The legal theory behind tort law is to make the injured party whole again. When you’ve lost a beloved family member through the negligence or harmful act of another, you may feel that nothing will heal the emptiness in your life. Even if you and your family are hurting financially, you may not want to face the difficulty of consulting an attorney and filing a lawsuit at this difficult time.
Most often, wrongful death lawsuits are about obtaining justice and holding the responsible party accountable. Though nothing will bring your loved one back, justice can provide a measure of healing and closure.
Recently the family of a teenager who drowned at Transylvania University summer camp swimming pool filed a wrongful death lawsuit. They stated their reason for filing the lawsuit as wishing to hold somebody accountable for their son’s death, and to prevent future tragedies. If a teen is allowed to drown at a swimming pool with a dozen teenagers and two lifeguards, somebody was clearly negligent.
Kentucky Wrongful Death Law
Every state has its own wrongful death statutes. Kentucky Revised Statute 411.130 governs wrongful death. In Kentucky, the probate court appoints a representative for the decedent’s estate. This personal representative is responsible to file a wrongful death lawsuit on behalf of the estate. A Kentucky wrongful death action may seek damages from the party who is responsible for the death, either through negligence or by an intentional act such as assault or murder.
For example, if your loved one is hurt in a car accident and dies of the injuries, a wrongful death lawsuit could be filed against the other driver who was texting while driving (negligence). When your attorney discovers that the other automobile had defective brakes, which contributed to the accident, the manufacturer of the brakes and maybe others would also be named in the lawsuit. If the other driver was on a job-related errand at the time of the accident, that party’s employer would also be named. Many times, there is more than one party at least partly responsible for a wrongful death
Kentucky Wrongful Death Damages
In Kentucky, once the wrongful death lawsuit is litigated or settled, the estate will receive the compensation to be disbursed. The estate pays the funeral expenses and reasonable cost of litigation. The remaining damages are then distributed to family in this manner:
- Surviving spouse and children
- If no spouse – children
- If no children – spouse
- If no spouse or children – parents (birth or adoptive)
If the decedent has no immediate family members, the award goes to the estate, and after debts are paid, is distributed to those named in the will or the legal heirs if there is no will.
Punitive Damages: Kentucky is one of the states which allows punitive damages in wrongful death lawsuits. Punitive damages are awarded to punish wrongdoers and discourage future unlawful or reckless behavior. Though punitive damages are rarely awarded, they are perhaps most often awarded in wrongful death cases, and the punitive damage awards can be huge, often running into tens of millions of dollars. When a jury awards a high amount in punitive damages, they want people to pay attention and heed the warning about shockingly irresponsible or malicious behavior.
Kentucky Statute of Limitations
The time limit in Kentucky for filing a lawsuit for wrongful death is one year from the date of death. This isn’t a big window for grieving family members to contact an attorney, but the lawsuit should be filed before witnesses forget what they saw or evidence is altered or destroyed. It is very important to contact a wrongful death attorney as soon as possible. Family members have said that in filing a lawsuit they regained a sense of power over the situation, and it helped to ease the pain.
Isaacs & Isaacs wrongful death law firm would be honored to represent you as you seek justice for your loss. We are on call day-and-night to help in your legal crisis. Call 800-800-888, or fill out our online form to speak with an experienced Isaacs & Isaacs wrongful death attorney.