Who Gets What in a Kentucky Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

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Your spouse, parent, or child in Kentucky died as a result of someone else’s actions or negligence. You think it’s only right that the person responsible for the death pays for your loss, so you’re planning to file a wrongful death lawsuit. What do you need to know?

Wrongful Death Definition

Here is Kentucky’s definition of wrongful death, as stated in the statute 411.130: “Whenever the death of a person results from an injury inflicted by the negligence or wrongful act of another, damages may be recovered for the death from the person who caused it, or whose agent or servant caused it. If the act was willful or the negligence gross, punitive damages may be recovered. The action shall be prosecuted by the personal representative of the deceased.”

Who May File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death suit is filed by a representative for the survivors, usually the executor of the decedent’s estate. This individual represents all of the survivors who suffer because of the person’s death, or the “real parties in interest,” which, according to Nolo, may include the following:

  • immediate family members;
  • life partners, financial dependents, and putative spouses;
  • distant family members;
  • anyone who suffers financially; and
  • parents of a deceased fetus.

Is There a Time Limit to File A Suit?

A wrongful death lawsuit must be filed within two years of the date of death, or no later than one year after an executor or administrator is appointed in probate court.

What Damages Can Be Recovered?

Per Avvo, those who sue for wrongful death can recover the following:

  • lost earnings of the deceased;
  • funeral expenses; and
  • personal injury damages that were incurred before the death, such as pain and suffering and medical expenses.

In Kentucky, the law will not allow people to sue for loss of enjoyment of life.

What Portion of Damages Does Each Party Receive?

According to Kentucky law, a monetary award for a wrongful death lawsuit first pays off funeral expenses, court and legal fees, and remaining medical bills for the deceased. What is left is distributed as follows:

  • If the deceased party is survived by a spouse but no children or grandchildren, the entire amount is awarded to the spouse.
  • If the deceased party is survived by a spouse and children, half goes to the spouse and half to the children.
  • If the deceased party is survived by children but no spouse, the entire amount goes to the children.
  • If the deceased party leaves no spouse or children, half goes to the mother and half to the father of the deceased; if only one parent is living, the entire amount goes to that parent; if the deceased was adopted, then the amount is distributed to the adoptive parents as it would be to natural parents.
  • If the deceased party is not survived by parents, children, or a spouse, the amount goes into the deceased’s estate. What is left after the decedent’s debts are paid is distributed to more distant relatives, as determined by the law of descent and distribution.

If someone caused the death of your loved one, call Gray and White Law at 502-210-8942 or toll free at 888-450-4456. We’ll set up a FREE, no-obligation consultation with a Louisville wrongful death attorney.