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More than 134,000 accidents were recorded in Kentucky in 2018, and over 700 people die on Kentucky roads every year. What happens in the event of a car accident?
Kentucky is known as a “choice no-fault” state, meaning vehicle owners can opt-out of the state’s no-fault insurance system and elect to sue (and be sued) after a car accident.
Filing an Accident Report
Under Kentucky state law, you are required to file an accident report with the Kentucky State Police within 10 days if the damage was over $500, even if no one was injured. In most cases, it’s a good idea to call the police to the scene.
Kentucky’s “No-Fault” System
In most states, after a car accident, you file a third-party injury or property damage claim with the at-fault driver’s auto insurance carrier. Under this system, you can collect damages up to the limit of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy. (If any unpaid damages remain, you might have to pursue reimbursement from the at-fault driver’s personal finances.)
Kentucky is one of a dozen states which have some type of no-fault car insurance. This means that drivers look to their own insurance companies to cover their and their passengers’ injuries and losses, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Except for the opt-out alternative discussed below, Kentucky’s no-fault law requires all motor vehicles, except motorcycles, to carry personal injury protection (“PIP”) coverage. Under this coverage, up to $10,000 is provided per person for lost wages, medical expenses, and other costs incurred.
The no-fault rules do not apply where an injured party:
- Incurs significant medical expenses;
- Breaks a bone;
- Suffers permanent disfigurement;
- Suffers permanent injury; or
When purchasing car insurance in Kentucky, you may opt out of the no-fault system. While this allows you to sue an at-fault driver for personal injury or other liability, it also opens you up to lawsuits if the accident was caused by you.
Opt-outs must be filed in writing with the state’s Department of Insurance on this form.
Kentucky’s Minimum Auto Insurance Standards
In addition to PIP, Kentucky drivers are required by law to carry the following minimum amounts of auto insurance:
- $25,000 per person of personal injury liability insurance;
- $50,000 per accident of personal injury liability insurance; and
- $25,000 per accident of property damage liability insurance.
Alternatively, a policy with single limits of $60,000 is allowable.
When the Accident is Partly Your Fault: Kentucky’s Pure Comparative Negligence System
If you are injured in a Kentucky car accident, it is likely that either your insurance company or the at-fault driver’s insurance company (whomever you file your claim against) is going to assert that the accident was at least partly your fault.
Under Kentucky’s no-fault system, you will lose that percentage of your damages that are attributable to your own fault. If your damages were $100,000, for example, and the accident was 10 percent your fault, your damages will be reduced by $10,000 and your maximum recovery will be $90,000. A skilled Kentucky auto accident attorney can help you defend claims like these with credible evidence.
What if the at-fault driver was uninsured, or if your claim is so large that their insurance cannot cover it? This is when a skilled Kentucky personal injury lawyer is important. A lawyer can help you identify other defendants with deeper pockets than the at-fault driver, such as:
- The at-fault driver’s employer, if the driver was acting within the scope of employment at the time the accident happened. A product manufacturer, if your accident was caused by a defective automotive component such a malfunctioning airbag, or a defective traffic light.
- The city or state government, if they failed to properly maintain roads or traffic signals.
- A bar or nightclub under Kentucky’s Dram Shop Act. This law applies, where a driver was negligently served alcohol and it is determined that alcohol was a factor in the accident.
- A truck maintenance company, if they indirectly caused your accident by negligent truck maintenance.
The Kentucky Wrongful Death Statute
What if someone dies in a vehicle accident? Under the Kentucky Wrongful Death Statute, the deceased victim’s estate can file a wrongful death lawsuit, either against the offending driver or alternative defendants. If the victim was a child, the child’s parents can join the lawsuit. Damages go to the probate estate and surviving family members.
You might win money damages for the following losses:
- Medical expenses;
- Lost earnings;
- Incidental expenses (child care, for example); and
- Pain and suffering (up to five times the amount of medical expenses in some cases). You could also obtain additional damages in a wrongful death case.
Statutes of Limitations
The following statutes of limitations apply:
- For personal injury, the deadline for filing a lawsuit is two years from the date of the accident, or two years from the date that your insurance company last paid a no-fault medical payment or PIP insurance payment on your claim, whichever is later.
- For wrongful death, the deadline is one year from the date the court appointed the deceased victim’s personal representative, or two years from the deceased victim’s date of death (if no personal representative has been appointed within one year of the date of death), whichever is later.
When to Get a Lawyer
Have you recently had a vehicle accident? Automobile insurance and how it applies in Kentucky is not always straightforward. Contact us today to set up a free consultation. You won’t pay us anything unless we win your case.