Kentucky Personal Injury Laws & Statutory Rules
If you've been injured in an accident in Kentucky, make sure you understand these rules before you start your personal injury case.
After an injury in Kentucky, it's useful to know which state laws might affect your insurance claim or court case. In this article, we'll look at some main points of Kentucky personal injury law.
Deadlines for Filing Injury Lawsuits in Kentucky Courts
Kentucky, like every other state, has a law on the books called a "statute of limitations," which basically sets a deadline for filing a personal injury lawsuit with the state's civil court system. This deadline is one year after the date of the accident in most cases. If you fail to get your lawsuit filed within the one-year window, in most cases you'll be barred from ever bringing it at all, so it's crucial to understand and follow this rule.
For injury claims against a state government agency, you have one year to file a formal claim. See: Injury Claims Against The Government
Kentucky Comparative Fault Rules
When you file an insurance claim or court case, you may find that the person or company you want to hold responsible for your injury turns around and argues that you are partly or totally at fault for your injuries. Kentucky has a "comparative fault" rule for dealing with damages when an injured person is found to share the fault for an accident.
Kentucky's comparative fault rule works like this. Suppose that you are shopping in a mall one day when you slip and fall on a spilled puddle of ice cream. You didn't see the ice cream because you were busy looking at a display. When you file your court case, it's determined that you are 10 percent at fault for the accident and the mall is 90 percent at fault. The jury also decides that your total damages equal $1,000.
In this example, a court would apply the comparative fault rule to reduce your total damages amount by an amount equal to your percentage of the fault. Here, that means your $1,000 is reduced by 10 percent, or $100, leaving you $900. Regardless of the amount of fault assigned to you, Kentucky courts calculate comparative fault in the same way.
Kentucky law requires courts to apply the comparative fault rule when a lawsuit is being heard in court and the injured person shares some of the fault for the accident. The rule also comes up frequently during insurance negotiations, so it's wise to be prepared.
Auto Insurance Laws in Kentucky
Kentucky is a "no-fault" state when it comes to auto insurance. In most auto accidents, Kentucky requires injured people to seek compensation from their own insurance coverage instead of filing a lawsuit in court. In order to file a Kentucky lawsuit, you must have exceeded your personal injury protection (PIP) benefits, and have suffered a "serious injury."
The definition of "serious injury" is a bit vague in Kentucky, but it includes permanent disfigurement and permanent loss of body functions. This vagueness gives you some flexibility to negotiate when talking through an insurance settlement, and arguing that you should be able to step outside of the no-fault system.
For more on this issue, see our article on no-fault car accident cases.
"Strict" Liability for Dog Bite/Attack Cases
In many states, dog owners are protected (to some degree) from injury liability the first time their dog injures someone if they had no reason to believe the dog was dangerous. This is often called a "one bite" rule. In Kentucky however, a specific statute (Ky. Rev. Stat. § 258.235) makes the owner "strictly liable", meaning regardless of the animal's past behavior, the dog owner is responsible for a personal injury caused by his/her dog. Specifically, the statute reads:
“Any owner whose dog is found to have caused damage to a person, livestock, or other property shall be responsible for that damage.”
Damage Caps in Kentucky Injury Cases
Some states set limits on damages in personal injury cases. A few states cap non-economic or "pain and suffering" damages, but not other types of damages. Some states cap damages only in certain types of injury cases, like medical malpractice.
Kentucky has no caps on damages in any type of injury case. Both economic damages and non-economic damages are uncapped.