If you have lost a loved one because of somebody else's negligence, it's important to explore your legal options. Read on to learn how to pick the right wrongful death lawyer.

Definition of Wrongful Death

The state of Kentucky defines wrongful death in Section 411.130 as when a person's death is the result of an injury brought about because of the wrongful act or negligence of another person. 

Examples are drunk driving fatalities, deaths caused by an unsound structure or lack of maintenance in a building, defective products, nursing home negligence, or what is called failure to diagnose by a medical professional when a fatal disease causes death.

One of the most obvious, high-profile wrongful death lawsuits in the news lately was the case of Breonna Taylor. The verdict that was handed down forced Louisville to pay the Taylor family $12 million and agree to extensive reforms to the city's Police Department. 

While your case is likely not going to have a payout as large as this, depending on the situation, you can still receive a generous settlement for the loss of someone close to you.

Choosing a Lawyer

Thinking about hiring a lawyer is probably the last thing that crosses your mind when you are grieving an unexpected loss but it is the most important thing you'll do for yourself and your family. 

The settlement you receive will compensate you for medical and funeral bills, mental anguish and pain and suffering, benefits that are lost including insurance, the loss of an inheritance, losing care, protection and even the loss of companionship. To keep the negligent party from harming someone else in the future, punitive damages may also be awarded.

Attributes of a Competent Wrongful Death Attorney

The right wrongful death lawyer will have an extensive background, so check the case history of firms in Louisville. Once you've identified a few, narrow down your list by seeking information such as the following:

Number of years in practice
Track record of settlements received
Percentage of wrongful death cases that are settled out of court compared to how many go to trial
Number of wrongful death cases the firm represents each year
Number of years they have been in business and how familiar they are with your type of case
If they offer free consultations

What Happens After Your Free Consultation

Once your consultation is over, ask about the lawyer's assessment of your case. Try to cover details about what is going to work in your favor and what is going to be an obstacle. Since a large percentage of wrongful death lawsuits do not go to trial, it is fine to ask if the lawyer thinks that your case is worth taking to trial.

An experienced legal professional will explain your options of mediation or arbitration. They also can estimate how long they expect the case to go on. Some trials go on for very long periods of time and it is impossible to get a definite timeline but you may be able to get a rough idea. Finally, you will want to discuss what kind of financial settlement is possible.

After doing your homework, it's important to know what to expect next. Wrongful death cases are known for being complicated and lengthy. It's nearly impossible to predict with certainty what the result will turn out to be but the right wrongful death lawyer will take the initiative to lead you to the best outcome based on his or her past experience and knowledge of similar cases.