Wrongful Death Law in Kentucky
Written by Cooper and Friedman on December 6, 2018
What is a Wrongful Death?
A wrongful death is one that is the result of another’s negligence or intent to cause harm. Wrongful deaths are usually at the hand of medical malpractice, motorized vehicle accidents, a crime, or an unsafe product or workplace.
Kentucky’s Wrongful Death Laws
In the State of Kentucky, the victim’s family has the right to sue for damages within one year of the death of their loved one. After Kentucky’s statute of limitations has expired, no wrongful death lawsuit is likely to be granted by the court.
Filing a Wrongful Death Lawsuit
A wrongful death claim is not to be confused with a criminal case where the “at fault” party is punished by jail time or other fines and penalties. A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil case that results in monetary damages to paid out to the victim’s family.
Damages can include compensation for a major source of income lost as a result of the deceased, as well as their funeral and burial expenses. The remainder of any damages received usually covers the cost of pursuing the case and compensates the family for their loss and emotional distress. Even if a criminal case is being pursued by a prosecutor, in order for the family to receive compensation, a wrongful death case must also be sought after.
In the case that the wrongful death occurred as a result of intent or gross negligence, the state of Kentucky may award what is known as punitive damages. While still monetary, punitive damages are an act of punishment only in the context of severe misconduct meant to prevent such behavior from being repeated.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?
Depending on who is at fault, the wrongful death lawsuit can be taken up with an individual or a corporation. However, who can file the suit and which family members receive compensation differ from state to state.
In Kentucky, only the appointed representative of the deceased’s estate has the authority to bring about a wrongful death lawsuit. This person is either named in the will as the executor of the estate or has been appointed by a probate court to be the administrator of it. The representative is in charge of paying off all debts as well as distributing assets. In the event that a wrongful death suit is successful, the state of Kentucky asserts that the payout be made to specific family members who survived the deceased in the following order:
1. Half to the spouse and half to the children.
2. In the case of no children, all damages go to the spouse.
3. If the deceased has no spouse, all compensation is paid to the children.
4. If there is no spouse or children, the deceased’s parents receive all damages.
5. If the deceased has no spouse, children, or parents, then it is all paid to the estate.
Filing a wrongful death claim can be a long and drawn out legal battle. Before filing, it is recommended that one consult with an experienced attorney and have a well-documented case establishing negligence.
If you or someone you know is dealing with the wrongful death of a loved one, contact Cooper and Friedman Attorneys at Law. We have been successfully representing victims in wrongful death cases in Kentucky and Indiana since 1991. To speak with an attorney, call us at 502-4597555 for more information and a free case consultation.