Kentucky Appeals Court Dismisses Public Street Injury Claim Based on Insufficiency of Notice to City

by Mandy Hicks

Filing a personal injury lawsuit against a city can be very tricky. If certain rigid procedural requirements are not met, a plaintiff’s case can be dismissed even if a city was clearly negligent.

This is one of many reasons why it is best to consult an attorney as soon as possible after being involved in an accident. Unlike the average citizen, experienced Kentucky premises liability attorneys are well-versed in the area of negligence litigation, including the special rules that apply in cases involving a city.

Facts of the Case

In an unpublished case recently under consideration by the Commonwealth of Kentucky Court of Appeals, the plaintiff filed a personal injury complaint against the defendant city after she allegedly stepped into a hole while exiting her vehicle on a public street in January 2014. The city filed a motion to dismiss the woman’s complaint, alleging that she had failed to strictly comply with the notice requirements contained in KRS § 411.110 and existing Kentucky case law.

The Owen County Circuit Court dismissed the woman’s complaint, and she appealed.

The Court’s Decision

The court of appeals affirmed the lower tribunal’s dismissal of the woman’s case. The court first reviewed the letter sent to the mayor of the defendant city by the injured woman’s attorney. In essence, the letter informed the mayor that the woman had retained the attorney’s services with respect to a slip and fall case arising from a “hole due to a defect in the public street” at a certain location. According to the court, the letter may have implied that a claim would be forthcoming, but it did not specifically state that the woman would claim damages from the city.

The lower court dismissed the case because the letter did not attempt to describe the woman’s injuries or state that she would seek damages from the city, but the woman argued that her notice was sufficient because the modern trend is to allow substantial compliance with notice statutes. The appellate court disagreed, observing that the courts in Kentucky have uniformly held that the statute in question requires literal compliance. Actual or constructive notice will not suffice if the statute is not followed.

Since the giving of notice as required by the statute was mandatory and a condition precedent to the filing of the woman’s complaint, the appellate court affirmed the lower court’s order dismissing her action.

Talk to a Bowling Green Personal Injury Lawyer

If you or a loved one has been hurt by someone else’s negligence, you need to speak to a lawyer about the procedural requirements for holding the other party liable in a court of law. Each case is unique, and failing to follow each and every step necessary can negate an otherwise valid claim. At English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP, our team of personal injury attorneys is here to help with your Kentucky or Tennessee injury case. Call us at 270-781-6500 for a free consultation.

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