Can I Sue the State of Kentucky for a Car Accident Caused by a Road Hazard?

Can I Sue the State of Kentucky for a Car Accident Caused by a Road Hazard?

Many different things can cause a car accident. For example, one of the most common causes of car accidents is driver error. When another driver causes a crash, you may be able to recover compensation by filing a lawsuit. However, some motor vehicle accidents are caused by dangerous road conditions or road hazards. When a road hazard causes an accident, you may have a claim against the Commonwealth, if you can prove the Commonwealth was negligent.

Proving negligence is the key to recovering damages in a lawsuit against the state. This often involves conducting an exhaustive investigation and using experts to prove the state was negligent. As experienced Kentucky car accident lawyers, we have the resources, knowledge, and skills needed to help you prove the government was responsible for your car accident. Let us help you hold the state agency or local government office accountable for their negligent acts.

Sovereign Immunity in Kentucky

Sovereign immunity protects the state, including its employees and various departments and agencies, from being sued while acting within the scope of employment. However, the General Assembly enacted specific legislation (KRS §44.072) that exempts claims for injury caused by negligence from sovereign immunity. Therefore, if you are injured in a motor vehicle accident caused by a road hazard, you can file a lawsuit against a state government office or employee, but you must prove negligence.

The government who is responsible for maintaining the road has a duty of care to ensure that the roads are free from dangerous conditions or hazards that can cause an accident. If the government agency or entity fails to use reasonable care to protect the public, it has failed in its duty of care. Types of road hazards or dangerous conditions that may give rise to a lawsuit for damages include:

  • Potholes, cracks, and uneven pavement
  • Improperly designed curves or intersections
  • Missing, defective, or damaged guard rails, signs, and signals
  • Road debris left from a construction site
  • Insufficient dividers or medians
  • Lack of or improper maintenance
  • Failing to trim or clear brush, foliage, or other obstructions
  • Lack of appropriate warnings, such as warning of road work or warning of steep grades
  • Designs that allow for excess pooling of water that can cause hydroplaning

Claims involving the government can be complex. It is always a good idea to speak with an attorney who has experience handling these types of personal injury claims.

Suing the Commonwealth of Kentucky

KRS §44.070 creates a Board of Claims and vests with that Board the full power and authority to handle negligence claims filed against the Commonwealth. A claim must be filed with the Board within one year from the date of the accident. However, it is never a good idea to wait to file your claim because your case could involve matters that shorten the time to file a claim.

The maximum amount of compensation you can receive for your claim is $200,000 with a maximum of $350,000 for all claims arising from an incident. The amount of your reward will be reduced by any compensation you have received for your claim from any other sources. Furthermore, you cannot receive compensation for pain and suffering damages.

Claims Against Local Governments

In some cases, your claim may be against a local government. State agencies maintain certain roads and other roads are the responsibility of local governments. Kentucky Revised Statutes §§65.2001 through 65.2006 govern claims against local entities and agencies. Sovereign immunity does not protect municipalities, and there are not caps on compensation except for reducing the total received by any percentage of fault assigned to the victim.

However, KRS §44.071 places exclusive jurisdiction for claims related to the maintenance or operation of state-owned traffic control devices by local governments with the Board of Claims. Therefore, if your claim relates to a traffic light in your city, your claim would be filed with the Board of Claims rather than against the city government.

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