Car Accident Laws in Kentucky

Kentucky is a "choice no-fault" state when it comes to car insurance. We'll explain what that means in this article, and we'll also take a look at a few state laws that could affect a personal injury lawsuit over a car accident in Kentucky.

Kentucky is a "choice no-fault" state when it comes to car insurance. We'll explain what that means in this article, and we'll also take a look at a few state laws that could affect a personal injury lawsuit over a car accident in Kentucky.  Read on for the details.

Kentucky is a "Choice No-Fault" Car Insurance State

If you've been in a car accident and have purchased car insurance in Kentucky, the first thing to understand is that Kentucky is a "choice no-fault" state. Under a no-fault car insurance system, if you're in a car accident, you turn first (and sometimes exclusively) to your own car insurance coverage, no matter who was at fault for the accident. You can't usually file a liability claim or personal injury lawsuit against the other driver unless your claim meets a certain threshold in terms of medical expenses or the seriousness of the injuries stemming from the crash.

But drivers in Kentucky have the choice of "opting out" of the no-fault system and purchashing traditional tort-based coverage. Even drivers who opt to remain in no-fault can still file a liability claim if their situation qualifies. Get the details here: Kentucky Car Insurance Rules.

Time Limits for Bringing a Lawsuit in Kentucky

If you've chosen to opt out of no-fault (or your claim is exempt under the threshold requirements), you might want to learn more about filing a personal injury lawsuit in Kentucky, starting with the statutory time limits for doing so.  

Kentucky, like every state, has enacted laws that limit the time in which you may file a lawsuit. These laws are called “statutes of limitations,” and the time limit will usually differ depending on the kind of case you’re bringing. Kentucky has some of the shortest statutes of limitations of any state. The relevant deadlines for car accident suits are:

  • one year  after the car accident, for filing a  personal injury  lawsuit (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 413.080(1))
  • two years  after the accident, for filing a lawsuit for  property damage  (i.e. damage to a vehicle) (Ky. Rev. Stat. Ann. § 413.125)

Comparative Fault Rules in Kentucky

Different states follow different rules for how to handle comparative fault -- situations in which each party in some way was at fault for an accident. In Kentucky, after a car accident you can recover compensation from any other at-fault party, regardless of the degree of your own fault. BUT any compensation you recover will be reduced by your percentage of fault. In legalese, this means Kentucky is a “pure comparative negligence” state.

It is important to understand how Kentucky’s system of comparative fault works even if you are only trying to negotiate with an insurance company.   Not only do the comparative fault rules bind Kentucky judges and juries in a formal lawsuit (if you get to that stage of a dispute), but any insurance claim adjuster will consider those rules as well when evaluating your case. When evaluating a claim, an insurance adjuster usually thinks in terms of what could happen should the case go to court.  Keep in mind that there is no empirical way to apportion fault, so any determination will ultimately depend on your ability to negotiate with a claim adjuster or convince a judge or jury of your side of the story.

Let’s take a look at an example to see how Kentucky’s “pure comparative negligence” rule would be applied in real life.  Say you’re in a car accident where an oncoming driver makes a left turn directly in front of you while you are driving a few miles over the speed limit, resulting in a collision.   After negotiating with an insurance adjuster, it is determined that you are 20% at fault and the other driver is 80% at fault.  For the ease of math, we’ll say that your total damages are $10,000. Under Kentucky’s comparative fault rules, you are entitled to $8,000 from the other driver ($10,000 in damages minus the 20% of your own liability).

Car Insurance Requirements in Kentucky

Besides the state's "choice no-fault" rules we covered in the first section above, other Kentucky laws on car insurance may also come into play after a car accident. For everything you need to know about car insurance in Kentucky -- including the minimum amounts of coverage required for registered vehicles in operation in the state -- check out our companion article Car Insurance Laws in Kentucky.

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