Kentucky’s comparative negligence law provides injured people a chance to recover compensation for their damages even if they were partly at fault for the accident that caused their injuries. Comparative negligence often applies in cases involving car accidents.
In this blog post, we will discuss how the law works. But first, we should briefly explain negligence in car accident cases.
Negligence: A brief summary
Negligence is a legal theory under which all of us have a duty of care to avoid the risk of hurting others. When we act carelessly, we breach this duty and commit negligence. If our negligence causes harm to someone else, we can be held liable for the damages they suffered as a result.
A textbook example of a negligence claim might involve a rear-end car accident: Driver A is stopped at a stoplight when Driver B carelessly fails to apply the brakes and crashes into Driver A’s car. Driver A is badly injured.
After adding up their current and future medical expenses, their lost wages and more, Driver A files a lawsuit against Driver B seeking recovery of $100,000 in damages. If the court finds Driver B’s negligence caused the accident, it will order Driver B to compensate Driver A.
In the above example, Driver A did nothing wrong to cause the accident. That isn’t how things work in every accident. For example, let’s say that instead of being stopped at a stoplight, Driver A was traveling above the speed limit when Driver swerved into their lane and crashed into Driver A’s car.
By speeding, Driver A committed an act of negligence. Because they were speeding, the accident was worse than it might have been. Driver B was also negligent because they swerved into another lane.
In this scenario, both Driver A and Driver B acted negligently, and their negligence contributed to the accident. Once again, we’ll say that Driver A sues Driver B seeking compensation for $100,000 in damages.
Under the laws of some states, Driver A would be barred from recovering anything because their negligence contributed to the accident.
Fortunately for Driver A, that’s not how the law works in Kentucky. A Kentucky court would examine the evidence and determine how much each driver was at fault, and then limit Driver A’s compensation proportionally.
For example, the court might find that Driver A was 10% to blame for the accident because they were speeding, and Diver B was 90% at fault because they swerved into the other lane. Therefore, Driver A can hold Driver B liable, but their recovery must be reduced by 10%. The most they can recover is $90,000.
These cases can be complex and sometimes unpredictable, but they can be important for getting injured people compensation after they have suffered an accident.