Kentucky car accident laws tends to be lax compared to other states when it comes to minor crashes. Even so, accidents involving life-changing injury or death happen everyday in the Bluegrass State. In 2021, there were 734 fatal crashes in Kentucky, and drivers reported about 160,000 automobile accidents overall.
Even though the state follows no-fault rules, it’s helpful to understand Kentucky car accident laws in case your claim goes to trial. Read on to learn how to report your accident, how Kentucky handles car insurance, and who pays for what damages.
How to Report a Car Accident in Kentucky
Car accidents in Kentucky must be reported according to Ky. Rev. Stat. § 189.635 if:
- The incident resulted in an injury or death to any person involved, or
- If property damage exceeds $500
If you are in a collision on the road, call the police or 911. Or, file a Civilian Collision Report (CCR) with the Kentucky State Police within 10 days of the incident occurring. If you call law enforcement to the scene, they will file the report for you and no CCR is needed.
Calling the police will also allow you access to a police report, which serves as evidence if your case goes to trial. You need as much evidence as possible if you believe your accident goes above Kentucky’s no-fault requirements.
What to Do During a Car Crash in Kentucky
During a crash, you want to follow these steps to exchange all info while abiding by Kentucky car accident laws, particularly Ky. Rev. Stat. § 189.580. If you’re unclear about how to handle a car accident, feel free to talk to an auto attorney about your case.
- Remain at the Scene: Give a proper statement about the accident to the officers so it can be included in their report. Provide assistance to others if needed and move your vehicle out of traffic. Fleeing the scene may be considered a hit-and-run in Kentucky.
- Accept Medical Attention: You might think you didn’t suffer an injury at the time, but severe pain could present itself over time. Common accident injuries like whiplash and muscle sprains may present themselves days or weeks after the crash.
- Take Pictures of the Scene: Take pictures of:
- Vehicles involved
- Accident debris
- Your injuries
- The road and weather conditions
- Traffic signs and any other relevant details
The reason for these pictures is to prove your liability, strengthening your case.
- Exchange Information: This information includes insurance policies, contact information, address, anything info you need to reach out to them in the future. You should do the same with any witnesses with whom you speak after the crash.
- Contact Your Insurance and an Attorney: Because car insurance is mandatory according to Kentucky car accident laws, you’re required to notify your insurance company after a crash. Tell them about the details of the crash, and contact an auto attorney if the crash involves severe damages.
Is Kentucky a No-Fault State?
Yes, Kentucky is a no-fault state. Injured drivers cannot sue an at-fault driver to recover compensation according to Ky. Rev. Stat. § 304.39-060 unless they exceed their PIP coverage and:
- Incur significant medical expenses above $1,000
- Suffer broken bones
- Involve permanent disfigurement
- Suffer permanent injury or death
Instead, anyone involved in an accident turns to their personal insurance carrier for coverage, regardless of who caused the accident. This is different from fault-based states like California and Indiana. There, a victim would file a claim against the at-fault driver’s insurance carrier for damages.
IMPORTANT: If your insurance company offers you a settlement shortly after the accident that cannot cover your damages, it’s wise to consult with an attorney. You can negotiate further with the help of an attorney to raise your settlement amount.
Kentucky Comparative Negligence Laws
Though filing a car accident case in Kentucky is somewhat rare thanks to its no-fault system, in situations where fault is determined, Kentucky operates under a pure comparative negligence rule.
Ky. Rev. Stat. § 411.182 allows for drivers who are at-fault to collect damages. Even if you were assigned 80% fault for an accident, you can still file a lawsuit to recover compensation for 20% of the total damages.
However, the amount of damages you can recover in a car-accident-related lawsuit is reduced by the same percentage as your level of fault in causing the crash.
Kentucky Car Insurance Laws
All drivers in Kentucky must carry the required insurance policies of at least:
- $10,000 in personal injury protection (PIP) coverage
- $25,000 bodily injury per person per accident
- $50,000 bodily injury for all persons per accident
- $10,000 property damage liability
How PIP Coverage Works in Kentucky
In Kentucky, personal injury protection is your primary insurance. This means it pays for your medical expenses and lost wages up to your policy limit first. It kicks in and pays before you can seek compensation from anyone else for losses or damages.
Though the minimum amount of PIP coverage in Kentucky is $10,000, you may choose to purchase policies with a higher limit.
IMPORTANT: You can opt to not carry PIP. Drivers who opt-out of the no-fault system through the Department of Insurance in Kentucky can take legal action for damages against the party at-fault for their accident. The trade-off is you may win no settlement at all. Or, it may take quite a long time to receive a settlement.
If you want to opt-out of the no-fault system, you can do so by filling out a no-fault rejection form and sending it to the Department of Insurance.
Additional Insurance Coverage Options
Collision or comprehensive coverage is optional and can pay for repairs or replacement of your vehicle after a car accident. You can also carry additional PIP above the minimum, as mentioned above.
Uninsured or underinsured motorist protection is designed to cover the cost of damages if the other driver does not have car insurance, or does not have enough.
Types of Damages Available in Kentucky Car Accident Law
If your losses were so severe that PIP isn’t enough, you can sue the at-fault driver for damages according to Kentucky car accident law. These damages range in severity, but there is no limit to how much compensation you can sue for in the state of Kentucky.
- Economic damages are the measurable losses you have suffered as a result of your injuries or damage to property, such as medical expenses, rehab, vehicle repair costs, and lost wages.
- Non-economic damages refer to the non-measurable costs of an accident, including pain and suffering, mental anguish, disability, and loss of consortium.
- Punitive damages are designed to punish an at-fault party for actions that show “oppression, fraud, or malice.” In other words, the defendant’s actions were outrageous.
Because there’s no limit to compensation from damages, a competent Kentucky auto accident attorney is crucial to defending your case. Through enough evidence and negotiation, you and your attorney can receive the settlement fitting for your losses.
Kentucky Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents
In most states the statute of limitations for a general personal injury lawsuit applies to car accident injury claims. However, Kentucky has a distinct statute of limitations for car accident injury lawsuits, stated by Ky. Rev. Stat. § 304.39-230. You only have two years from the day the accident occurs to file your case in a court of law in Kentucky.
Tolling the Statute of Limitations
The two-year “clock” starts to run:
- On the date of the accident, or
- When you received your last “personal injury protection” car insurance claim payment, whichever occurs later.
LegalASAP Can Help Connect You with an Auto Accident Attorney
Car accidents can be very complicated to handle in the state of Kentucky if you don’t meet with an expert advocate. Insurance companies are not on your side and may offer a lower settlement than you need to be whole again.
Not only will an attorney clear up the complex legal process for you, but you may receive a higher settlement than if you agreed to the insurance company’s first offer.
Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women: A Modern Retelling. She is also an active co-author or ghostwriter of several nonfiction books on personal and business development. Laura currently lives in Windermere, Florida with her husband and daughter and works with clients all over the world. Visit her online at lauraschaeferwriter.com and linkedin.com.