The loss of a spouse, child, or parent is devastating, and can also result in a serious financial burden. When that loss is the result of negligent, reckless, or even intentional acts committed by another person or corporation, you may be entitled to compensation from the party responsible for your loved one’s death. Wrongful death lawsuits are a way to recover money you and your family are owed. Below are some facts on how the lawsuits work, and what sorts of damages are available.
Who brings a wrongful death lawsuit?
When a family wishes to file a wrongful death lawsuit on their loved one’s behalf, they must first open an action in probate court to handle the individual’s estate. The probate court will appoint a personal representative for the person who died, who will stand in that person’s place for purposes of a wrongful death lawsuit. If the deceased person had a will and named an executor of their estate, the executor will generally be named the personal representative.
What sorts of losses are covered by a wrongful death lawsuit?
A wrongful death lawsuit is designed as a way for family members to receive the compensation that the deceased person would have been able to recover, had they not died. For example, if you were injured in an accident caused by a defective car, you would be able to sue the company for manufacturing and designing the defective car. If you had instead died in that accident, your survivors would instead bring a lawsuit for wrongful death caused by the defective car.
Families of persons wrongly killed can recover for items such as the loss of care and support that the deceased person would have provided, and their loss of earning capacity or contribution to the household. The costs of the funeral and burial are also a component of an award in a Kentucky wrongful death lawsuit and are paid into the estate.
Are there additional damages available if the death was caused intentionally or recklessly?
There are occasions where a family may be entitled to damages going beyond the actual costs caused by the loss. Where an individual or a company caused the death by acting recklessly, intentionally, or grossly negligently, then the family may be entitled to punitive damages, which are financial penalties intended to punish the wrongdoer for especially bad behavior. For example, if an individual was killed by a drunk driver, punitive damages may be available, whereas they would probably not be available where the driver simply forgot to check a blind spot before merging lanes, causing a crash.
If you have lost a loved one in Kentucky due to the negligent or reckless acts of another person or corporation, contact the Lexington law office of Todd W Burris PSC for a free consultation, at 859-252-2222.