Every personal injury case is different. However, there are some frequently asked questions that come up. Here’s a good place to start if you are wondering if you have a personal injury case.
It may seem strange, but legally speaking an “ personal injury” doesn’t always require you to be physically hurt. In Kentucky, a personal injury can damage your body, property, reputation or mental health. A personal injury lawsuit can be filed any time an injury is caused by another person or business’s negligence or carelessness. It can include auto accidents and slip and fall cases. It is also broad enough to apply to unsafe products and workplace injuries.
Generally, an auto accident case is filed against the driver whose negligence caused the accident. If more than one person contributed to the crash or it isn’t clear what happened, your personal injury attorney may sue anyone that appeared to be involved. If you have purchased Underinsured Motorist insurance, you may also be able to collect damages from your insurance company. This will depend on the language in your insurance policy, what happened in the crash, and whether the at-fault driver has the money to pay for your injuries.
How much you can recover in a personal injury lawsuit depends on what kinds of injuries you suffered. Generally, Kentucky law tries to restore injured plaintiffs to the condition they were in before the accident. Depending on what happened, and your recovery process, this could mean you are entitled to compensation for:
In Kentucky, most personal injury lawsuits must be filed within one year of the injury. However, in auto accident cases, you have 2 years after the accident or the end of PIP benefits to file your claim. In some cases the “discovery rule” will allow you to file later if you only learned about the injury after the fact.
If you are hurt in an accident with a government vehicle (like a police car or mail truck), or because a local government office neglected its duty to maintain roads, sidewalks, or other property, you may be able to sue the government for negligence. However, personal injury lawsuits against government bodies can be hard to win. “Sovereign immunity” protects government entities and employees from many lawsuits. You and your personal injury attorney will need to follow special rules to get past the immunity and recover for your injuries.
Personal injury lawsuits are normally filed by, or on behalf of, the person injured. A wrongful death lawsuit is filed by the personal representative of the deceased person’s estate. Usually that representative is named in the deceased person’s will, or appointed by a probate judge after their death. The personal representative represents all the beneficiaries to the estate, including the deceased person’s dependents. However, spouses and dependents may also have their own claims for damages as part of the wrongful death lawsuit.
Kentucky uses the law of comparative negligence in personal injury cases. This means you can sue for personal injuries even if you are partially at fault for what happened. At trial, each person is assigned a share of the fault for the injury. Then the total damages the injured party suffered are divided up between the contributing parties. For example, if you suffered $100,000 in damages in a 2-car auto accident and you were 25% responsible for the crash, the other driver would likely have to pay 75% of $100,000, or $75,000.
Nothing replaces an honest assessment of your accident by an experienced personal injury attorney. If you don’t see the answer to your question, or if you think you have a personal injury case, you should discuss it with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible to protect your claim. Contact Noel Caldwell, Attorney at Law, PLLC, to get an honest assessment of your personal injury case today.