Understanding Kentucky's Auto Accident Statute of Limitations

There is a two year statute of limitations for auto accident claims in Kentucky.

March 22, 2022

Article at a Glance:

  • Kentucky's two year auto accident statute of limitations
  • When the two year period begins to run
  • Application of the limitations period to your case


What is the auto accident statute of limitations in Kentucky?

There is a two year statute of limitations for auto accident claims in Kentucky. This limitation is found in Kentucky Revised Statute ยง 304.39-230, which states:

304.39-320 Limitations of actions.

(1) 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 ... 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.

This means a lawsuit alleging auto negligence must be filed no later than two years after the collision or it will be considered time-barred. If basic reparation benefits have been paid (i.e. PIP payments for medical expenses or lost wages), the two year period begins to accrue after the last payment of such benefits. There are many nuances to this two year deadline, which are set forth in Kentucky case opinions. For this reason, it is important to speak with an attorney if you have been injured in an auto accident.



When does Kentucky's auto accident statute of limitation begin to run?

As a general rule, the auto accident two year limitation period begins to run (accrue) on the date of the accident. But there are critical exceptions to this rule. A few of those exceptions are as follows:

PIP Benefits Paid - The two year limitation period runs on the earlier of (1) the date of the accident or (2) the last PIP benefit payment. In other words, if an auto insurance company paid medical expenses or lost wages pursuant to a PIP policy, the plaintiff benefiting from such payments can file an auto negligence lawsuit any time on or before the two year anniversary of the issuance of last payment, regardless of how much time has passed since the accident.

  • Example: On January 1, 2021, vehicle 1 negligently crashes his vehicle into a vehicle driven by John Smith, causing injury to Smith. Smith seeks medical treatment and his last date of treatment is June 1, 2021. Smith's auto insurance carrier pays for all of the medical treatment, pursuant to Smith's no-fault benefits, and issues its last payment on August 1, 2021. Smith has until August 1, 2023 to file a lawsuit against the driver of vehicle 1.

Age of Majority - The two year limitation period does not begin to run until the plaintiff is an adult. In Kentucky, age 18 is considered the legal age of majority. Therefore, a plaintiff can file an auto negligence lawsuit any time on or before his or her 20th birthday, regardless of how much time has passed since the auto accident.

  • Example: On January 1, 2017, vehicle 1 negligently crashes his vehicle into a vehicle driven by Jane Doe. Doe's 2-year-old daughter, Baby Doe, was in a car seat in the rear of the vehicle and was injured. Baby Doe's birthday is March 1, 2015. Baby Doe's statute of limitations does not run until her 20th birthday - March 1, 2035.

Mental Disability - The two year limitation period does not begin to run against a person who is mentally disabled until the disability is lifted. This scenario could happen where traumatic brain injury has occurred, or where a plaintiff was rendered unconscious due to surgery or coma. In other instances, individuals with permanent intellectual disabilities may have an indefinite period in which to file a medical malpractice claim.

  • Example: On January 1, 2020, vehicle 1 negligently crashes his vehicle into a vehicle driven by George Smith. Smith's adult son, David, was riding as a passenger and was injured. David has had severe intellectual disabilities since birth. David's statute of limitations will expire two years after his death, regardless of how many years pass.

Wrongful Death - When damages are sought for an auto accident that caused the death of another, the personal representative of the deceased party has one year to file a wrongful death lawsuit after being appointed to serve by the probate court. If no representative has been appointed within one year of death, the limitation period automatically begins to run, and the personal representative one year from the anniversary date to file the lawsuit.

  • Example: On January 1, 2022, vehicle 1 negligently crashes his vehicle into a vehicle driven by John Doe. Doe dies as a result of injuries sustained in the accident. Doe's family opens an estate on July 1, 2022. Doe's estate has until July 1, 2023 to file a lawsuit against the driver of vehicle 1.

Loss of Consortium - Critically, the two year statute of limitation does not apply to some other claims that may be associated with the auto accident. For example, a spouse, parent, or minor child seeking damages for loss of consortium arising out of the same event must file suit within one year of the accident.

  • Example: On January 1, 2022, vehicle 1 negligently crashes his vehicle into a vehicle driven by John Doe. Doe dies as a result of injuries sustained in the accident. Doe's wife has until January 1, 2023 to file a lawsuit against the driver of vehicle 1 for her loss of consortium. *Note: this cutoff date will occur before the Estate's cutoff date.
  • Example 2: On January 1, 2022, vehicle 1 negligently crashes his vehicle into a vehicle driven by John Doe. Doe dies as a result of injuries sustained in the accident. Doe's 5 year old son has until his 19th birthday to file a lawsuit for his loss of parental consortium.

Application of Kentucky's auto accident statute of limitations to your case.

You should take limited comfort in any statute of limitation exception that might apply to your case. Each case is unique and courts will carefully consider the particular facts of your case before granting an exception. Remember, the general rule is two years. A plaintiff who files a lawsuit after the two year anniversary of either the accident or last PIP payment should expect a battle on the issue of whether the case should be allowed to proceed.

If you have questions about the application of Kentucky's statute of limitations to your case, contact us as soon as possible to protect your rights.