Losing a loved one is never easy, but certain circumstances are more difficult than others. A death due to old age or as the result of a long illness, for example gives loved ones and family members a chance to make peace. It also provides the deceased with ample opportunity to get his or her affairs in order. When a death is sudden, survivors may have a lot of feelings and grief to work through. If that death was the result of an accident caused by another, it’s quite natural to want some form of justice.
Sometimes, the mistakes that cause a death are criminal. These could include drunk driving or texting while driving. People choose to break the law, and tragedy results. Other times, the mistakes may not clearly result from a crime, even though there’s no question who was responsible for the death. In both of these scenarios, surviving family members should consider filing a wrongful death lawsuit.
Kentucky law is quite clear about wrongful death claims. There are certain limitations on filing such a claim. For example, there is a one year period after the date of death in which survivors can file a claim. Another limitation is that only certain parties can bring a wrongful death claim under state law.
Typically, the beneficiaries of a wrongful death suit are the surviving spouse and minor children of the deceased. If there are no children, everything goes to the spouse. If there are children but no spouse, the children would receive all proceeds from such a claim. For those without spouses or children, parents may also file a claim. In cases where the deceased has no parents, spouse or children, a representative of the estate can file a lawsuit. Any compensation would go into the estate.
A wrongful death claim allows the surviving family members of the deceased to claim actual damages related to the death. These could include loss of income, loss of companionship, loss of services, medical expenses and funeral costs. If the death resulted from a willful act or gross negligence, the people filing the claim can also seek punitive damages from the responsible party.
In some situations where a death resulted from severe bodily injury, family members may have grounds for a survival action. These claims focus on the pain and suffering of the deceased caused by the actions of another. Any injuries and damages that would reasonably create a personal injury claim can also be grounds for survival actions. Knowing your legal rights as they pertain to the details of your situation can help you understand how to move forward after the wrongful death of a loved one.