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The Louisville wrongful death attorneys at the Karl Truman Law Office understand the challenges faced by families who lost a loved one due to the negligent or deliberately harmful act of another.

Our lawyers know there is no amount of money that can compensate for the loss of a family member, but we can help you and other survivors pursue the financial security you need to move forward with your lives. Please call us at (502) 222-2222 for your free case evaluation with one of our compassionate attorneys.

Kentucky Wrongful Death Laws

In Kentucky, both the state constitution and statutory law address wrongful death. The Constitution of the Commonwealth of Kentucky reads:

“Whenever the death of a person shall result from an injury inflicted by negligence or wrongful act, then, in every such case, damages may be recovered for such death, from the corporations and persons so causing the same.”

Kentucky Revised Statute 411.130 echoes the constitutional statement and adds that if “the act was willful or the negligence gross, punitive damages may be recovered.” Punitive damages are compensation awarded beyond actual damages as punishment to the defendant and to deter others from similar conduct.

Wrongful Death FAQ

What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

In personal injury claims, an injured individual pursues compensation for his or her own injuries stemming from the negligence of another. The mechanism is similar for wrongful death lawsuits, but instead the victim’s surviving family members pursue compensation from the at-fault party.

Although the laws vary from state to state, both the estate of the deceased individual (known as the decedent) and his or her loved ones may be awarded damages in Kentucky and Indiana wrongful death lawsuits.

How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Kentucky?

The statute of limitations on wrongful death claims in Kentucky is 1 year from the date that the victim passes away. This affords surviving family members very little time to take action if their loved one is killed due to the negligence of another party.

As in cases where an injury is not discovered until a later date, you may be able to take action more than 1 year later if the cause of death is not immediately discovered. However, it is in your best interest to contact an attorney as soon as possible to avoid missing your opportunity to pursue compensation.

How Long Do I Have to File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Indiana?

In Indiana, the statute of limitations for wrongful death claims is 2 years from the date of the victim’s death. Your case may still be viable after 2 years if the cause of death was not evident within that time frame, but there is no guarantee that you have this extra time.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Kentucky?

Kentucky law requires the personal representative of the estate of the deceased to file a lawsuit for wrongful death. The decedent’s will may specify the personal representative, or the matter may have to pass through probate court if the decedent did not have a will or the will does not name a personal representative.

Although the personal representative files the claim, surviving family members are awarded damages in the event of a settlement or favorable verdict. Legally, compensation in a wrongful death claim may be awarded to:

  • Spouses
  • Children
  • Parents
  • Other individuals specified in the will (if the deceased was unmarried, has no children, and whose parents are no longer alive)

If you have questions about your right to file a wrongful death claim, contact the Karl Truman Law Office today for a free consultation.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Claim in Indiana?

In Indiana, the personal representative of the deceased’s estate must file a wrongful death lawsuit in cases where the decedent is an adult. According to the Civil Law and Procedure section of the Indiana Code, the estate may recoup damages for medical care, funeral arrangements, and burial or cremation, while spouses, children, and dependent next of kin may recover compensation for lost earnings and “loss of the adult person’s love and companionship.”

In cases involving the death of a child, one or both parents or a legal guardian are the parties who must file a wrongful death claim. The parent, parents, or guardian may be awarded compensation for damages such as:

  • Loss of love and companionship
  • Loss of services
  • Medical costs incurred before death
  • Funeral expenses
  • The cost of burial or cremation

For the purposes of wrongful death litigation, a person is considered a child if he or she is under the age or 20, or 23 if he or she is in college or attending a trade or technical school.

How Is Financial Compensation Determined in Wrongful Death Cases?

The answer to this question depends on the specific facts in the case, including the circumstances of your loved one’s death and the nature and extent of the damages you and your family have suffered. The court may consider the following factors in a wrongful death claim:

  • The extent of lost earnings and benefits
  • The cost of medical, funeral, and burial expenses
  • The extent of pain and suffering related to the fatal injuries
  • The defendant’s degree of negligence

Punitive damages may be awarded in wrongful death claims in Kentucky. However, Indiana does not allow punitive damages in wrongful death cases.

Are There Damage Caps on Wrongful Death Compensation in Kentucky?

Kentucky law imposes no limitations on damages in a wrongful death claim. However, the compensation awarded to surviving family members may be reduced if it is determined that the decedent was partially responsible for his or her death.

In personal injury and wrongful death cases, a victim may be found partially at fault and still be awarded compensation. This is known as the law of comparative negligence.

Are There Damage Caps on Wrongful Death Compensation in Indiana?

In cases where the decedent is not married and doesn’t have children, Indiana law caps damages in wrongful death claims at $300,000. Other state damage caps may apply if the decedent is survived by a spouse or children, such as the $1.65 million/$1.8 million cap on medical malpractice damages (depending on when the injury occurred) and the $700,000 damage cap for claims involving the negligence of public employees or government entities.

Who Can Pursue a Wrongful Death Case in Kentucky?

Kentucky law states wrongful death action shall be taken by “the personal representative of the deceased.” This personal representative may be the executor indicated in the decedent’s will; if the deceased did not have a will, an administrator will be appointed.

This representative will also administer the distribution of damages to eligible parties in successful wrongful death cases. In Kentucky, wrongful death damages may be recovered by spouses and dependent children, including stepchildren and adopted children, as well as surviving parents and distant relatives if there are no immediate surviving family members.

Kentucky statutory law also details the order and amounts in which wrongful death damages are distributed.

Wrongful Death Damages

Compensation in Kentucky wrongful death lawsuits may include money for actual damages such as:

  • Medical costs
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Loss of income
  • Loss of benefits

In some circumstances, damages for pain and suffering and loss of companionship may also be recovered. As mentioned above, Kentucky wrongful death law also allows for the awarding of punitive damages if the act that resulted in wrongful death was deliberate or caused by gross negligence.

For additional information, please see our Questions about Wrongful Death page.

If you believe a family member’s death was the result of another’s negligence, please contact the Karl Truman Law Office today by calling (502) 222-2222 or completing the form on this page for your free case consultation. Our wrongful death lawyers welcome clients from the greater Louisville, Kentucky, and Jeffersonville, Indiana, areas.