A wrongful death case can only be brought by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. Therefore, the first step is for Probate Court to appoint a personal representative. A petition must be filed to probate the Will. This is done in the probate office in the county of residence. If the deceased had a Will at the time of death, an administrator would be appointed. If there was no Will, you file in interstate and an executor is appointed. Usually a surviving family member or close relative of the deceased acts as the personal representative of the estate.
Many people are surprised to learn that Kentucky law only allows certain family members to recover for the wrongful death of a loved one. This is the case whether the death occurred as the result of a tragic vehicle accident or from some other negligent action caused by a third party. In most wrongful death and fatal accident cases, recovery and compensation are limited to a surviving spouse and children. However, you should always contact an attorney to check who is entitled to receive the money from the settlement.
In most Kentucky wrongful death cases, the estate has the claim for damages. The Kentucky Revised Statutes list the order in which the heirs-at-law can have the settlement or jury verdict amount distributed. Generally, the surviving spouse receives 50% and the surviving children receive 50% divided equally between them. If there are no children, then all of the money would go to the surviving spouse. If there is no spouse, then all of the money would be divided equally among the children. If there is no spouse and no children, then the decedent’s parents are the beneficiary.
The estate is typically allowed to claim the following damages for the deceased family member:
- Lost earnings
- Medical expenses
- Funeral expenses
- Pain and suffering experienced by the decedent before death
The estate of the deceased may have a claim for loss of power to work and earn money or loss of income that the decedent was expected to earn over the course of their lifetime. The estate may also make a claim for and recover for any pain and suffering that the decedent experienced between the time of the injury and the death. The estate may also recover any medical bills in the treatment of the decedent as a result of the accident.
In the case of the wrongful death of a child, the surviving parent may be able to recover for loss of consortium. That is the right of association and companionship with a loved one.
In the case of a surviving spouse, they may be able to file a claim for loss of consortium in some instances.
If you’ve lost a loved one due to the negligence of another driver, you need to get legal advice as soon as possible. You’ll want to make sure any evidence that will help your case can still be gathered, and you’ll want to make sure that the evidence is not destroyed. A wrongful death attorney can help you understand your case and Kentucky law. You want an attorney who cares about you. You'll find all that and much more in Mike Schafer, Chris Rogers, and The Schafer Law Office.
With Mike Schafer and Chris Rogers on your side, you’ll be in good hands. The Schafer Law Office has been helping personal injury victims get compensated for more than 25 years. Unlike big law firms who will have other people work on your case, Mike or Chris is personally involved in every case.
The Schafer Law Office knows the challenges and pitfalls of personal injury cases (especially in Kentucky), all the tactics of the “other” side and how to best present the facts. They can handle the brutal tactics of the insurance companies. In fact, before Mike opened The Schafer Law Office in personal injury and accident law, Mike worked for an insurance defense firm and Chris worked for a global insurance company. They really know all the tactics the insurance companies have up their sleeves.