Kentucky Personal Injury Laws & Statutory Rules

The Kentucky statute of limitations for injury lawsuits and other state laws that could affect your case.

Updated by , J.D.

After any kind of injury in Kentucky, it's useful to know which state laws might affect any insurance claim or civil lawsuit you decide to file. In this article, we'll look at:

  • deadlines for filing an injury lawsuit in Kentucky court
  • the state's "shared fault" rules
  • Kentucky's "choice no-fault" car insurance system, and
  • dog owner liability for bites and other injuries.

Deadlines for Filing Injury Lawsuits in Kentucky Courts

Kentucky, like every other state, has laws on the books called "statutes of limitations," which set deadlines for filing different kinds of lawsuits in the state's civil court system. Most 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 mishaps.

But note that Kentucky has a separate statute of limitations for injuries arising from car accidents. 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 no-fault, a lawsuit against the at-fault driver is only possible when car accident injuries meet a certain threshold. If a car accident lawsuit becomes possible, under Kentucky Revised Statutes section 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.

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 partially or totally at fault for your injuries. Kentucky has a "comparative fault" rule for adjusting damages when an injured person is found to share the fault for an accident.

Kentucky's comparative fault rule works like this. Suppose you're shopping in a mall one day when you slip and fall on a puddle of melted 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 injury settlement negotiations, so it's wise to be prepared.

Auto Insurance Laws in Kentucky

Kentucky is a "choice no-fault" state when it comes to car insurance. After most auto accidents, Kentucky requires injured persons to seek compensation from their own insurance coverage instead of filing a lawsuit in court, unless they "opt out" of no-fault.

In order to step outside of the no-fault system and file a lawsuit against the at-fault driver in Kentucky:

  • the accident must have resulted in at least $1,000 in medical bills, or
  • the accident must have caused permanent disfigurement, fracture of a weight-bearing bone; compound, compressed, or displaced fracture of any bone; any permanent injury, or any permanent loss of a body function.

Learn more about no-fault car insurance and how these claims work.

"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."

If you're thinking about taking legal action after any kind of accident or injury in Kentucky, it might make sense to discuss your situation with an attorney. Get tips on finding the right injury attorney for you and your case.

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