Losing a loved one is never easy. To make matters worse, the pain, frustration, and emotional heartache you feel can often be exacerbated by complex legal issues.
When someone’s negligent act leads to the injury and later death of another person, the deceased’s loved ones may have a claim for relief. Pursuing such a claim provides those loved ones with an opportunity to hold the negligent party accountable for his or her actions. This can also provide a sense of justice and closure.
However, navigating possible legal claims against those who caused the death can be time-consuming and difficult. Further, getting the settlement paid out is often complicated.
If you have lost someone you love due to the wrongful or negligent actions of another party, know you are not alone. Flora Templeton Stuart and her team of dedicated personal injury attorneys are here to help. We will fight to get you the compensation you need and deserve to help you through this difficult time.
What Is Wrongful Death?
Before discussing how wrongful death settlements are paid out, it is helpful to have a general understanding of what wrongful death is.
Wrongful Death Defined
According to Kentucky law, wrongful death is “the death of a person [that] results from an injury inflicted by the negligence or wrongful act of another.” When a wrongful death occurs, damages can be recovered from the person or corporation who caused the death.
Wrongful death claims often arise from car accidents, semi-truck accidents, and motorcycle accidents. However, wrongful death can occur in a wide variety of scenarios. So long as the negligent or wrongful actions of one party lead to the injury and subsequent death of another, a wrongful death claim may exist.
Who Can Bring a Wrongful Death Claim in Kentucky?
In Kentucky, the personal representative of the decedent’s estate is the party that files a wrongful death claim on behalf of the estate. Thus, before a claim can be filed, a personal representative must be appointed.
Typically, the administrator appointed is the decedent’s spouse, parent, or another family member, or others that may apply pursuant to Kentucky statute KRS 395.040. While the court prefers the surviving spouse, the court may look at those that are entitled to distribution pursuant to Kentucky Probate, or will appoint the applicant or applicants who the court judges “Will best manage the estate.”
Once a personal representative is appointed, it is then their responsibility to bring a wrongful death claim on the decedent’s behalf. Our experienced Kentucky wrongful death attorneys will move quickly to get the appropriate party appointed as the administrator of the estate so that the wrongful death claim can be prosecuted without delay. Such a claim shall be for the benefit of the deceased’s surviving spouse, children, and other surviving family members.
What Are Typical Damages in a Kentucky Wrongful Death Case?
So how are wrongful death settlements paid out? One of the first steps in pursuing your wrongful death settlement payment is figuring out what damages you can claim.
Examples of damages for which you can recover under Kentucky law include:
- Expenses related to administering the decedent’s estate;
- Funeral expenses;
- Medical bills incurred due to the injuries that resulted in your loved one’s death;
- Lost income of the deceased;
- Pain and suffering of the deceased before their death;
- Loss of consortium; and
- If the decedent was a minor child, the parents’ loss of affection and companionship of the minor child, pursuant to KRS 411.135.
Additionally, in cases of a willful act or gross negligence that led to someone’s death, wrongful death claimants may recover punitive damages, which is intended to punish the intentional or unlawful behavior of the defendant.
In What Order Are Wrongful Death Claims Paid?
Kentucky Statutes section 411.130(2) also dictates the order of distribution of any recovery in a wrongful death case. Funeral expenses, the costs of administration, and attorney fees are first subtracted from the total amount of recovery. Then, whatever remains is distributed in the following order:
- If there is a surviving spouse but no children, the entire amount goes to the surviving spouse;
- If there is a surviving spouse and one child or multiple children, the surviving spouse gets one-half while the children share the remaining half;
- If there is no surviving spouse but there are surviving children, the children share the entire amount; and
- If there is no surviving spouse and no surviving children, the decedent’s parents receive the entire amount.
If there is no spouse, children, or parents living, the recovery will then go toward paying off any debts attached to the estate of the decedent. Any remaining funds will go to more distant relatives of the decedent, according to the Kentucky probate laws of descent and distribution.
Your precise relationship to the deceased will affect what amount you may be able to recover. In some cases, depending on your degree of relationship to the deceased, you may not be able to recover anything at all. Before proceeding with a wrongful death lawsuit, contact an attorney to see what you may recover.
Consult a Kentucky Wrongful Death Lawyer Today
If you have questions about whether or how much you can recover, contact an attorney to discuss the details of your case.
The Flora Templeton Stuart Injury Accident Lawyer has been helping clients in need for decades. Our firm fights each day to help accident victims and their families recover. We will fight to do the same for you.
Additionally, our team provides legal services on a contingency fee basis. This means that you will pay us a fee only if we are able to recover compensation for you in your wrongful death case.
So don’t wait—contact the team of Flora Templeton Stuart online or by phone at (866) 673-0935 for your free initial consultation. We are available 24 hours a day and seven days a week to help you get the recovery you need and deserve.