What is Considered Wrongful Death in Kentucky?
In Kentucky, when a person dies as a result of another party’s negligent or intentional actions, it is generally considered a wrongful death.
Elements of a Wrongful Death Case
Under Kentucky law, the following elements make up a wrongful death case:
- A human being lost their life.
- Another’s negligence or intentional harm caused their death.
- Surviving family members of the deceased suffered damages as a result of the death (e.g., funeral and burial expenses, administration costs, loss of love, financial support, companionship, etc.)
Leading Causes of Wrongful Death Claims in Kentucky
Many different types of accidents can give ground for a wrongful death claim, but some of the most common are as follows:
Motor Vehicle Accidents
Car, truck, bicycle, and pedestrian accidents are some of the most common causes of wrongful deaths and often happen due to driver negligence, such as distracted driving or drunk driving.
When a healthcare provider makes a negligent error, patients can lose their lives—for instance, misdiagnosis, surgical mistakes, medication errors, etc.
Some occupations, such as construction, are inherently dangerous and lead to a large number of worker fatalities. When an employer and/or a third party’s negligence causes a worker’s death in a preventable accident, the family can hold them liable for wrongful death.
Defective products can lead to a wrongful death, and in those cases, the manufacturer, distributor, seller, or any other party involved in its distribution chain can be liable.
Other than accidents, criminal acts of violence is another leading cause of wrongful death, and in these cases, the surviving family can still hold the at-fault party liable.
Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Kentucky?
In Kentucky, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate can file a wrongful death claim. This person is often named in the deceased’s will, but the court can appoint a representative if not. Generally, it will be the surviving spouse, parents, or an adult child of the deceased. On the other hand, if the deceased does not have any surviving immediate family members, a distant relative may be asked.
Types of Compensation Available in a Kentucky Wrongful Death Case
The deceased’s estate may be able to recover the following types of compensation:
- Medical bills caused by the accident, which led to the death.
- Loss of expected financial support from the deceased.
- Loss of benefits.
- Funeral and burial services.
- Reasonable value of household services the deceased would have provided in their lifetime.
- Estate administration expenses.
- Reduction in the inheritance suffered by surviving children.
- Interest on top of the damages awarded, calculated from the date of death.
The claim may also include compensation for non-economic losses such as:
- The loss of the deceased’s love, companionship, comfort, care, assistance, moral support, training, and guidance.
- Loss of parental guidance.
- Compensation for the conscious pain and suffering the deceased endured due to their injuries before their death.
In some cases, punitive damages may also be awarded if the at-fault party’s actions were intentional or extremely reckless.
What Is the Time Limit for Wrongful Death Claims in Kentucky?
Each state makes its own laws that stipulate a deadline for wrongful death claims to be filed, and in Kentucky, it is one year from the date of the victim’s death. If the personal representative of the deceased’s estate does not file a lawsuit within the time limit, the court will likely dismiss the case, and the surviving family will lose their chance of recovering compensation. In cases where a personal representative of the deceased’s estate has yet to be appointed after a year, then the statute of limitations is extended to two years. Schedule a free consultation with a Kentucky wrongful death attorney to learn more about your potential case.