What is a Wrongful Death?
Wrongful death in Kentucky is a death that results from a wrongful act or neglect by another person. When a death like this occurs, the deceased person’s personal representative may file a wrongful death claim. While a wrongful death claim is similar in nature to a personal injury claim, the person who was injured—and died from those injuries—is no longer able to bring their case to court, so another person must do so on behalf of the deceased with the help of our wrongful death attorneys.
A wrongful death lawsuit asserts that the victim’s death was due to negligence or another unjust action on the part of the person or entity being sued. The defendant’s wrongful conduct in the case must have created a direct series of events that led to the death. The victim’s survivors are entitled to monetary damages because of those actions. In its simplest form, wrongful death occurs as a direct result of the wrongful act of another person or entity and includes but is not limited to:
- Intentional attacks such as assault and battery
- A death during the commission of another crime
- Vehicle manslaughter
- Medical malpractice
- Product Liability
- Workplace negligence
If you have suffered the loss of a loved one because of negligence or another wrongful act, Adams Law can help. Of course, money is no substitute for losing someone you love. Money can, however, help you pay your monthly bills, help educate your children, and more. Our wrongful death attorneys have the experience and skills necessary to handle all the legal details on your behalf, working hard to obtain an equitable financial settlement on your behalf.
What Must Be Proven in a Wrongful Death Claim?
For a wrongful death claim to be proven, there are four key elements that must be shown. These elements are:
- The death must have been caused in part or in whole by the recklessness, carelessness, or negligence of another person or entity.
- It must be shown that the defendant owed a duty to the deceased and that the duty was breached. As an example, when we get into our car, we have a duty to follow all traffic laws and drive safely. Medical health providers have a duty to provide the same level of care as any other equally trained medical health provider would have done.
- After proving the death was caused by negligence and the defendant owed the deceased a breach of duty, causation must be shown. This means it must be shown how the negligence or recklessness directly caused the death.
- Finally, there must be damages, or no wrongful death claim can be filed. Damages could include: hospital costs, other medical expenses, burial and funeral expenses, loss of income, loss of future earnings, loss of inheritance, loss of protection or guidance for children, loss of consortium for a spouse, and the pain and suffering the victim experienced prior to his or her death.
Who is Allowed to File a Kentucky Wrongful Death Claim?
The person who is allowed to file a Kentucky wrongful death claim is the executor of the decedent’s estate. Often, the executor may be the decedent’s spouse or the nearest living relative of the decedent. The settlement amount will be distributed as follows under Kentucky law:
- Suppose the decedent had a spouse but had no children or grandchildren. In that case, the wrongful death settlement will be distributed solely to the spouse following deductions for funeral expenses, legal fees, and court costs.
- When the decedent leaves both a spouse and children behind, the spouse will receive half of the settlement, and the children will receive the other half.
- If the decedent left no spouse but did leave behind a child or children, then the entire amount will be distributed to that child or children.
- When no spouse or children are left behind, the deceased’s parents will be entitled to the settlement.
- If the decedent left no spouse, children, or parents, the settlement will become a part of the decedent’s estate to be distributed to more distant relatives.
How Does a Civil Wrongful Death Case Differ from a Criminal Felony Case?
Under Kentucky law, even when the actions which caused the death were a felony, a wrongful claim may still be brought, although a wrongful death claim is a civil matter rather than a criminal matter. This means there could conceivably be a criminal case against the defendant as well as a civil, wrongful death claim. Liability in a wrongful death case is solely in terms of monetary damages, while a criminal trial can result in criminal penalties such as imprisonment.
What are the Statutes of Limitations for a Wrongful Death Claim in Kentucky?
Statutes of limitations govern the amount of time in which a wrongful death claim can be filed. These statutes vary considerably from state to state. Under Kentucky statutes of limitations, a wrongful death claim must be filed within one year from the date of the death or one year from the date an administrator for the estate is appointed. This means that the initial year can extend past the first official year, but only up to a maximum of one additional year, depending on when the estate is opened and an administrator appointed.
Why Should You Contact Adams Law?
In order to prevail in a wrongful death suit following a negligent act that resulted in death, it must be shown the other party was reckless or negligent, owed the deceased a duty of care, breached that duty, and caused specific damages. Wrongful death cases can be complex; therefore, a knowledgeable attorney from Adams Law can be crucial for a positive outcome. Our wrongful death attorneys have extensive experience in wrongful death lawsuits and will work vigorously on behalf of those who have lost a loved one. Contact Adams Law today—we will work hard on your behalf to ensure you receive a fair wrongful death settlement following a death caused by negligent or reckless behavior.