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What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Death Claim?

Wrongful death is a tragic event that can result from another person’s negligence or intentional act. In Kentucky, a statute of limitations specifies how long you have to file a claim. As a result, when you lose someone because of someone else’s wrongdoing, not only do you have to deal with the tragedy, but you must also deal with the complexity of filing a wrongful death claim as soon as possible to preserve your legal rights.

How Long Do You Have to File a Wrongful Death Claim in Kentucky?

In Kentucky, the statute of limitations provides you one year from the date of the death to file a wrongful death lawsuit. Failing to file your lawsuit within one year could result in losing your right to recover compensation. It is important to note that the clock starts when the victim dies.

What Is the Discovery Rule?

The discovery rule is one exception to the statute of limitations for a wrongful death lawsuit. Under this rule, the statute of limitations does not begin until the plaintiff discovers, or reasonably should have discovered, that someone else’s misconduct caused the death. However, that does not mean you have forever to file a wrongful death lawsuit.

Knowing the relevant timeline for filing your wrongful death claim is essential. If you fail to file within the required timeline, you will likely be unable to seek compensation through the court system, even if you would otherwise be entitled to compensation.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Kentucky?

In Kentucky, a personal representative of the deceased individual’s estate can recover compensation on behalf of the estate and the surviving family. The personal representative is usually named in the deceased’s will, or they can be court-appointed. Generally, it will be someone close to the deceased, such as an immediate family member.

When the personal representative recovers compensation, the money for funeral expenses, cost of administration, and attorney fees will be subtracted before the funds are distributed. When distributing funds, the personal representative must distribute funds as follows:

  • If the deceased has a surviving spouse and no children, the surviving spouse will receive all the funds.
  • If the deceased has a surviving spouse and children, the surviving spouse shall get half the money while the children split the other half.
  • If the deceased has children but no surviving spouse, the funds will be split evenly among the surviving children.
  • If the deceased has no surviving spouse or children, their parents will be compensated.
  • If the deceased has no immediate surviving family, the money will become part of their estate and be distributed as their will dictates.

Recoverable Compensation in a Wrongful Death Claim

When seeking compensation in a wrongful death claim, you can pursue various types of damages, including:

  • Medical expenses: These expenses could be sought if the deceased received medical treatment before they passed away.
  • Funeral and burial expenses: Funerals are expensive and are a burden you should not have to face if someone else caused the wrongful death. As a result, Kentucky allows you to recover funeral and burial expenses.
  • Lost income: If the deceased contributed money to their family, their lost income might be recoverable.
  • Loss of benefits: If the deceased had their family on their benefits plan, you might be able to recover the value of the benefits, such as health insurance. Additionally, if they could have received pension benefits, that could be recovered too.
  • Loss of companionship: You may be able to recover compensation for the loss of companionship, support, and intimacy you have experienced because of the wrongful death.
  • Punitive damages: In some cases, you may be able to obtain punitive damages. These damages are not intended to compensate for your losses but rather to punish the defendant for their actions. For example, you can usually seek punitive damages if the act that caused the wrongful death was willful or resulted from gross negligence.

Factors that May Affect the Amount of Recoverable Compensation

The amount of recoverable compensation in a wrongful death lawsuit can vary depending on the facts of the case. Factors that can affect the amount of compensation recovered include:

  • The age, health, and earning capacity of the deceased person
  • The emotional and financial impact of the deceased person’s death

What needs to be proven in terms of damages?

To establish damages in a wrongful death claim, it is necessary to demonstrate that the responsible party’s actions resulted in losses to the surviving family members of the deceased. To accomplish this, your attorney will diligently accumulate evidence, which may include medical bills and pay stubs, and might also seek experts’ opinions to calculate and establish the extent of your damages. These damages can encompass financial losses, such as medical expenses, lost earnings, and the loss of potential future earnings, as well as intangible losses like pain and suffering and emotional distress. It is important to recognize that every case is distinct and unique; hence the amount of damages you may qualify will hinge upon the specific circumstances and facts surrounding your case.

How do you establish a breach of duty?

To establish a breach of duty, it is necessary to demonstrate how the party at fault failed to fulfill their responsibility of care. This involves providing evidence that illustrates the specific actions or behaviors that constitute a breach. For instance, if a person is responsible for another’s death due to speeding, it is crucial to establish that the driver had a duty to avoid speeding and that they were indeed exceeding the speed limit at the time of the accident. Simply stating a general duty of care is not enough; it is necessary to present concrete proof of the breach of duty, such as eyewitness accounts, video footage, or data from speed monitoring devices. By effectively demonstrating how the responsible party deviated from their duty to exercise reasonable care, it becomes possible to establish a breach of duty in a wrongful death case.

Contact Sampson Law Firm for Help with Your Wrongful Death Claim

At Sampson Law Firm, we understand how devastating and impactful losing a loved one is on your life. Unfortunately, no compensation can make up for your loss, but you deserve justice, nonetheless.

Our wrongful death attorneys are experienced in handling these types of cases and will fight for your best interests. To discuss your legal options with one of the knowledgeable Sampson Law Firm attorneys, contact us today at (502) 584-5050 or reach out to us online for a free case evaluation.

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