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Kentucky Wrongful Death Laws

Whether you're coasting on the 75 through bluegrass country or working at a construction site with dangling beams on the crane above you, there is always the potential for a random injury, or worse, as you go about your daily life. Accidents have been ranked as the fourth leading cause of death in Kentucky. Often the result of crashes on Kentucky's roadways, they can also be due to workplace accidents, especially in the manufacturing and construction fields, two that are well known to Kentuckians.

Whenever there is an unexpected and accidental death that could have been prevented, Kentucky wrongful death laws exist to help compensate loved ones trying to pick up the pieces. However, there are some important rules that can determine who can recover and how much.

Who Benefits From a Kentucky Wrongful Death Case?

Normally, the person filing a case in court must be the one who actually suffered an injury as a result of a violation of law. That's not possible in a wrongful death case, but even after a person's death, his or her estate lives on for legal purposes. Under Kentucky law, it is the personal representative of the the estate that has the authority to prosecute a wrongful death case. This individual is either the executor or administrator of the estate who is appointed by the court to administer and wind down the estate until all debts are paid and assets distributed.

When a wrongful death case ends up in a favorable court verdict or settlement, Kentucky law directs that any award be paid out as follows:

  • If a widow/widower and children: Half to widow/widower and half to any children;
  • If a widow/widower, but no children: All to the widow/widower;
  • If no widow/widower, but children: All to the children;
  • If no widow/widower and no children: All to the parents; or
  • If no widow/widower, no children, and no parents: All to the decedent's estate.

Kentucky Wrongful Death Laws: An Overview

You can learn more about specific Kentucky wrongful death laws by consulting the chart below.


Kentucky Revised Statutes Section 411.130 (action for wrongful death)

Kentucky Revised Statutes Section 411.133 (wrongful death actions can include actions for personal injury against the decedent)

Kentucky Revised Statutes Section 411.135 (parents can recover damages for loss of affection and companionship in actions for wrongful death of a minor)

Kentucky Revised Statutes Section 411.137 (parents who have abandoned the care and maintenance of a child cannot recover for wrongful death of a child)

Kentucky Revised Statutes Section 413.140 (statute of limitations)

Who May Bring an Action?

The personal representative of the deceased.

Are Punitive Damages Recoverable?


Statute of Limitations

Any action for wrongful death must be brought within 1 year of the injury causing death.

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Kentucky Wrongful Death Laws: Related Resources

Get Legal Help with Your Wrongful Death Case in Kentucky

If you've experienced the loss of a loved one, no amount of money could ever truly match the value of that person's presence in your life. However, in cases where a death was preventable, Kentucky law tries its best to determine damages to help you carry on with your life. Find out how Kentucky wrongful death laws apply to your situation by speaking to a local personal injury attorney today.

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