Is Kentucky a no-fault state for auto accidents? Yes, Kentucky is one of only 12 “no-fault” states and one of only three states known as “choice no-fault” states.
We’ll examine what exactly these terms mean below. The most important thing to remember about no-fault laws in auto accidents is that Personal Injury Protection (PIP) auto insurance coverage pays for your own medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses—no matter who is at fault for the auto accident.
We at the Lexington personal injury firm Peterson Law Office specialize in protecting the rights of those injured in motor vehicle crashes in Kentucky. After learning more about the Commonwealth’s auto insurance laws, please reach out to our office if you have questions about a car accident in which you were involved. Our attorneys offer free case evaluations to discuss your legal rights and options.
What Is a “No-Fault” System in Auto Insurance?
Under no-fault auto insurance laws, a vehicle owner’s own insurance policy covers the losses of a car accident, even if the other motorist was responsible for the crash. This means the insurance company provides compensation to its own policyholders after a car accident. The goal of a no-fault insurance structure is to prevent small personal injury claims from going to a court trial. It also works to keep insurance rates to a minimum.
However, it’s important to note that Kentucky’s no-fault auto insurance laws do not altogether prohibit an injured motorist from filing a lawsuit against an at-fault driver. There are conditions that give a person in Kentucky the right to sue another driver for damages in an auto collision. We’ll look at some examples of when a car accident lawsuit may be the most appropriate form of legal action below.
In Kentucky, no-fault coverage provides the policyholder with payments for:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages up to $200 per week
- Replacement services
- Survivor’s benefits in the event of a fatal car accident
These benefits can be used to compensate losses suffered by the covered vehicle’s driver, passengers, and other people injured by the covered vehicle (such as a pedestrian). Policyholders have the option to purchase additional amounts of no-fault coverage beyond the minimum limits established by state law. This offers more comprehensive PIP coverage to those injured in serious crashes.
When Can Kentucky Drivers File Car Accident Personal Injury Lawsuits?
Under the no-fault rules, A Kentucky driver’s right to file a lawsuit (sue) the at-fault party is limited. A personal injury car accident lawsuit may only be filed if certain conditions are met. Kentucky law specifies the conditions required for civil legal action after a car accident. If one of the following factors is involved, the injured motorist may sue the party who caused the accident:
- An accident victim suffered a broken bone or permanent disfigurement
- Medical expenses reached to over $1,000
- There was a permanent injury or death that resulted from the accident
These conditions are considered to have exceeded the no-fault threshold. In such a case, the injured party has a right to file a lawsuit. Compensation awarded in a car accident lawsuit may involve pain and suffering and other damages typically not included in no-fault coverage.
What Does “Choice No-Fault” Mean?
Besides Kentucky, Pennsylvania and New Jersey are the only other states that include a “choice” provision in their no-fault auto insurance laws. This “choice” allows motorists to retain the right to file a lawsuit for any auto-related injury—even if it does not exceed the Kentucky no-fault threshold.
That means that if you reject no-fault coverage, you can still sue the other driver for medical expenses less than $1,000, or for non-permanent injuries other than broken bones or disfigurement. Additional noneconomic damages which aren’t covered by PIP coverage (such as pain and suffering, emotional trauma, or loss of enjoyment of life) may be awarded through a personal injury lawsuit.
Kentucky vehicle owners must submit a form to officially reject no-fault coverage and its limitations on the right to sue. If you choose to reject no-fault coverage, Kentucky law states that the following terms will apply:
- Your rejection of no-fault coverage will follow you in any motor vehicle, whether you or someone else owns the vehicle.
- Once the Kentucky Department of Insurance processes your rejection, it will remain effective unless you submit a form to reverse your decision in writing.
- If an adult submits a rejection form on behalf of a minor, the rejection will be invalid once the minor reaches the age of adulthood.
- After you reject no-fault coverage, you will not be entitled to receive no-fault benefits.
- Other drivers will have the same right to sue you for injuries that do not reach the no-fault thresholds, even if they did not reject no-fault coverage. This also means your auto insurance premium may be higher.
- To claim compensation from the other driver’s insurance company, you will have to prove the other party was at fault before you can recover. Your recovery will be reduced if you are partly at fault for the accident.
This last stipulation refers to Kentucky’s comparative fault car accident laws.
What Are Kentucky’s “Comparative Fault” Laws?
Kentucky adheres to what is known as a pure comparative fault (or comparative negligence) system for auto accidents. This law accepts that more than one party may be partially at fault for a crash.
If you are found to be partially liable, you can still recover compensation. But your amount of compensation will be reduced in accordance with the amount you are determined to be at fault. For example, if you are 20% responsible for the auto accident, you can recover 80% of your compensation award.
Some states with comparative fault laws place a cap on how high your percentage of fault can be before you are rendered ineligible for compensation. These are usually referred to as modified comparative negligence laws. They often prevent parties more than 50% at fault from obtaining compensation.
However, in Kentucky, you can still receive a financial award even if you are 99% at fault, making our state’s comparative fault laws a “pure” system.
Kentucky Auto Insurance Requirements
Motor vehicle insurance is mandatory for all car owners in Kentucky. You are not allowed to operate a vehicle in the state until you have secured an insurance policy. Penalties for failing to obtain insurance in compliance with Kentucky laws include driver’s license revocation, fines of up to $1,000, and up to 90 days in jail.
All owners who have a Kentucky-registered vehicle must carry minimum liability coverage, PIP, and uninsured motorist coverage (unless you specifically reject this option in writing). Kentucky minimum required insurance is:
- Liability Coverage of Bodily Injury $25,000 per person/$50,000 per accident, and Property Damage $25,000 per accident, or $60,000 combined Liability Coverage
- Uninsured Motorist Coverage equal to the minimum Bodily Injury limits (unless rejected in writing)
- Personal Injury Protection (PIP) of $10,000 per person
Get the Help of a Top Lexington Car Accident Attorney Today
No matter how simple your auto accident may seem from the outset, things can get very complicated very quickly. In Kentucky, numerous auto insurance laws, a no-fault system, options for rejecting no-fault coverage, and comparative fault rules make handling any car accident claim a complex endeavor.
As car accident attorneys, we have been through years of training, continuing education, and in-court experience to get to the level of understanding we now possess about car accident cases. We know that most people don’t have the experience to know how to overcome every obstacle that may arise on the path to recovery after an auto collision.
That’s why we work hard to use our knowledge and experience to help you. Contact Peterson Law Office today to have a lawyer on our team review your case at no cost to you. We will thoroughly evaluate the circumstances of your auto accident and advise you of your best options for recovery.
A free consultation at our Lexington office is available for you when you are ready.