Can my family members seek damages for my injury?
Family members go through a lot when a loved one suffers a personal injury or dies due to someone else’s bad acts. Kentucky law recognizes this reality. As such, in addition to the damages owed to the injured or deceased family member, Kentucky law also allows certain family members to recover their own personal injury damages through the following causes of action:
1. Wrongful Death claim
2. Loss of Consortium claim
3. Negligent infliction of emotional distress claim
Unfortunately, Kentucky law is limited as to the family members allowed to directly recover under these laws. In most cases, only spouses and children are allowed to recover their own damages for a loved one’s injury or death, but it is always important to talk to a qualified Kentucky personal injury attorney to see if an exception entitles you to your own damages.
WRONGFUL DEATH CLAIMS
KRS 411.130 is the Kentucky statute that allows for family members to recover their own damages upon the wrongful death of a loved one. These damages include the loss of financial support, loss of parental companionship, and reimbursement for future services you would have received if your loved one was still alive. The wrongful death statute clearly sets out that all wrongful death damages are to be divided between the surviving spouse and children only. As such, parents and brothers and sisters of the family member that died are not allowed to recover their own damages under the wrongful death statute.
DO NOT FORGET: even if your loved one died as a result of the personal injuries they sustained, any lawsuit your loved one might have had personally for those injuries can move forward after their death. Your loved one’s Estate must be opened, and the personal representative of the estate can then seek damages for the pain and suffering sustained by your loved one before their death along with any hospital bills, funeral bills, and probate costs. Any money recovered under this scenario goes to the Estate. However, if your loved one did not have any children or a spouse at the time of the wrongful death, brothers or sisters or parents of the deceased family member may be able to inherit the damages owed to your loved one’s estate. That is why it is always important to talk to a qualified Kentucky wrongful death attorney following the death of a loved one due to someone else’s negligence.
LOSS OF CONSORTIUM
KRS 411.145 allows a spouse to bring a cause of action for their own damages following a severe personal injury or death to their husband or wife due to the negligence of another person. The Kentucky loss of consortium statute specifically allows a spouse to recover damages for “the services, assistance, aid, society, companionship and conjugal relationship between spouses. An easier way to say this is you would get to recover for the loss of your relationship with your spouse, including a loss of a sexual relationship, if your spouse is severely injured or killed. So, factors like living arrangements, closeness of the marital relationship, and services your spouse provided for you will be important in determining the amount of damages you are entitled to receive.
If a child’s parent is killed by someone else’s negligence, the child has a loss of parental consortium claim against the at-fault person. Before a child turns 18, they cannot maintain a legal action in their own name, so they must have an adult bring the claim on the child’s behalf as a “next friend” or as guardian of the minor child. Losing a parent is one of the most traumatic events that happen in life, especially as a child.
If the unimaginable happens and a parent loses a child under the age of 18, KRS 411.135 specifically allows the measure of damages in the wrongful death action brought on behalf of the child to include loss of affection and companionship, in addition to the other damages set out in the more general wrongful death statute.
Kentucky law isn’t simple or straight-forward when it comes to losing a loved one as a result of another person’s negligence or bad actions. That’s why it’s extremely important to speak with one of our attorneys who have experience navigating these treacherous legal waters, so that you can focus on what matters most: your family.
NEGLIGENT INFLICTION OF EMOTIONAL DISTRESS
A claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress is an exception where you do not have to be a spouse or child of an injured or deceased loved one to recover damages. A claim for negligent infliction of emotional distress may exist if you witness a loved one being severely injured or killed. However, to recover under this cause of action, you cannot simply claim that you have severe emotional distress. You will need to provide good evidence that your emotional distress is in fact severe. And you will need an expert witness to provide testimony supporting your claim of severe emotional distress.
YOU’RE NOT ALONE – WE’RE HERE TO HELP.
Don’t worry, you don’t have to go through this alone. Our personal injury attorneys and our Client Care Team are here to help make sense of all the legal speak, and to help you on the road to Recover More: More peace of mind, More hope, and More compensation.