When someone dies unexpectedly in Kentucky, their sudden passing will negatively impact the people closest to them. Their immediate family members and the people who they had the closest interpersonal relationships with will likely struggle to adjust to life after their death.
Many will experience not just emotional consequences but also financial consequences when someone in their family dies. Kentucky state law does protect people against such losses by codifying their right to pursue a wrongful death claim in civil court under certain circumstances.
However, not everyone impacted by someone’s death has the right to pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.
The representative of the estate makes the claim
Under Kentucky law, it is typically the personal representative of the estate who files a wrongful death lawsuit. The main exception to this rule is when a minor child dies. Even if there is no estate administration related to their passing, their parents can still pursue a wrongful death claim even if they aren’t technically serving as the representative of the estate.
The individual who files the lawsuit will be responsible for distributing any award or settlement proceeds among the family members after settling certain estate obligations, like funeral expenses. Spouses and children are typically the ones who inherit any wrongful death amounts, although parents and other close family members can inherit when someone dies without a spouse or children.
A wrongful death lawsuit can allow relative to recover compensation for lost wages and benefits, and pain and suffering the deceased experienced prior to death. In some cases, the courts will award punitive damages when the responsible party broke the law or engaged in some kind of gross negligence. Close family members can also make a claim related to the loss of consortium.
Learning about the rules that apply to Kentucky wrongful death claims can help families considering their legal options. Speaking with an experienced legal professional is advised.