Kentucky Car Accident and Personal Injury Laws



If you've been injured in a car accident in the State of Kentucky, you may have questions about how the laws will affect your property damage and/or personal injury claim. In this article, we'll review the laws most commonly associated with car accidents. To read the entirety of each law, click the link to the specific State of Kentucky statutes in each section.

Here are the Kentucky car accident and traffic laws we'll cover:

Pedestrian Laws

Pedestrians and Crosswalks

The driver of a vehicle must stop and yield the right of way to a pedestrian crossing the roadway within a crosswalk when the pedestrian has reached the halfway point of the crosswalk, or when the pedestrian is approaching so closely from the opposite half of the crosswalk as to be in danger.
Section 189.570

Restrictions on Pedestrians Crossing Roadways

No pedestrian must suddenly leave a curb or other place of safety and walk or run into the path of a vehicle which is so close as to constitute an immediate hazard.
Section 189.570

Crossing at Other Than Crosswalks

Pedestrians intending to cross a roadway at any point other than within a marked crosswalk or within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection shall yield the right-of-way to all vehicles on the roadway.

Pedestrians must use only the marked crosswalk to cross between two adjacent intersections that have traffic-control signals in operation.
Section 189.570

Pedestrians on Roadway

Where sidewalks are provided, it is unlawful for any pedestrian to walk along and upon adjacent roadway.

Where sidewalks are not provided, pedestrians are permitted to walk only on or along the left side of the roadway or on it's shoulder facing traffic from the opposite direction.
Section 189.570

Pedestrians' Right of Way on Sidewalks

The driver of a vehicle must yield the right of way to any pedestrian on a sidewalk.
Section 189.570

Drivers to Exercise Due Care

The driver of a vehicle shall exercise due care to avoid colliding with any pedestrian upon any roadway and shall give warning by sounding the driver's horn when necessary and shall exercise proper precaution upon observing any child or an obviously confused or incapacitated person upon a roadway.
Section 189.570

Pedestrians Under the Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance

A pedestrian who is under the influence of alcohol or any kind of drug to a degree which renders them a hazard must not walk or be on a roadway, except on a sidewalk.
Section 189.570

Driving Laws

Obedience to Traffic Control Devices

A driver must obey any traffic control devices applicable to the driver.
Section 189.338

Driving on Right Side of Roadway

Drivers must drive in the right lane of roadways whenever possible. The operator of any vehicle moving slowly on a roadway must keep their vehicle as closely as practicable to the right-hand boundary of the highway, allowing more swiftly moving vehicles reasonably free passage to the left.
Section 189.300

Passing On the Left

Driver proceeding in the same direction must pass to the left at at a safe distance and shall remain in the passing lane until it is safe to return to the right lane. Drivers being passed must not increase the speed of their vehicle until their vehicle is completely passed by the overtaking car.
Section 189.340
Section 189.350

Limitations on Overtaking on the Left

Drivers may drive to the left side of the center of the roadway in overtaking and passing another vehicle only if the left side is clearly visible and the overtaking vehicle can return to its lane without coming within two hundred feet of oncoming traffic.
Section 189.340

Passing On the Right

Drivers may pass on the right under the following conditions:

  • When the driver about to be passed is about to make a left turn. However, the driver attempting to pass on the right must not do so without driving off the pavement of main-traveled portion of the roadway.
  • When the roadway has two (2) or more lanes of traffic moving in the same direction.
  • On a one-way street where the roadway is free from obstructions and wide enough for two or more lines of moving vehicles.
Section 189.340

Following Too Closely

A driver must not follow another driver more closely than is "reasonable and prudent", having due regard for the speed of other drivers and traffic conditions along the roadway.
Section 189.340

Drivers and Mobile Electronic Devices

Any person under the age of eighteen who has been issued an instruction permit, intermediate license, or operator's license must not use a personal communication device while operating a motor vehicle, unless contacting emergency services.
Section 189.294

Drivers must not write, send, or read text-based communication using a personal communication device while driving on the traveled portion of a roadway, unless contacting emergency services.
Section 189.292

Drivers and Intersections

When two (2) drivers approach an intersection at approximately the same time the driver on the left must yield to the driver to their right.
Section 189.330

Drivers Intending to Turn Left at Intersections

A driver who intends to turn left at an intersection, or into an alley, private road or driveway must yield the right of way to drivers approaching from the opposite direction.
Section 189.330

Drivers Entering or Crossing a Roadway

A driver about to enter or cross a roadway from any place other than another roadway must yield the right of way to all vehicles on the roadway to be crossed.
Section 189.330

Motorcycling Laws

Helmet Law

Motorcyclists who are 21 years of age or younger, who possess a motorcycle instruction permit, or who have possessed a valid motorcycle license for less than one year must wear a helmet while riding on roadways. All motorcyclists must wear protective eyewear while riding on roadways.
Section 189.285

Motorcycles and Headlights

From thirty minutes after sunset until thirty minutes before sunrise, every motorcycle riding on a roadway must have at least one and not more than two lighted headlights turned on.
Section 189.040

Driving Offenses and Accident Requirements

Reckless Driving

A driver who drives in reckless or wanton manner is guilty of reckless driving, and can be fined and imprisoned.
Section 35.645

Alcohol and Minors

A driver under the age of twenty one (21) must not drive upon any roadway if their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.02% or higher.
Section 189A.010

Driver's Duty to Give Information and Render Aid

A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury, death or property damage must stop and determine the extent of the injury or damage, and give the occupant of the other vehicle, or person struck, if requested, the registration number of the vehicle, and the names and addresses of the owner, the occupants, and driver or the vehicle. The total names provided need not exceed five (5) in number.

Moreover the driver must render to any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including making of arrangements to transfer the injured person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent medical treatment is required or if the injured person requests assistance.
Section 189.580

Accidents Involving Death, Personal Injury, or Substantial Bodily Injury

A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death must stop and determine the extent of the injury or damage, and give the occupant of the other vehicle, or person struck, if requested, the registration number of the vehicle, and the names and addresses of the owner, the occupants, and driver or the vehicle. The total names provided need not exceed five (5) in number.

Moreover the driver must render to any person injured in the accident reasonable assistance, including making of arrangements to transfer the injured person to a physician, surgeon, or hospital for medical or surgical treatment if it is apparent medical treatment is required or if the injured person requests assistance.

A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury or death must file a written report of the accident with the Department of Kentucky State Police within ten (10) days of the accident.
Section 189.580

Accidents Involving Only Damage to Another Car or Property

A driver involved in an accident resulting only in damage to property or another car which is driven or attended by any person must immediately stop at the scene of the accident or as close to it as possible and must remain at the scene of the accident until the driver determines the extent of the injury or damage, and gives the occupant of the other vehicle or property, if requested, the registration number of the vehicle, and the names and addresses of the owner, the occupants, and driver or the vehicle. The total names provided need not exceed five (5) in number.

If the total damage to all property resulted in $500 or more, the driver must file a written report of the accident with the Department of Kentucky State Police within ten (10) days of the accident.
Section 189.580

Accidents Involving Damage to Unattended Car or Unattended Property

A driver who collides with a parked car or who collides with other property which is unattended must immediately stop at the scene of the accident or as close to it as possible and must attempt to locate and notify the driver or owner of the damaged car or damaged property.

Once located the driver who caused the accident must give their name, address, and vehicle registration number.

If the driver or owner of the damaged car or property cannot be located, the driver who caused the accident must attach a written note to the damaged property in a conspicuous place giving their name, address, and vehicle registration number. Or, the driver can file a report with the local police department.
Section 189.580

Driver's Duty to Notify Police Department

A driver involved in an accident resulting in injury, death, or total damage to all property resulting in $500 or more must file a written report of the accident with the Department of Kentucky State Police within ten (10) days of the accident.

If the driver is physically unable to give immediate notice, then the owner of the vehicle or another occupant in the car must report the accident to the local police in a reasonable amount of time.
Section 189.580

Accident Reports Filed By Police Departments

Every law enforcement agency whose officers investigate a vehicle accident that results in injury, death, or renders a vehicle inoperable must file a report of the accident with the Department of Kentucky State Police within ten (10) days after investigation of the accident.
Section 189.635

Accident Report Forms

The Justice and Public Safety Cabinet (Department of Kentucky State Police) are responsible for providing accident report forms for all vehicle accidents which occur within Kentucky.
Section 189.635

Open Alcohol Container Law

A driver or passenger must not be in possession of an opened container of an alcoholic beverage while the car is on or along Kentucky roadways.

An opened alcoholic beverage container can be kept only in a locked glove compartment, the trunk of a vehicle, or in the area behind the rearmost upright seat of a vehicle without a trunk (place not normally occupied by a passenger).

Passengers of a motor home or a hired vehicle can consume and possess an opened container.
Section 189.530

Driving Under Influence of Alcohol or Controlled Substance

A driver must not drive after drinking an alcoholic beverage or consuming an intoxicant in an amount which renders the driver incapable of driving safely along roadways. In Kentucky, a driver is guilty of the offense of operating under the influence if the driver has a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is 0.08% or higher.
Section 189A.101

Ignition Interlock Device

A driver who is guilty of driving while under the influence of an intoxicant might ordered to have installed at his or her own expenses an ignition interlock device. The ignition interlock device will serve to restore the driver's driving privileges during the pendency of the driver's probation. If an ignition device is installed, it must be installed in every car owned or operated by the driver.

An ignition interlock is a device which measures any amount of alcohol contained in a driver's body. Before starting the car the driver must blow into a tube emanating from the ignition interlock device. If the device then detects a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) higher than is permitted by law the car will not start and the violation will be reported to the prosecutor, the probation officer, and/or the judge. At that point the driver may be subject to loss of driving privileges, immediate arrest and incarceration up to the maximum term provided by law.
Section 189A.085

Liability Laws

Kentucky and Dram Shop Law

In Kentucky, a person who sells or serves alcohol is not liable for the personal injuries or property damage caused by an intoxicated person who is 21 years or age or older, unless the seller or server was aware or should have been aware that the person being served was already intoxicated.
Section 413.241

Financial Responsibility Car Insurance Minimum Limits

In the State of Kentucky, each motor vehicle must be covered by an insurance policy that includes liability coverage of the following amounts for all damages resulting from an accident:

  • At least $25,000 per person
  • At least $50,000 for two or more people
  • $10,000 per occurrence for property damage
Section 304.39-110

Kentucky Insurance Information

For information about property insurance, see the Kentucky Department of insurance website.

Pure Comparative Negligence

In some cases, the victim in a car accident can sue the negligent driver for compensation. The victim's liability in causing the accident, their comparative negligence, affects the amount of compensation the victim receives. If the victim compensation is reduced by the amount they contributed to the accident.
Section 44.073

Example of Pure Comparative Negligence

One morning, Jackson was driving north on his way to work. At an intersection, he pulled into the left turn lane. At the same time, Melanie approached the intersection from the opposite direction. Suddenly, Jackson turned left into Melanie's lane and their cars collided.

Melanie sustained serious brain injuries and damage to her car, totalling in $100,000 dollars worth of damages.

After their investigation, the police determined that Jackson had failed to yield according to traffic laws. A pedestrian witness told police he saw Melanie texting at the time Jackson's car crashed into Melanie's. As a result, the police issued Melanie a citation for using a mobile device while driving.

Melanie sued Jackson for $100,000 and claimed he was 100% at fault for the accident because he did not yield to her right-of-way. At trial, the jury found Jackson liable for failing to yield the right-of-way. However, the jury also found Melissa liable for using a mobile device while driving and partially responsible for the accident.

The verdict stated Jackson's negligence equaled 70% of the accident, and Melanie's equaled 30%. The jury awarded Melanie only $70,000 dollars.
Pure Comparative Negligence: Section 44.073
Right of Way: Section 189.330
Drivers and Mobile Electronic Devices: Section 189.294

Kentucky's No Fault Car Insurance

Kentucky requires basic car owners to purchase personal injury protection (PIP) coverage on all motor vehicles except motorcycles. Basic PIP is paid to victims of car accidents by their own auto insurance providers, regardless of who was at fault in the accident.

Basic PIP provides up to $10,000 per person per accident for medical expenses, lost wages and similar "out of pocket" costs due to an injury. This no-fault system also limits a victim's right to sue a negligent driver and be sued. Victims cannot recover medical expenses, wage loss, other expenses, or pain and suffering from the at-fault person unless their injuries exceed certain thresholds. The thresholds are $1,000 in medical expenses, a broken bone, permanent disfigurement, permanent injury, or death.
Section 304.39-060

Statute of Limitations

Kentucky has a two (2) year statute of limitations for property damage claims and an one (1) year statute of limitations for personal injury claims.
Section 413.140
Section 413.125

Small Claims Courts

In some cases, victims of car accidents can sue the negligent driver in small claims court. The jurisdiction of a small claims court regarding personal injury and property damage is limited to a maximum of $2,500, exclusive of filing fees and court costs.

For information about filing a claims in small claims court, see the Kentucky Court of Justice handbook.

Kentucky Government State Claims - Sovereign Immunity

In Kentucky, it is possible to submit a claim against a governmental agency or its employees for personal injury or property damage as a result of negligence on the part of the governmental agency or its employees. The claim must refer to an lawful action on the part of the governmental agency or employee performed in the scope of their duties.

If the injury or property damage occurred as a result of an unlawful action, then the claimant can sue only the person(s) who caused injury or property damage individually. The governmental agency would not be liable.

The Board of Claims is the governmental body that is responsible for investigating, hearing, and compensating claims against the state of Kentucky.
State of Kentucky Constitution: Section 231
Section 44.070

Example

If Melissa, an engineer with the Louisville Planning Department, ran a red light on her way to a worksite and caused an accident, then the City of Louisville would be liable for the property damage and personal injuries caused her.

If Melissa stopped for a few drinks and became intoxicated before heading to a worksite and causing an accident, then the City of Louisville can claim sovereign immunity. Melissa performed an unlawful act and was not acting in the scope of her duties when she became intoxicated on her way to the worksite.

To seek compensation for damages, injured parties would have to sue Melissa personally. The determination of whether or not Melissa was acting within the scope of her duties would have to be decided during a trial.

Kentucky places a cap of $200,000 on the maximum amount of damages that can be claimed by any one person against a government agency or its employees, and a maximum of $350,000 for any single act of negligence.
Section 44.070
NCSL

Sources

State Government of Kentucky

Kentucky Transportation Cabinet

Kentucky State Legislature

Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet

Governors Highway Safety Association

Kentucky Bar Association

National Conference on State Legislature

Print Friendly and PDF

How Much Is Your Claim Worth?

Find out now with a FREE case review from an attorney...

How Much Are Your
Injuries Worth?

Find out with a
free attorney review:

TYPE OF ACCIDENT
AUTO ACCIDENT
PERSONAL INJURY
WORKERS COMPENSATION
MEDICAL ERROR
YES! I WANT FAIR COMPENSATION