Personal Injury -- Plaintiff Law
The Bluegrass State takes care of its own. And it shows a pretty good time to visitors as well. But accidents are bound to happen, and some of those accidents result in injuries. Mostly these accidents are no one’s fault; but some are due to the negligence of another person, employer, or corporation based in Kentucky.
Whether you’re a fourth-generation Frankfort resident, a student in Louisville or Lexington, or just at Churchill Downs to play the ponies, you might be wondering if an accident that injured you was someone else’s fault and whether you can hold them accountable. So, here are some common questions about personal injury lawsuits and legal claims in Kentucky, along with some helpful answers.
First, you need to make sure everyone, including yourself, is fine. Even if your injuries don’t seem serious right away, seek medical attention and call for help for anyone else hurt.
You should also begin documenting what happened as best you can. Memories don’t tend to get any better with time, so keep track of anything you can think of. For instance, if you slipped and fell shopping, you might want to get pictures of where you fell as well as any unsafe conditions. If the store or mall made a record of the accident, request a copy. And keep records of your injuries, from medical test results to recommended treatment.
There are all kinds of accidents and injuries. And liability for those injuries will depend on how and where the accident occurred. Most personal injury claims, however, are based on negligence. So, what is that?
As a general matter, we all have a duty to act with reasonable care. If we don’t, and someone gets hurt, we could be on the hook for compensating the injured party. A successful negligence claim is based on four elements:
Negligence claims can look a little different depending on what happened and where it happened. For instance, drivers have a duty to operate motor vehicles with reasonable care. If they fail to do so, for example, by speeding down the interstate or running a red light, they are liable for damages caused by an accident including personal injuries and property damage.
Likewise, property owners, managers, or occupants have a duty to ensure premises are safe for tenants and guests. If they fail to correct or warn about an unsafe condition on the property, such as a set of rotting stairs at your apartment, for example, they can be liable for injuries that occur if they knew or should’ve known of the danger and could’ve done more to correct it. Municipalities can also be held responsible for injuries suffered on public property, but be aware that special filing rules may apply to injury claims against the government.
Additionally, companies and manufacturers have a duty to ensure that injuries are not caused by defective products. This includes defects in design in which there was some design flaw, manufacture where the design was fine but it was made or assembled incorrectly, or warning if the product works like it’s supposed to, but it’s dangerous in a non-obvious way.
Known as “product liability claims,” these lawsuits hold companies strictly liable for their products and the injuries they cause. In these cases, you generally don’t need to prove negligence, only that the company either designed a defective product, manufactured it improperly, or failed to warn you about a known defect, and you were injured as a result.
In some cases, multiple parties can contribute to creating an accident, including the injured person. Kentucky is what’s known as a “pure comparative negligence state,” which means that your own negligence won’t mean you can’t bring a personal injury lawsuit. Instead, judges and juries will take into account each party’s negligence when determining damages.
So, if you had a few beers before falling through those apartment steps, the court could find that you were 25 percent at fault the accident. In which case you might only receive 75 percent of your medical bills.
That will often depend on the type of accident and your injuries. For car accidents, you’ll want to contact your auto insurance or car rental company as soon as possible, after consulting with an attorney first. For workplace accidents, you’ll need to report the incident to your employer and probably complete some state-mandated paperwork. Or, if you slip and fall on some snowy steps, you might need to contact the state and complete what’s called a “notice of claim.”
In any case, you, or your attorney, will hopefully receive some response from the other party, with compensation or an offer to settle any claims. Most claims settle quickly, and out-of-court. If not, you might need to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Even before you request a response to an initial injury claim, or when discussing a proposed settlement, you should consult with an experienced personal injury attorney. If a proposed settlement wouldn’t fully compensate you for your losses, you may want to talk to an experienced personal injury attorney to assess your options. A lawyer familiar with Kentucky personal injury laws can advise you on potential next steps, including whether to file a personal injury lawsuit.
Did the accident cause injuries to multiple people? Is someone claiming you’re the one who caused their injuries? Or is an insurance company offering you legal services? You’ll definitely want to consult with your own legal counsel who will have your best interests in mind.
Like most states, Kentucky splits the kinds of compensation, or damages, to which an injured party is entitled into two categories: economic and non-economic.
Economic damages are designed to pay for expenses incurred by the injury, like medical bills, lost wages, and property damage. Non-economic damages include compensation for things like pain and suffering, emotional distress, or permanent impairment.
While Kentucky bars pain and suffering damages in workers’ compensation claims, the state does not “cap” damages, or place a limit on how much you can recover for pain and suffering.
No one wants a potential personal injury case hanging over their head forever. And judges and juries don’t want to try and sift through decades-old memories and evidence to figure out who wronged whom. So, states have statutes of limitation laws that limit the amount of time you have to file a claim or lawsuit.
In Kentucky, you have just one year in which to file a personal injury, defamation, or medical malpractice lawsuit. But you have two years to bring a claim for property damage.
The proverbial “clock” starts ticking on the date of the accident or injury, although, in some cases, the statute can be tolled or delayed until the discovery of the harm.
When it comes to personal injury attorneys, you may get much more than you pay for. Most lawyers offer free initial consultations to assess your legal claims. And personal injury lawyers often take cases on a contingency fee basis so they only receive a percentage of the final settlement or award. if that number is zero, you may only owe filing fees and/or expenses.
If you’re injured in Kentucky or have more questions about a potential personal injury claim, contact a local personal injury attorney today.