Visitor Question

Can I file a claim against the car owner for my son’s death?

Submitted By: Anonymous (Paducah, Kentucky)

Hello. My 14-year-old son was killed in a car accident on June 23, 2020. He was the driver of the vehicle. He had been staying the night with a friend and the friend’s brother gave them the keys.

The friend had been taking Xanax and was not capable to drive,  so my 14-year-old drove. The family knew my son was driving the vehicle and I am now learning this was not the first time they have let him drive. He ran off of the road and was killed on impact.

The other child survived with minimal injuries because his seat was laying down. I am just wondering if I am eligible to file a claim and receive money from their insurance or no.

Thank you for your help.

Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.

Answer

Dear Anonymous,

We’re so sorry for your loss. It’s likely you can file a wrongful death claim under the friend’s parents’ auto insurance and/or homeowners’ insurance policies.

Kentucky Wrongful Death Cases

KRS § 411.130 is Kentucky’s Wrongful Death statute. Per this law, parties can seek recovery under a wrongful death claim when a person’s negligent or wrongful acts caused the death of another party.

Here, you can assert that the parents were negligent for allowing your son to drive. While the friend’s brother ultimately provided your son with the keys to the car, the parents knew that your son was driving. A reasonable parent would have taken some action to prevent a 14-year old from driving a car.

Further, this was not the only time the parents allowed your son to drive their car. Again, a reasonable parent would not allow a 14-year old to drive a vehicle.

The parents could argue that this was an emergency situation since the friend was taking Xanax, which necessitated your son driving. However, your facts don’t suggest that there was an immediate emergency and the friend’s brother or the parents could have driven the car instead.

In filing a claim or lawsuit, you have two options. You could file a wrongful death claim under the parents’ auto and homeowners’ insurance policies, or you could file a lawsuit directly against the parents. Regardless, you will need a personal injury attorney to handle the case.

There’s too much at stake to pursue a wrongful death case without an experienced attorney.

Compensation in a Wrongful Death

Under KRS § 411.130(2)(d), a deceased’s parent can recover in a wrongful death claim when the decedent leaves no widow, husband, or child. Further, you could receive compensation for such things as:

  • Medical bills for emergency services provided
  • Funeral expenses
  • Pain and suffering that your son experienced before his death

KRS § 411.135 also allows parents to recover for loss of affection and companionship that they would have derived from their child during their time as a minor.

Possible Negligence of Your Son

If you file a claim or lawsuit, the parents are likely to try to avoid liability by saying that your son’s negligence in driving helped contribute to this accident.

Keep in mind that Kentucky is a “pure comparative fault” state. This means that if a party’s negligence helped contribute to an accident, the party is still entitled to pursue compensation. However, the party’s ultimate damage award gets reduced by their percentage of fault in causing the incident.

If an investigation into this case finds that your son was partly to blame for the accident, the amount of your final compensation would get reduced by your son’s level of negligence.

We highly recommend you contact a skilled personal injury attorney for help. Wrongful death cases are complex. An experienced lawyer is better suited to handle the legal issues that you’ll face.

Learn more here: Car Accident Wrongful Deaths

The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney.

Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here, or call 888-972-0892.

We wish you the best with your claim,

Published:

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