What Is the Kentucky Wrongful Death Statute of Limitations?

wrongful death statute of limitations kentuckyIf you feel as if you lost a loved one wrongfully, you may be able to file a lawsuit for wrongful death.

Kentucky law defines wrongful death as “the death of a person results from an injury inflicted by the negligence or wrongful act of another, damages may be recovered for the death from the person who caused it, or whose agent or servant caused it.”

Wrongful death law in Kentucky is unique from most other states. It is important to not only know the Kentucky wrongful death statute of limitations, but also:

  • Who can file a wrongful death lawsuit, and
  • What can be recovered.

What Makes Kentucky Wrongful Death Law Unique?

It is important to note that in Kentucky, the measure of damages is a purely economic calculation of the destruction of earning power. This is not true in all other states.

Who Can File a Wrongful Death Lawsuit in Kentucky?

Only a personal representative appointed by the estate can file the lawsuit, and not the survivors (1). In fact, the relationship with the survivors is not a factor taken into account in determining the value of the claim at all.

So How Does the Family Receive Compensation?

The uniqueness of Kentucky’s exclusively economic calculation of wrongful death damages has eroded away in the past 20 years due to two Kentucky Supreme Court decisions (2).

The decisions created a loss of consortium claim for both the surviving children and the spouse. In the case of wrongful death, loss of consortium is a claim for damages specifically for surviving family members.

Loss of consortium claims may be filed independently of the wrongful death claim.

What Can I Recover From the Wrongful Death Lawsuit and Loss of Consortium?

There are several ways to recover losses for wrongful death cases in Kentucky.

  1. Punitive damages for willful acts or gross negligence by the responsible party.
  2. Loss of disability benefits. The destruction of earning power does include disability benefits (3).
  3. Compensation for professional malpractice. If your attorney poorly represented your claim, you may be able to make a case for professional malpractice (4).
  4. Compensation for injuries the deceased suffered prior to death.

However, for purposes of insurance coverage, it is important to note that firstly, a claim for loss of spousal and parental consortium is payable under the same “per person” limits of coverage (5). This limit is the same that applies to the wrongful death claim itself.

What Is the Statute of Limitations for a Wrongful Death Claim in Kentucky?

The statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim in Kentucky arising from a motor vehicle accident is two years from the date of death.

Additionally, the statute of limitations for the loss of consortium claims by the surviving spouse or minor children is only one year from the date of death. In the case of surviving minor children, the statute is one year from reaching 18.


There is also a law that might suggest that the estate must appoint a personal representative within that time period, after which the suit must be filed within one year from the date of the appointment of the personal representative (7). However, no Kentucky decision has actually applied KRS 413.180 to an action under the Kentucky Motor Vehicle Reparations Act (8).

In the end, it is safe to assume that statute of limitations for a wrongful death claim is two years.

Do You Want to File a Wrongful Death Claim?

If your loved one has passed away in a wrongful death accident, call our personal injury law offices today.

Contact us today to schedule your free consultation–we are here to help.


  1. KRS 411.130; Empire Metal Corp. v. Wohlwender, 445 S.W.2d 685 [1969]
  2. Guiliani v. Guiler, 951 S.W.2d.318 (Ky. 1997); Martin v. Ohio County Hospital Corp., 295 S.W.3d 104 (Ky. 2009)
  3. Meinhart v. Campbell, U.S. District Court, W.D. Ky. Civil Action No. 3:07-CV-465-H (December 1, 2009)
  4. Pete v. Anderson, 413 S.W.3d 291 (Ky. 2013)
  5. Moore v. State Farm, 740 S.W.2d 225 (Ky. 1986); Daley v. Reed, 87 S.W.3d 247 (Ky. 2002)
  6. KRS 304.39-230(6)
  7. KRS 413.180; Conner v. Whitesides, 834 S.W.2d 652 (Ky. 1992)
  8. Floyd v. Gray, 657 S.W.2d 936 (Ky. 1983); Southeastern Kentucky Baptist Hospital, Inc. v. Gaylor, 756 S.W.2d 467 (Ky. 1988); Potter v. Boland, Case No. 2011-CA-001336-MR (Ky. App. December 7, 2012) (unpublished)