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What is a Tort Case, and What does it Involve in Kentucky?

Tort claims in Kentucky go to the Kentucky Claims Commission and the Kentucky judiciary, depending on the tort’s nature. Any person, private or public establishment may file a tort claim against another person, private establishment, the state, public employees, or agency. The courts maintain records of these civil filings, which are available to interested persons.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the document or person involved

Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party websites may vary.

What is Kentucky Tort Law?

Kentucky tort law refers to applicable statutes and prior case law that directs the Kentucky Claims Commission and the judiciary to examine and adjudicate tort claims. The Kentucky tort law is not codified, but Chapter 49 and Chapter 411 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes embody the state’s bulk of tort law.

What Kinds of Cases are Covered by Tort Law in Kentucky?

The following are common cases covered by the Kentucky tort law:

  • Negligence: Negligence tort is one of the common tort claims in Kentucky. Here, the tortfeasor failed to discharge his/her duty of care, resulting in personal injury and loss to the petitioner. Typical examples include negligent infliction of physical or emotional distress and negligent entrustment.
  • Invasion of Privacy: Kentucky allows petitioners to claim reasonable damages for unwarranted interference by the public about matters with which the public is not necessarily concerned.
  • Loss of consortium: An individual can make a tort claim if an injury results in a spouse’s death (Ky. Rev. Stat. 411.145).
  • False Imprisonment: Refers to the unlawful restraint of physical liberty through force or the threat of force. Tort claims include damages for loss of time, physical discomfort or injury, emotional distress, humiliation, and injury to reputation.
  • Fraud: Kentucky tort law allows petitioners to make a claim where the tortfeasor breached a duty to disclose facts and caused the petitioner to suffer a personal injury.
  • Product liability: A petitioner may make a tort claim against a manufacturer whose product caused personal injury or loss due to the manufacturer’s failure to discharge his/her duty of care. Examples include manufacturing defects, warning defects, and design flaws.

What are the Differences Between Criminal Law and Tort Law in Kentucky?

Kentucky criminal law and tort law overlap in some ways, but both accomplish different objectives. For one, the Kentucky criminal law specifies the statutory punishments that individuals face for threatening, conspiring, harming, or endangering the state, public health, morality, property, and persons (Title XL, Kentucky Revised Statutes).. Under criminal law, a person faces jail time, punitive fines, rehabilitation, and restrictions.

Conversely, tort law is an aspect of Kentucky civil law that focuses on victim compensation. Unlike criminal law, the goal is not the punishment or rehabilitation [of the offender, i.e., the tortfeasor]. Instead, the court compels the tortfeasor to pay money equivalent to the personal injury or loss inflicted.

What is the Purpose of Tort Law in Kentucky?

The tort law in Kentucky serves the following primary purposes:

  • Establish wrongful action: Generally, the tort law in Kentucky ascertains that an entity committed a civil wrong against another entity, resulting in injury, damages, or loss.
  • Distribute liability: The Kentucky tort law specifies that people and companies must bear liability for the actions (Ky. Rev. Stat. 411.182).
  • Protect civil interests: Kentucky tort law protects the civil interests of individuals who have suffered harm due to the intentional or accidental acts of others. Thus, Kentucky tort law maintains law and order based on “ubi jus ibi remedium” (where there is a right, there is a remedy).

What is a Tort Claim in Kentucky?

A tort claim is a civil filing demanding that a tortfeasor bear equitable responsibility for the personal injury or loss caused.

How Do You File a Tort Claim in Kentucky?

The petitioner must send a written notice of claim to the tortfeasor, which must describe the date, time, location, and nature of the tort. The petitioner must then request that the tortfeasor make restitution by responding and paying an amount within a specified period [typically 14 days]. If the tortfeasor does not respond or declines to make restitution, the petitioner must make a civil filing in the county where the tort occurred.

If the tort claim is against the state, its employee, or agency, the petitioner must file a claim with the Kentucky Claims Commission. KRS Chapter 49 and KAR Title 802 empower the Commission to make an impartial and fair review of the tort claim and accept or reject the tort claim. All petitioners must file a tort claim within one year of the tort.

What Does a Tort Claim Contain in Kentucky?

The Commission provides a claim form for persons interested in filing a tort claim against the state. Generally, a tort claim must contain the following information:

  • The name and address of the claimant;
  • Contact information;
  • Name of the tortfeasor (individual or state agency involved);
  • Location of the injury;
  • Date and time of the injury;
  • A description of the event;
  • The personal injury or loss suffered;
  • Statements by witnesses (written and notarized);
  • Any relevant proof;
  • The liability of the tortfeasor; and,
  • Amount of damages sought;

What Happens after a Tort Claim is Filed in Kentucky?

Upon receiving the tort claim, the Commission directs the agency to make an investigation to find fault. Investigating and responding to a tort claim takes thirty to sixty days, depending on the case complexity. The possible responses range from accepting the tort claim to reducing the claim amount or dismissing the claim. If necessary, the Commission shall conduct a claim hearing involving the petitioner and the state agency. Petitioners also have the option of filing an appeal to the Court of Appeals when efforts to resolve the tort have failed (Ky. Rev. Stat. 49.160)..

Meanwhile, tort claims against individuals and private entities go to court and follow the Kentucky rule of civil procedure. The court will conduct a bench trial or a jury trial to establish the existence of a fiduciary duty, a breach of that duty, and the need to compensate the petitioner for the personal injury or loss. Either way, the parties involved may settle the claim out of court to save time and resources.

Why Do I Need a Personal Injury Lawyer for a Tort Claim?

As Kentucky tort law is not codified, self-represented petitioners typically have difficulty navigating the tort law’s nuances. Filing a personal injury claim involves a lot of research, as the court must find fault or a breach of duty of care to adjudicate a tort claim. The petitioner must also supplement the filing with admissible evidence and witnesses. Without legal experience, this may be complicated.

In writing a tort claim, it is also commonplace for petitioners to self-implicate or fail to present a factual claim, resulting in dismissal of the tort claim in court. A personal injury lawyer examines the merits of the tort claim, drafts the notice of claim, gathers evidence, goes to court, and negotiates settlement agreements. The efficient execution of these responsibilities comes with experience and years of legal education that a petitioner often lacks.

How Can I Find a Personal Injury Lawyer Near Me?

The Kentucky Bar Association offers a lawyer referral service. Interested persons may also use the lawyer locator to find personal injury lawyers by location. The judiciary also makes a self-help page available to self-represented litigants.

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