On Sunday, October 20, 2019, a Tennessee woman was killed in a crash in Pike County, Kentucky. The accident happened on US 23 just outside of Pikeville. Two others were severely injured in the accident and were taken to a local hospital.
While it’s not clear who was at fault in this accident, it brings up an issue involving the filing of wrongful death suits. If a family member is killed while in another state, where do you file a wrongful death claim? Can you file in the state it happened even if you don’t live there? Do you have to file in your own state?
Jurisdiction to Hear a Case
Before a court can hear a case on any issue, it must have jurisdiction over the type of case (subject matter) and the parties involved in the suit. When someone lives in a state and gets injured in that state by someone else who lives in that state, there is no question of jurisdiction. Everyone involved lives in the state and the accident happened in the state—no problem.
However, can some who lives out of state file a claim in another state? In most cases, the answer is yes. In this example, Kentucky has jurisdiction over car accidents that happen in its state and over the people who drive their cars in its state thus giving Kentucky the legal authority to hear the case.
Jurisdiction over the Person
The key in the above case for jurisdiction is whether Kentucky has jurisdiction over the defendant (whoever was at fault). Kentucky courts have held that anyone driving in their state on their roads has sufficient contacts to assert jurisdiction over them if they get into an accident on Kentucky roads.
Typically, any contact like driving on the roads, working in a business, doing business with others in a state, are all sufficient contacts to assert jurisdiction over someone from another state.
Wrongful Death and Jurisdiction
In a wrongful death case, the family has the right to file, and when they voluntarily file a case in Kentucky, then the state asserts jurisdiction over them as well. This allows a family from Tennessee-or any other state-to file a wrongful death claim in the loss of a loved one due to someone else’s negligence.
This doesn’t mean that the allegedly at fault drive is negligent, it just means that the court has the legal authority to decide who was at fault and to award damages, if the necessary.
Contact a Kentucky Personal Injury Attorney
If you’ve lost a loved one from an auto accident while they were in Kentucky, you need to talk to a Lexington Wrongful Death Attorney. Accident victims often wonder if they need an attorney, and the answer is almost always yes. The insurance company agents have years of experience and are good at their job which is to pay you as little as possible or nothing at all. You need someone just as experienced to help you level the field. Talk to someone you can trust to be on your side and get you what is yours under the law.
The attorneys at Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC, have that knowledge and a combined 100 years’ experience in helping clients get the results they deserve. To discuss your case, call Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC today, at (800) 937-8443 or click here to contact them online.