Kentucky Personal Injury Laws and Liability Rules

The Kentucky statute of limitations for personal injury lawsuits, the state's "pure comparative negligence" rule, and more.

By , J.D.

After any kind of injury in Kentucky, it's useful to know which state laws might affect any insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit you decide to file. In this article, we'll look at the deadlines for filing an injury lawsuit in Kentucky's court system, the state's "shared fault" rules, and more.

What Is Kentucky's Statute of Limitations for Personal Injury Lawsuits?

Every state has laws on the books called "statutes of limitations," which set deadlines for filing different kinds of lawsuits. Most varieties of personal injury lawsuits are subject to a one-year filing deadline in Kentucky, according to Kentucky Revised Statutes section 413.140(1). That's the time limit that will apply to a lawsuit over a slip and fall, dog bite, and most other incidents in which someone else's negligence causes harm.

Kentucky's Car Accident Lawsuit Statute of Limitations

Kentucky has a separate statute of limitations for lawsuits over injuries arising from car accidents. But the first thing to know here is that, in line with the state's "choice" no-fault car insurance rules, many car accident injury claims will be resolved through "personal injury protection" car insurance coverage, which applies no matter who was at fault for the crash. Under Kentucky's no-fault rules, a lawsuit against the at-fault driver is only possible when car accident injuries meet certain thresholds. Get the details on Kentucky's no-fault car insurance rules (from

If a car accident lawsuit becomes possible, under Kentucky Rev. Stat. 304.39-230, you have two years to get the lawsuit filed, with the two-year "clock" starting on the date of the accident, or the date on which you received your last "personal injury protection" car insurance claim payment, whichever occurs later.

Where Do I File a Personal Injury Lawsuit In Kentucky?

An experienced attorney will handle the ins and outs of filing your personal injury lawsuit. But generally speaking, most Kentucky personal injury lawsuits are filed in one of the two main branches of the state's civil court system:

  • Circuit Court, or
  • District Court.

If your injury-related losses ("damages") look like they'll add up to more $5,000, you'll likely file your lawsuit in one of Kentucky's Circuit Courts. There are 57 Judicial Circuits in the state. The circuit where the person you're suing lives or where the injury occurred is typically the right place to file your case.

If you'll be asking for less than $5,000 from the at-fault party, Kentucky District Court is the likely place to file your injury lawsuit. There are 59 Judicial Districts in Kentucky, and again, you'd choose the district where the person you're suing lives, or where the injury occurred.

You might want to consider Kentucky's small claims courts if your injuries are relatively minor and your damages aren't more than $2,500.

Learn more about how to file a personal injury lawsuit.

What If I'm Partly At Fault for My Injury In Kentucky?

When you file an insurance claim or court case, the person or company you want to hold responsible for your injury may argue that you're partially or totally at fault for your injuries. In the rare event that a personal injury lawsuit makes it all the way to trial in Kentucky, the state follows a "pure comparative negligence" rule when the plaintiff (the injured person) is found to bear some amount of fault for the accident that led to the lawsuit.

Under this rule, the amount of compensation that will be awarded to the plaintiff will be reduced by a percentage equal to their share of fault. (Kentucky Rev. Stat. 411.182.)

How Does Kentucky's Pure Comparative Negligence Rule Work?

Suppose you're in a shopping mall when you slip and fall on melted ice cream that hadn't been cleaned up in over two hours. You didn't see the ice cream because you were looking at your phone. When your case goes to trial, the judge or jury decides that:

  • you're 30 percent at fault for the accident, since you weren't paying enough attention to where you were walking
  • the mall is 70 percent at fault, and
  • your total damages add up to $10,000.

In this example, the court would apply Kentucky's "pure comparative fault" rule to reduce your total damages amount by the percentage of your liability. Here, that means your $10,000 is reduced by 30 percent, or $3,000, so the court would order the mall to pay you $7,000.

Does Kentucky's Pure Comparative Negligence Rule Apply to My Insurance Claim?

Technically, no. Kentucky law requires courts to apply the comparative fault rule when a lawsuit is being heard in court and the injured person shares some fault for the underlying accident. It's not mandated that insurance companies apply the rule to an injury claim. But since insurance adjusters approach claims from the perspective of what might happen in court, any fault the claimant might share will be a point of discussion during injury settlement negotiations.

Dog Owners Face "Strict Liability" for Dog Bite Injuries In Kentucky

Kentucky Rev. Stat. 258.235 says: "Any owner whose dog is found to have caused damage to a person, livestock, or other property shall be responsible for that damage."

This statute makes Kentucky dog owners "strictly liable" for harm done by their animals. This means, regardless of the animal's past behavior, or any efforts by the owner to prevent the injury, the owner is legally responsible for injuries and all resulting losses if their dog bites or injures someone. Learn more about Kentucky dog bite laws.

Are There Caps on Personal Injury Damages In Kentucky?

Some states have laws that set a limit (or "cap") on the amount of compensation an injured person can receive even if their lawsuit is successful in court. These caps often apply to certain kinds of compensation (damages) in specific kinds of cases. For example, a number of states limit how much an injured patient can receive in a medical malpractice lawsuit when it comes to compensation for mental and physical "pain and suffering" and other "non-economic" damages.

Kentucky has no generally applicable cap on damages in injury cases (including medical malpractice lawsuits). The only cap that might come into play relates to injury claims involving the negligence of the state government or one of its employees.

Caps on Damages In Injury Claims Against the Government In Kentucky

If you think the negligence of the commonwealth of Kentucky (or one of its employees) caused you injury, you'll need to follow a very specific set of rules in presenting your case to the state's Board of Claims and Appeals. And even if your claim is successful, damages in these kinds of cases are capped at:

  • $250,000 for a single claim, or
  • $400,000 for all claims stemming from a single act of negligence (divided equally among all claimants).

Get More Information and Assistance After an Injury In Kentucky

This article offers an objective summary of state laws that could affect your Kentucky personal injury case. For information tailored to your situation, and a full understanding of your options, it might make sense to speak with an attorney. Get tips on finding the right injury attorney for you and your case.

If you're looking for more details on how personal injury claims work and what to expect from the process, check out these articles:

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