The death of a loved one is a painful experience. When the death happens because of the negligence of someone else, the emotional and monetary ramifications may be catastrophic. Wrongful death laws in Kentucky provide an option for family members to hold someone responsible or receive compensation for the loss.

What is wrongful death?

The state of Kentucky defines wrongful death as the death of a person because of an injury caused by the negligence or wrongful act of someone else. There are four key elements to a wrongful death suit. They are:

  • Negligence
  • Breach of duty
  • Causation
  • Damages

A wrongful death suit is a civil action. The family may win compensatory damages that cover mental anguish and loss of income. The court may also award punitive damages if the accident was reckless or egregious.

Who can file a wrongful death suit?

A personal representative of the deceased’s estate, named by the probate court, can file a wrongful death claim. The appointed representative files the lawsuit on behalf of the family and any compensation received from the suit goes to the estate and family members.

Kentucky statutes require any amount recovered first go toward funeral expenses and attorney’s fees. Afterward, the money gets distributed in the following manner:

  1. Husband or wife, but no children
  2. Spouse and children
  3. If no spouse, then children
  4. If no spouse or children, then parents
  5. When no surviving family members, then the personal estate

A family member has a limited amount of time to file a wrongful death claim. Kentucky’s statute of limitations is two years from the date of death. A surviving spouse or minor children must file a loss of consortium claim within one year from the death date.