In order to bring a successful negligence claim in Kentucky, the plaintiff must prove that a duty existed on the part of the defendant, the defendant breached that duty, the defendant’s breach of duty caused injury, and damages exist as a result of the injury.
Pure Comparative Negligence
In Hilen v. Hays, 673 S.W.2d 713 (Ky.1984), Kentucky adopted the pure comparative negligence standard. The Court held that contributory negligence would no longer bar recovery. Instead, a plaintiff’s negligence would reduce the damages against a negligent defendant in proportion to the percentage of negligence attributed to the plaintiff in causing their injury.
Under pure comparative negligence, a plaintiff may recover monetary damages even if they are found to be partially responsible for their injury.
For example, if a plaintiff claims $100,000 in damages and the jury finds the plaintiff to be 75% at fault and the defendant 25% at fault, the plaintiff would be entitled to recover $25,000 or 25% of the total damages claim regardless of the fact that the plaintiff was found to be more than 50% at fault for his or her own injury.
Joint & Several Liability
Per Kentucky Revised Statute 411.182, Kentucky is a several liability-only state. This means that a court apportions percentages of liability to each tortfeasor and each tortfeasor is only responsible for their share of fault.
In determining the proper allocation of fault, the court must consider both the nature of the conduct for each at-fault party as well as the extent of the causal relationship between the conduct and the injury suffered.
No right of contribution exists between joint tortfeasors.
Compensatory damages are awarded to compensate the plaintiff for injuries suffered as a result of the negligence of the defendant(s). The award is meant to restore the plaintiff – as much as possible – to the condition they were in prior to the injury occurring.
Compensatory damages include reasonable expenses necessary for past, present and future medical care; hospitalization and treatment; economic loss from loss of income and loss of earning capacity; pain and suffering; disability; disfigurement; emotional distress, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment of life.
Kentucky does not limit the amount of damages that may be awarded in a personal injury action.
Punitive damages are meant to punish a defendant rather than to compensate the plaintiff and thereby deter similar conduct by others in the future.
Per Kentucky Revised Statute 411.184, a plaintiff shall recovery punitive damages only in situations where it is proven by clear and convincing evidence that the defendant acted with oppression, fraud or malice.
“Oppression” refers to conduct which is specifically intended by the defendant to subject the plaintiff to cruel and unjust hardship.
“Fraud” refers to an intentional misrepresentation, deceit, or concealment of material fact known to the defendant and made with the intention of causing injury to the plaintiff.
“Malice” refers to either conduct which is specifically intended by the defendant to cause tangible or intangible injury to the plaintiff or conduct that is carried out by the defendant both with a flagrant indifference to the rights of the plaintiff and with a subjective awareness that such conduct will result in human death or bodily harm.
The law firm of Walker Morgan is located at 135 E Main St., Lexington, SC 29072. All lawyers at Walker Morgan are licensed to practice law in the State of South Carolina. Should you wish to retain our firm for legal representation regarding a potential case in any other jurisdiction we are required to associate local counsel in that foreign jurisdiction and seek permission from a court of the foreign jurisdiction to temporarily engage in the practice of law therein for purposes of pursuing your potential claim only.
By offering the following information the lawyers at Walker Morgan are not offering legal advice or legal guidance. The lawyers at Walker Morgan are not licensed to practice law in Kentucky. Should you have a question/concern specific to Kentucky law, please contact an attorney licensed to practice law in the State of Kentucky.