What Is the Time Limit for Filing an Injury Lawsuit in Kentucky?
When you experience a loss due to another’s negligence or recklessness, you are entitled to take legal action against the party or parties liable for those losses. This could be an at-fault driver who caused a serious car accident, a surgeon who committed medical malpractice, or the manufacturer of a defective product that caused you injury.
A “statute of limitations” is the period in which you have in which to file a lawsuit. Statutes of limitations, also called SOLs, differ from state to state, between civil and criminal cases, and from claim to claim. If you are considering taking legal action against a person or party who caused you harm, it is crucial to understand how statutes of limitations here in Kentucky work. Missing an SOL can result in missing your chance to secure compensation for your injuries completely, so ensure you know the proper deadlines – and talk to a Kentucky personal injury lawyer at Wilt & Associates for assistance.
Personal injury SOL in Kentucky
For personal injury actions in Kentucky, the statute of limitations is generally only one year from the date of the accident or injury, or from the date the injury was discovered. This is a relatively short SOL compared to other states in the country. With a limit of one year, it is strongly recommended to consult with an attorney as soon as possible after an accident that was not your fault.
However, there are certain instances where this statute of limitations will be paused. For example, if the injured person is under the age of 18 when the incident occurred, the clock is stopped until they reach the age of 18, and then the one-year period begins. Or, if the injury victim is medically and legally incapacitated, the SOL will be paused until they are once again physically and mentally able to make sound decisions. In cases of permanent incapacitation, an attorney can help file a lawsuit on behalf of the person’s estate and family.
A statute of limitations may also be extended if the alleged negligent party leaves Kentucky after the incident or accident, but before the lawsuit is filed. In cases like these, the SOL can be paused until the defendant is located.
Motor vehicle accident SOL in Kentucky
Although the statute of limitations for personal injury actions is one year, the SOL for car accidents and truck accidents is a little longer, at two years. Per the statute:
If no basic or added reparation benefits have been paid for loss arising otherwise than from death, an action therefor may be commenced not later than two (2) years after the injured person suffers the loss and either knows, or in the exercise of reasonable diligence should know, that the loss was caused by the accident, or not later than four (4) years after the accident, whichever is earlier. If basic or added reparation benefits have been paid for loss arising otherwise than from death, an action for further benefits, other than survivor’s benefits, by either the same or another claimant, may be commenced not later than two (2) years after the last payment of benefits.
What this means if that if you suffered injury in a motor vehicle accident, you have up to two years to take legal action against the negligent party. In the event you did not discover your injuries were caused by the accident until after the SOL expires, you have up to four years from the date of the accident to file your lawsuit.
Medical malpractice SOL in Kentucky
The statute of limitations for medical negligence, like personal injury claims, is one year. This includes actions against physicians, surgeons, dentists, hospitals, and the like. However, there can be many exceptions, exclusions, and extensions to this deadline, and it is important to have an experienced medical malpractice attorney on your side to advise you on the best way to proceed. Some considerations regarding Kentucky’s medical malpractice statute of limitations include:
- The “discovery rule,” which means that the SOL will not begin to run until a patient discovers their injury. The discovery exception applies when the injury caused by the alleged malpractice was not immediately noticeable or discoverable by a reasonable professional.
- The age of majority, meaning the SOL does not begin running until the injured patient is an adult. A minor has up until their 19th birthday to file a medical malpractice lawsuit, no matter how much time has passed since the injury.
- Disability or incapacitation, which tolls the SOL until a patient is found legally capable to once again make decisions. This might happen in cases where malpractice causes a traumatic brain injury or coma. In cases where a person in permanently incapacitated, your attorney can provide guidance on filing a claim on behalf of your loved one.
- The “continuous treatment doctrine,” which delays the one-year SOL if treatment is ongoing with the provider with whom the malpractice claim is against. This means the SOL may be extended until the patient terminates their relationship with the provider. However, this doctrine can be tricky, so it is best to consult with your attorney as soon as possible.
- When it results in wrongful death, which we will discuss next.
Wrongful death SOL in Kentucky
Wrongful death is when a person dies due to the wrongful or negligent act of another. A wrongful death claim is a civil one, not a criminal one. Generally, two statutes of limitation apply to a wrongful death action.
- The personal representative of the estate has one year from the person’s death or the day they are appointed to file an action.
- If the personal representative of the estate is appointed more than one year after the death, they have two years from the date of death to file an action.
What happens if I miss the Kentucky statute of limitations?
As you can see, statutes of limitation can be confusing and can greatly differ depending on the type of claim, age of the plaintiff, and circumstances of the injury. If you leave it up to chance and miss the deadline to file a lawsuit, it may be nearly impossible to secure the compensation to which you are entitled, as the court will decline to hear your case.
This is why it is always advisable to consult with an attorney as soon as possible following an accident or serious injury. The personal injury lawyers at Wilt & Associates, PLLC want to help. Our expert knowledge of the Kentucky legal system can help you move through the compensation process with confidence. To schedule a consultation, call our offices, or reach out through our contact form. We serve people in Louisville and Lexington, and throughout the state.