Kentucky Car Accident Laws Staff Profile Picture
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From 2020 to 2021, Kentucky experienced an increase of 8.4% in reported collisions on public roads and 5.4% in fatal collisions. According to a report published by the Kentucky Transportation Center, around 119,000 collisions took place in 2021. More than 6,000 of those crashes occurred on I-75 and I-65, which left over 1,400 people injured and took the lives of 46 individuals.

Driver inattention has been found to be the leading cause of collisions in Kentucky. It was responsible for 36.19% of all collisions and 18.21% of fatal collisions in 2021. Drivers losing proper control of their vehicles was next, accounting for 14.26% of all collisions and 28.4% of fatal collisions.

In addition to the traffic regulations that Kentucky enforces on its roads, it also has statewide laws that outline the rights and protect the interests of victims and plaintiffs.

Speeding Laws

Speeding contributes to 12.5% of fatal crashes in Kentucky. Collisions are considered speed-related if the investigating officer finds evidence of racing, exceeding the posted speed limit, or driving too fast without regard for road conditions at the time of the accident. Listed below are the speed limits for different roadways in Kentucky:

15 mph

On off-street parking facilities

35 mph

In business or residential districts

55 mph

Outside business or residential districts

65 mph

On interstate highways and divided highways with 4 or more lanes

Absolute Speed Limit

Kentucky also follows an absolute speed limit law, which means that driving even 1 mph faster than the posted speed limit will result in a violation. The driver will incur a three-point demerit from their record should they go 10 mph over the posted speed limit, with the only exception being on a limited access highway. Fines for this type of violation range from $20 to $30.

Car Seat Laws

The safety belt use rate in Kentucky was 86.72% in 2021, which is lower than the 91.6% national use rate. Thus, the Kentucky State Police has been holding regular traffic checkpoints and moving patrols to make the roads safer and reduce fatality rates. Kentucky’s primary seat belt laws allow police officers to stop and issue a ticket if the driver or any of its passengers are not wearing a seat belt.

The law also states that a child under one year or weighing under 20 pounds must be restrained in a rear-facing seat. Children aged 12 or younger must always ride in the back seat, and they must use a five-point harness car seat if they are under the age of four or weigh less than 40 pounds.

Kentucky Booster Seat Law

Under the Kentucky Booster Seat Law, children under the age of eight who are between 40 inches and 57 inches in height must be properly secured in a child booster seat. This is applicable to any driver of a motor vehicle whenever they are transporting a child on the roadways, streets, and highways of Kentucky. Failure to secure children in a booster seat will result in a $30 fine.

Children who are taller than 57 inches are not required by law to be secured in a child booster seat; instead, regular seat belt laws will apply to them.


The following are exempt from Kentucky’s seat belt laws:

  • If the individual has a physical or medical limitation, provided that a licensed medical practitioner can vouch for their condition in a letter. The letter must always be with the individual.

  • Farm trucks registered for agricultural purposes, provided they do not weigh more than a ton.

  • Mail carriers of the U.S. Postal Service while they are on duty.

Kentucky DUI

According to Kentucky’s traffic regulations, it is illegal for an individual to operate a vehicle under the following circumstances:

  • When their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) is .08% or higher. For those driving a commercial vehicle, the threshold is .04% or higher.

  • While under the influence of any prohibited drug, alcohol, or a combination of the two.

  • If there is any quantity of illegal drugs, such as cocaine, methamphetamine, and methadone, in their blood.

Aggravating Circumstances

The consequences of a DUI may be more severe than they normally would be due to  aggravating circumstances. 

One of the most frequent grounds for an aggravated DUI charge is the driver's refusal to consent to have any testing done to their blood, breath, or urine. Refusing tests on the side of the road is, however, not an aggravating circumstance. Only if the test is administered at a hospital, jail, police station, or another testing location does a refusal become an aggravating circumstance.

Other aggravating factors include driving more than 30 miles per hour faster than the posted limit and going the wrong way on a limited-access highway.

Aggravating circumstances can increase the penalty for a DUI conviction, and as a result, obtaining a hardship license may become difficult.


The penalties for DUI in Kentucky can be reduced should the individual choose to enroll in the Kentucky Ignition Interlock Program (KIIP). Through this program, the individual is provided with an ignition interlock license and is only permitted to drive a vehicle or a motorcycle that is fitted with an operational ignition interlock device. The regular sanctions, along with the reduced sanctions under the KIIP, are outlined below:

# of offenses within a 10-year period

Regular penalty

Reduced penalty under KIIP

1st offense

90 days of alcohol or substance abuse program

Six-month license suspension​

90 days of alcohol or substance abuse program

​90 days of violation-free KIIP participation​

Six-month license suspension​

2nd offense

​One year of alcohol or substance abuse treatment

18-month license suspension

​One year of alcohol or substance abuse program

​120 days of violation-free KIIP participation​

12-month license suspension​

3rd offense

One year of alcohol or substance abuse treatment

36-month license suspension

​​One year of alcohol or substance abuse program

​120 days of violation-free KIIP participation​

18-month license suspension​

4th offense

​One year of alcohol or substance abuse treatment

60-month license suspension​

​​One year of alcohol or substance abuse program

​120 days of violation-free KIIP participation​

30-month license suspension​

Kentucky Reckless Driving Laws

Reckless driving in Kentucky refers to anything that could be considered a risk to the safety of anyone on the road. § 189.290 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) describes the expectations of a good driver and opens up the possibility of anything else being considered a violation. Some offenses are drag racing, making erratic lane changes, following other vehicles too closely, and passing other vehicles at inappropriate times.

First-time offenders can face fines between $20 and $100, and the same penalties apply to a second offense. However, for the third offense within a 12-month period, the driver’s license will be suspended for six months.  

Kentucky Point System

The Kentucky Point System allows the government to monitor individuals who may be habitually negligent drivers. Points are assigned to various types of traffic violations; upon accumulating 12 points (or 7 points for minors) within a two-year period, an individual’s driving privileges may be suspended. 

Drivers are provided an opportunity to meet with a hearing officer before any suspension. Failure to attend the hearing results in a 6-month, 1-year, or 2-year driving suspension, depending on whether it is the first, second, or any subsequent instance beyond the second accumulation of 12 points. 

Points recorded by the system are valid for two years after the conviction date. However, the conviction entry does not disappear from the driver's record for five years following the conviction date.

Listed below are a few of the violations and the corresponding points assigned to them:

3 points

​11-15 mph over the speed limit on a limited access highway, wrong way on a one-way street, too fast for conditions, failure to yield, stopping violation (electric signal, railroad crossing, stop sign), failure to comply with instructional permit requirements or regulations, texting while driving

4 points

Reckless driving, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, changing drivers in a moving vehicle, following too closely, driving on the wrong side of roadway

5 points

Improper passing

6 points

Speeding 16-25 mph, failure to stop for a school or church bus, committing two or more violations at once

A hearing with possible suspension is applicable for drivers who have been caught racing or driving 26 mph over the speed limit on any road or highway. Attempting to elude police officers will result in a hearing and immediate suspension of driving privileges.

Kentucky Minimum Auto Insurance Requirements

The Kentucky government has been cracking down on uninsured motorists across the state. According to Kentucky’s Revised Statute on motor vehicle insurance, failure to maintain insurance will result in the revocation of the vehicle’s registration. The vehicle owner and driver could also face up to 90 days in jail or receive a fine of $500 to $1,000.

In Kentucky, all car owners are required to have at least the minimum liability coverage, which is $25,000 for all claims of bodily injuries to any one person and no less than $50,000 for all claims of bodily injury damages to all parties affected by an accident. This should also include $25,000 for all claims of property damage as a result of any one accident.

A policy with a single limit of $60,000 is acceptable, but it must also provide basic reparations benefits.

Kentucky Is a No-Fault State for Insurance Claims

Kentucky follows the no-fault doctrine when it comes to auto insurance, which means that regardless of who caused a car accident, policyholders will receive personal injury protection (PIP) benefits from their auto insurance companies. The compensation goes to the payment of lost wages, medical fees, and other out-of-pocket expenses. Vehicle owners are required to purchase PIP as part of their auto insurance coverage.

Benefits of up to $10,000 are paid under a standard PIP policy in the event that someone loses their life in a vehicular accident. Under the no-fault system, the injured party cannot sue for damages unless the following thresholds are met:

  • Medical expenses exceed $1,000.

  • Suffered permanent injury, disfigurement, or broken bones.

  • Death of a family member.

Alternatively, a person involved in a car accident may decide to forgo PIP coverage in order to be exempt from the no-fault limitations on bringing a lawsuit in the state. Drivers can choose not to get PIP coverage and instead get a standard auto liability policy. The individual must file a Kentucky No-Fault Rejection Form with the KY Department of Insurance and then get the following minimum coverage:

  • Bodily injury liability coverage of $25,000 per person or $50,000 per accident.

  • Property damage liability coverage of $10,000 per accident or $60,000 combined liability coverage.

  • Uninsured motorist coverage equal to the minimum bodily injury limits fault.

Kentucky Is a Pure Comparative Fault State for Car Accident Lawsuits

Kentucky follows a pure comparative negligence rule, which entitles an individual to compensation even if they share part of the blame for the accident. If both parties are partially responsible for the crash, the fault will be distributed in percentages corresponding to the amount of damage they caused.

In determining who was at fault, the driver's negligence and recklessness are taken into account. One party's proportion of fault will increase and likely end up being higher if it can be proven that they have violated a law. 

For example, suppose a jury finds that the defendant is 70% at fault and the plaintiff is 30% at fault. If the jury decides that the plaintiff's damages are worth $100,000, the plaintiff gets $70,000. This also means that compared with other comparative negligence laws, Kentucky's system allows individuals to recover damages even if they have been found to be 99% at fault.

The strength of an individual's claim is subject to how strongly their legal team presents their evidence. This is why plaintiffs who want to go to court are usually told to hire a Kentucky car accident lawyer who can help them make a strong case. This also increases the plaintiff’s chances of receiving a higher settlement.

Kentucky Statute of Limitations for Car Accidents

The statute of limitations for car accidents in Kentucky is two years from the date of the incident or two years from the day the individual's insurance provider made the last no-fault medical (or no-fault PIP) payment. 

Exceptions to Statute of Limitations

The following are the exceptions to Kentucky's two-year statute of limitations:

  • If the individual who is filing a complaint against another motorist for injuries does not have PIP coverage, they only have one year from the date of the accident to file a claim.

  • If the plaintiff did not discover their injuries long after the accident

  • If the injured party is below 18, then the statute of limitations may not start running until the injured party’s 18th birthday.

  • If the defendant has disappeared and cannot be found.

Average Settlements for Kentucky Car Accident Lawsuits

The average settlement for a typical car accident in Kentucky can range anywhere from $18,000 to $28,000. Factors such as accident details, medical treatment costs, and evidence of physical pain and emotional suffering affect the value of a car accident victim's case.

It is crucial that the person understand that any settlement they take from an insurance company will likely be legally binding before accepting it. This implies that once they accept the settlement, they are barred from pursuing further compensation for their injuries.

Legal Resources for Kentucky Car Accident Victims

Kentucky Legal Aid

Kentucky Legal Aid (KLA) is a nonprofit public interest law firm that has been representing impoverished clients in courts since 1977. It serves 35 counties all over Western and South Central Kentucky and has four fully staffed offices and three satellite locations. KLA fights for victims’ rights and does not charge a fee for its services. Its contact numbers are as follows:

Bowling Green Office

(270) 782-1924

Toll-Free: (800) 782-1924

Madisonville Office

(270) 825-3801

Toll-Free: (800) 467-2193

Paducah Office

(270) 442-5518

Toll-Free: (800) 467-2218

Owensboro Office

(270) 683-4585

Toll-Free: (800) 467-2260

Kentucky DMV Handbook

The Kentucky Driver’s Manual was prepared by the state police. It covers various topics, such as safe driving practices and road signs.

Kentucky State Police Civilian Collision Report

The Kentucky State Police Civilian Collision Report is where drivers involved in a crash can enter, print, and submit a traffic report online if the accident has not yet been investigated by a police officer.

LexisNexis® BuyCrash®

LexisNexis® BuyCrash® is an online platform where drivers can obtain a copy of their accident report.

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