no-obligation consultation to discuss your case. Our Louisville car accident lawyers are happy to answer all your questions and help you decide what to do next.