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Do you have the legal right to a wrongful death suit in Kentucky?

December 7, 2018

Losing a loved one is never easy. It can take a long time to address the grief and rebuild your life. That process is infinitely more difficult when the person you love dies suddenly as a result of a traumatic car accident or gets struck by a vehicle as a pedestrian.

Unfortunately, motor vehicle collisions continue to happen every day, and surviving family members in Kentucky find themselves dealing with an unexpected loss. It is only natural in such a painful and difficult situation to wonder about your legal rights and how to hold the other driver accountable.

In certain situations, family members who are dependent on the deceased, such as spouses and children, may have the right under Kentucky law to bring a wrongful death lawsuit. It’s important to look at the situation as objectively as possible to determine if you will have a valid claim.

Wrongful death claims must include either negligence or a wrongful act

While the vast majority of motor vehicle collisions could have been prevented with more careful driving, that doesn’t always mean that the fatality that results is a wrongful death. Kentucky law has a very specific standard to qualify as a wrongful death situation.

Specifically, the investigation into the crash should indicate that the other driver is responsible for the collision. In some cases, negligence can lead to claims of wrongful death. Negligence claims can stem from poor driving practices, failing to maintain a vehicle or failing to adequately surveil the area prior to making a turn or passing another vehicle.

Families can also bring a wrongful death lawsuit in cases of wrongful acts. Any action which is against the law in Kentucky is a wrongful act. If someone ends up causing a fatal crash in the commission of a wrongful act, that death becomes a wrongful death. Wrongful acts that can lead to legal action may include drunk driving, drugged driving or even distracted driving.

Even if there isn’t a criminal conviction, you can still go to civil court

Many people mistakenly believe that a wrongful death lawsuit requires the conviction of the person responsible for the crash in some sort of crime related to the collision. Whether the issue was reckless driving, drunk driving or driving without a license, a conviction isn’t necessary for your family to take action.

In fact, the civil courts often offer an option for justice to families who do not have adequate evidence to pursue a conviction in criminal courts. Criminal courts require evidence that can convince a judge or jury beyond a reasonable doubt that a crime occurred. Civil lawsuits only need to meet a lower standard for evidence.

If your family did not receive the justice of a criminal conviction related to the collision, a wrongful death lawsuit in Lexington may provide you with some sort of legal closure to your family tragedy.