The death of a loved one is overwhelming and devastating for the family left behind, and the knowledge that the death was the direct result of someone else’s negligent actions can make it that much more painful. Contact us today for a free consultation if you believe a loved one was lost due to someone’s negligence. To speak to a lawyer, call 859-388-9393.
Wrongful death in Lexington Kentucky:
Wrongful death cases are civil cases. Since the deceased person is no longer alive to seek compensation from the person who caused their injuries and death, his or her personal representative can seek that compensation on behalf of the decedent’s surviving family members. Every state has its own wrongful death statute. Without a such a statute, no cause of action for wrongful death would exist. There would be no civil consequences for causing the death of another person, no matter how extensive the damages might be. Here are some common examples of accidents that might result in a wrongful death case:
- Motor vehicle crashes.
- Pedestrian and bicycle accidents.
- Construction accidents.
- Deaths caused by defective products.
- Deaths caused by a dangerously defective premises.
- Medical malpractice errors.
Strict Compliance is Required
Kentucky’s wrongful death statute is found at Kentucky Revised Statute 411.130. Wrongful death actions involve complicated litigation. To properly bring and maintain a wrongful death action in the Commonwealth, the courts require strict compliance with its wrongful death statute. That’s why you’ll want to arrange to take the time to meet with a Kentucky wrongful death lawyer from our offices who can begin guiding you and advocating for you through this complex and sensitive endeavor.
The Controlling Statute
Kentucky Revised Statutes section 411.130(1) states that if “the death of a person results from an injury inflicted by the negligence or wrongful act of another, damages may be recovered for the death from the person who caused it, or whose agent or servant caused it. If the act was willful or the negligence gross, punitive damages may be recovered.” The wrongful act or failure to act can be negligent or reckless. In the event of an intentional act that causes the death of a person, additional punitive damages can be sought.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Case?
Section 411.130(1) also tells us that only the personal representative of the decedent can bring a wrongful death action. If one was appointed in a will, that person would act as the personal representative in a wrongful death case. If the decedent died without a will, upon proper motion, the court can appoint a personal representative.
The Time Limit to File the Case
Kentucky has a strict time limit for filing of a wrongful death case. That’s known as a statute of limitations, and it’s short compared to other states. The personal representative has only one year from the date of death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Failure to file within that one year time limit is likely to operate as cause to have the case to be dismissed. The door of opportunity for compensation is then closed. There are very few exceptions to this harsh rule.
If an award of damages is made in a Kentucky wrongful death case, section 411.130(2) specifically details how that award is to be distributed. First, funeral and burial expenses go to the decedent’s estate along with reasonable costs in bringing the wrongful death case and any attorney fees not included in the recovery from the defendant. Then, regardless of whether the decedent had a will, the surviving family members share in the balance of the damages award. They take in the following order:
- If there is a surviving spouse and no children, the surviving spouse takes all of the damages award.
- If there is a surviving spouse and surviving children, they all share equally.
- If there is no surviving spouse but surviving children, the children share equally.
- With no surviving spouse or children, the balance goes to the decedent’s surviving parent or parents.
- With no surviving spouse, children or parents, the decedent’s estate takes. If a will does exist, the balance passes pursuant to the will. If there is no will, it passes to the decedent’s heirs.
Lexington Kentucky Wrongful Death Lawyer
As a personal injury law firm, we at Kaufman & Stigger, PLLC are prepared to handle a wide variety of cases in which someone has been harmed or died due to another’s negligence. Dealing with the untimely death of a family member is particularly difficult and traumatizing in and of itself. Then, there are the financial consequences. It’s impossible to bring back your family member, but it is possible to obtain financial compensation for your family. If your family member perished as a result of the carelessness and negligence of somebody else in Lexington or anywhere else in Kentucky, contact us as soon as possible to arrange for a free consultation and case review. We’ll listen carefully to you, answer your questions and advise you of your legal options. Remember that Kentucky only allows a short period of time for the filing of any wrongful death action.