Wrongful Death Lawsuits: Who Has the Legal Right to File?

June 9, 2023 Insights

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Losing a loved one is a devastating experience, and it can be even more painful if someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing causes the death. In such cases, the deceased’s family members may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit and receive assistance from attorneys to seek compensation for their losses.

However, not everyone can file a wrongful death lawsuit in Kentucky. This article will discuss who can file a wrongful death lawsuit. 

What Is a Wrongful Death Lawsuit?

A wrongful death lawsuit is a civil lawsuit filed by family members or the estate of a deceased person who died due to someone else’s negligence, recklessness, or intentional act. 

The purpose of a wrongful death lawsuit is to hold the responsible party accountable and seek compensation for the losses suffered by the deceased’s family members.

In Kentucky, the family of the deceased can seek compensation for the following losses:

  • Medical expenses
  • Funeral and burial expenses
  • Lost wages
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of companionship
  • Loss of parental guidance

It is important for surviving family members to understand their legal rights when filing a wrongful death lawsuit. An experienced wrongful death attorney will be able to review the facts of the case and provide advice on the best course of action.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Kentucky?

In Kentucky, the right to file a wrongful death lawsuit is governed by statute. Under Kentucky law, only specific individuals have the legal standing to file a wrongful death lawsuit, including the following: 

Personal Representative of the Deceased

The personal representative is typically named in the deceased’s Will or appointed by the court. The court would appoint one if the deceased did not leave a Will or appoint a personal representative.

The personal representative is also responsible for managing the deceased’s estate and pursuing legal claims on behalf of the estate. This includes filing a wrongful death lawsuit if necessary. The damages recovered in a wrongful death lawsuit are paid to the estate and distributed to the deceased’s heirs according to Kentucky’s inheritance laws.

Surviving Spouse

If the deceased was married at the time of death, the surviving spouse has the legal standing to file a wrongful death lawsuit. The surviving spouse is entitled to recover damages for the loss of the deceased’s companionship, love, affection, and any financial losses from the death.

Surviving Children

Under Kentucky law, a child may be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit if their parent or guardian has died due to another person’s negligence or intentional actions. This means that even if the child was not directly harmed by the negligent or intentional actions of the responsible party, they could still seek damages for the wrongful death of their parent or guardian.

Even if the children are minors, as long as they are the deceased’s biological children or were legally adopted by the deceased, they can file a lawsuit. A minor child’s legal guardian, such as a parent, may also file a wrongful death lawsuit on their behalf.

Surviving Parents

The deceased’s parents have the legal right to file a wrongful death lawsuit if the deceased had no spouse or children. A parent can bring a wrongful death claim if they are the surviving parent of the deceased, regardless of whether they have legal custody or guardianship of the deceased.

Other Dependent Family Members

In some cases, other dependent family members may have the legal standing to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Kentucky. This may include siblings, grandparents, or other family members financially dependent on the deceased. 

However, the legal standing of these family members will depend on the specific facts of the case and the court’s interpretation of Kentucky’s wrongful death statute.


If you have lost a loved one in such circumstances, you may be entitled to file a wrongful death lawsuit in Kentucky. Suppose you are unsure about your legal rights or have questions about filing a wrongful death lawsuit. In that case, it is best to consult a reputable law firm specializing in wrongful death to provide the guidance you need during this difficult time.

We can assist if you require the services of a Kentucky wrongful death attorney. Circeo Law Firm focuses on assisting clients who have been hurt or lost a loved one due to another party’s negligence. We provide strong client advocacy and no-cost consultations as part of our commitment. Contact us right away for a free, confidential consultation!