The sudden death of a loved one is traumatic. You may wonder how you will survive, emotionally and financially, if a person you counted on for support died because of the negligence of someone else.
As a surviving family member, you may have your personal representative file a wrongful death claim. You can seek compensation for your loss. However, the state of Kentucky is specific on how to file a claim and who can receive an award for damages.
What is wrongful death?
A wrongful death can come about by:
- Medical malpractice
- Nursing home abuse
- Premises and product liability
- Auto accidents
Kentucky statute defines wrongful death as the result of the negligence or wrongful act of another. Family members can receive damages from the person who caused the death. If the action was willful, the court may award punitive damages.
Who can sue for wrongful death?
Individual family members cannot file wrongful death claims. Only the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate may bring a claim to the court. If there is no personal representative, the probate court appoints one.
What are the damages awarded?
Damages are the compensation awarded to the family members or estate to pay for economic and noneconomic costs. Damages include:
- Lost income
- Funeral bills
- Medical bills
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of consortium
Kentucky outlines who can receive damages in the following order:
- A surviving spouse with no children receives the entire award.
- A surviving spouse with children split the damages equally.
- If there is no surviving spouse, but there are surviving children, the children split the award.
- The parents of the deceased receive the damages if there is no surviving spouse or children.
If there is no surviving spouse, children or parents, the award goes to the deceased person’s estate. After the estate pays any outstanding debts, the rest of the award goes to those named in the person’s will.