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When does a fatal traffic crash count as a wrongful death?

June 6, 2019

Motor vehicles are some of the most ubiquitous modern conveniences. They are owned by almost every family, and most working adults depend on them to perform their jobs. Part of vehicles being common means that most people don’t deeply consider the risk that they pose. They simply get in and drive or ride without much concern.

Unfortunately, while most people travel safely in motor vehicles, a few people get into crashes every day. Some of those people only have to deal with property damage. Other times, people wind up with injuries. In the most extreme cases, someone can die because of a collision. If your family lost someone in a motor vehicle crash, the consequences can prove devastating. It is emotionally difficult to adjust to life after a loss.

Your family is also going to likely have some financial struggles in the wake of a death. You may find yourself wondering if you have the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit. It’s important to understand that not every fatal car crash involves a wrongful death. However, some of them do.

How does Kentucky define wrongful death?

Whether a traffic-related death is wrongful or not depends on circumstances. The state of Kentucky defines a wrongful death as a death that results from the negligence or illegal actions of another party. If someone drove in a willfully reckless manner and then caused a fatal crash, that is probably an example of a wrongful death.

Drunk driving, distracted driving and speeding, especially at very high speeds, could all be examples of negligence on the road. The behaviors that are often against the law can also be wrongful acts. Wrongful acts could include attempting to flee police or otherwise breaking the law at the time of the crash.

If the police report from the crash shows that the other party committed a wrongful act or clearly drove in a negligent manner, that may be sufficient grounds for a wrongful death lawsuit.

Only certain people have the rights to file wrongful death claims

Kentucky law, like the law in most states, limits who has the right to bring a wrongful death lawsuit on the part of the deceased. Typically, the individual needs to be a dependent family member. Examples include spouses and children, although those with more extended family relationships may also have that right if there is no spouse or child to bring the claim.

The person who brings the claim can seek compensation for financial losses ranging from lost wages and medical and funeral expenses to property damage costs related to vehicle repairs. In some cases, additional losses, such as loss of services around the house and loss of consortium, can also be part of a Kentucky wrongful death lawsuit. An attorney can help you determine if you have a right to file a claim.