Who may be compensated in a Kentucky wrongful death case?

It is understandable when a loved one dies due to old age or a fatal illness, that while sad, such a death is a natural part of life. However, when a loved one dies due to the actions of another person, acceptance can be extremely difficult. Whether it is in a car accident, an act of medical malpractice or a fatal workplace accident, the sudden loss of a loved one can be emotionally devastating and can leave the victim's survivors in a precarious financial position. Therefore, people in Kentucky facing such a situation may wish to seek compensation through a wrongful death suit.

In Kentucky, wrongful death lawsuits are brought by a personal representative of the estate, instead of the survivors themselves. This is because while the deceased cannot file a lawsuit, their estate survives them. If a person prevails in a wrongful death action, either through an agreed-upon settlement or a favorable judgment, Kentucky law dictates who will be compensated.

If the deceased left behind a spouse and children, 50 percent of the award will go to the surviving spouse and 50 percent of the award will go to the deceased's children. If the deceased left behind a spouse but no children, 100 percent of the award will go to the surviving spouse. If the deceased was unmarried but had children, 100 percent of the award will go to the deceased's children. If the deceased was unmarried and did not have any children, 100 percent of the award will go to the deceased's parents. If the deceased was unmarried, had no children and did not have any surviving parents, 100 percent of the award will go to the deceased's estate.

As this shows, who will benefit from a wrongful death action depends on who survives the deceased. Kentucky statute address this issue, so it is important that those wishing to pursue a wrongful death action understand how they will be compensated under the law. Pursuing a wrongful death lawsuit can be an emotional process, especially when a person is grieving the loss of a loved one. However, while a successful lawsuit cannot bring back a loved one, the compensation obtained can help a person make ends meet as they adjust to their new life without the deceased.

Source: FindLaw, "Kentucky Wrongful Death Laws," accessed May 8, 2018

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