In Kentucky, the death of a person that results from an injury inflicted by a criminal act or negligence, survivors can seek damages for that death from the responsible party. Per Kentucky Revised Statute 411.130, the Constitution states that if the act was the result of gross negligence, punitive damages might also be recovered.
The statute, however, is unambiguous on who can seek damages. In the state, it is not the individual family members that file a wrongful death claim. Instead, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate would file the lawsuit on behalf of all family members.
Which Parties Can File a Lawsuit in a Wrongful Death Case?
Kentucky’s wrongful death statute specifies that only certain individuals may receive damages in a wrongful death case. Family members who are eligible to receive damages include:
- A surviving spouse with no children. In this instance, the spouse would receive the entire damage award.
- Surviving spouse with surviving children. In this case, the children and spouse divide damages equally amongst one another.
- No surviving spouse, but surviving children. Now, the children will split the damages equally amongst one another.
- No surviving spouse and no surviving children mean that the deceased’s surviving parents will receive the entire award.
What if There are No Surviving Family Members?
When there are no children, parents, or surviving spouse, the award then goes to the estate. In this case, non-family members may receive compensation for a wrongful death claim. The catch, however, is that the award is only paid to those named in the deceased’s will.
Also, the debts must be paid from the estate before the remaining compensation is paid to those named in the estate plan.
Calculating Wrongful Death Damages
Those claiming wrongful death damages receive only damages unique to what they have suffered because of the loved one’s death. Therefore, these costs include:
- Lost earning capacity of the deceased;
- Funeral bills;
- Pain and suffering before the deceased’s death;
- Medical bills before death;
- Loss of consortium for a child or spouse.
How Much Damage Can One Receive?
Some damages received in a wrongful death claim will vary. Punitive damages might be included if the death occurs from gross negligence. If the deceased suffered extensively before death, then the damages may be higher than if the deceased did not suffer.
Kentucky does not have damage caps on wrongful death awards; therefore, the jury can award as much as they see fit. However, the judge will be the final approval on those damages; therefore, the judge may decide that an award is too high and reduce accordingly.
Have You Suffered a Loss? Contact a Wrongful Death Attorney in Kentucky Today
If you have lost a loved one in an accident that was caused by someone’s malicious intent or gross negligence, you may be entitled to compensation. However, you must speak with an attorney in Kentucky that has experience handling such delicate claims.
Even if you are not family, if you are listed in the deceased’s estate, you could qualify for compensation too.