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No one needs to tell you how much your close relatives add to your life. Consequently, if someone’s actions cause the death of a person who is close to you, you may suffer long-term emotional and financial harm.

In Kentucky, certain individuals can pursue compensation for the wrongful death of a loved one. To boost your odds of receiving your fair share, though, you must understand how the commonwealth’s wrongful death statute works.

What are wrongful death claims?

A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil action that attempts to hold a person legally responsible for the death of another. If someone’s negligence, intentional conduct or bad behavior causes the death of a close family member, a wrongful death claim may give you financial compensation to help you manage end-of-life expenses, such as medical bills and funeral costs. You may also receive compensation for your loved one’s lost wages and his or her pain and suffering, among other things.

Who may file a wrongful death lawsuit?

Not everyone has the standing to file a wrongful death claim. In Kentucky, only a representative of a deceased person’s estate may bring a wrongful death cause of action. Nonetheless, the surviving spouse, children and parents of a deceased person may benefit from a wrongful death suit.

If the estate’s representative is successful, family members receive compensation in the following order:

  1. No surviving children: The surviving spouse receives 100% of the award
  2. Surviving children and a surviving spouse: The children and spouse split the award
  3. No surviving spouse: The surviving children receive 100% of the award
  4. No surviving spouse and children: The surviving parents split the award
  5. No surviving spouse, children and parents: The estate receives 100% of the award

When must you file a wrongful death lawsuit?

Kentucky law typically requires personal representatives to file claims within one year of the person’s death. Therefore, if you intend to pursue compensation from whomever caused or contributed to your loved one’s death, you likely must act quickly.