Kentucky Malpractice Settlement Amounts

Below are settlement amounts and jury payouts in Kentucky medical malpractice lawsuits.  This page also summarizes key areas of Kentucky malpractice law.

According to Jury Verdict Research, the average personal injury jury verdict in Kentucky is $518,387. The median jury verdict in Kentucky is $40,000.  We drill down on Kentucky malpractice.

Kentucky Medical Malpractice Verdicts and Settlements

This update is current through February 2024:

  • 2023, Kentucky: $21,300,000 Verdict.A Bowling Green woman developed serious complications from a perforated bowel following a hernia operation. The woman and her husband filed a malpractice lawsuit the following year against the clinic and the surgeon responsible for the procedure, alleging negligence. After the surgery, the woman’s health deteriorated significantly, and despite multiple requests for a CT scan, it was only ordered ten days post-operation. The scan revealed a large amount of free air in her abdomen, which led to a second surgery and the discovery of a perforated bowel. This complication resulted in an infection due to the spillage of bowel contents into her abdomen. A jury in Warren County last month found the clinic and the surgeon, along with an unnamed physician, guilty of negligence. They awarded the woman over $13 million for past medical expenses and pain and suffering, and the husband received $8 million in damages.
  • 2022, Kentucky: $150,000 Verdict. A woman was self-conscious about her acne-related upper shoulder and back scarring and hyperpigmentation. She underwent three Intense Pulse Light treatments. The first two treatments provided aesthetic relief. However, the administering registered nurse noticed that the woman experienced significant scarring. She turned up the device’s setting to a level well above manufacturer recommendations. The woman experienced pain immediately after the procedure began. However, she did order for it to be halted. The woman sustained severe burns. She was treated with Silvadene. The woman was diagnosed with over 100 first- and second-degree burns. She experienced two weeks of unbearable pain. The woman could not wear a shirt for five days. She sustained significant scarring. The woman alleged negligence against the RN. She claimed she improperly performed the treatment. The jury awarded $150,000.
  • 2021, Kentucky: $760,827 Verdict. A 50-something woman suffered from severe degenerative hip disease. She underwent a hip replacement. The woman suffered complications, including a chronic fracture. She eventually underwent two revision procedures. The woman alleged negligence against the surgeon. She claimed he performed the procedure while intoxicated. The jury awarded $760,827.
  • 2021, Kentucky: $494,799 Verdict. A 40-something woman underwent an omentopexy and a catheter revision procedure. Several months later, she suffered abdominal pain. The woman presented to the hospital. An X-ray revealed a suture needle. The woman had it surgically removed. She alleged negligence against the surgeon. The woman claimed he negligently left the surgical needle in her abdomen and improperly performed the procedure. A jury awarded $494,799.
  • 2021, Kentucky: $6,925,000 Verdict. A paraplegic man came suffered a large buttock bedsore. He came under the care of two pain management physicians. The man was treated with a pain pump and opioids. He underwent a skin flap procedure in California. The surgery was unsuccessful. He came off the pain pump. The man received a strong level of opioids. Upon returning to Kentucky, a nurse reduced his opioid dose by over 55 percent. The man ran out of medications earlier than expected. He was denied opioid prescriptions right before his follow-up visit. The man experienced excruciating pain. He died from unrelated causes ten days before his follow-up appointment. The man’s family alleged negligence against the healthcare provider. They claimed its staff mismanaged the pain medication doses and failed to provide a bridge prescription. A jury awarded $6,925,000.
  • 2018, Kentucky: $15,000,000 Verdict. A 40-something woman suffered constipation and hematochezia. She received a radiologist referral. The radiologist read her CT scan as normal. Two years later, the woman underwent a colonoscopy. She was diagnosed with Stage IV rectal cancer that spread to her lungs. The woman and her family alleged negligence against the radiology practice. They claimed its radiologist misread her CT scan, delayed her cancer diagnosis, and failed to appreciate her prior rectal cancer diagnosis. The jury awarded $15,000,000.
  • 2017, Kentucky: $400,000 Verdict. A man presented to the emergency room with an open foot wound. He claimed that he suffered a nearly fatal foot infection because of the emergency room doctor’s negligent treatment and care. The physician denied negligence and contested the man’s claimed damages. A Greenup County jury awarded the man $250,000 for past pain and suffering and $150,000 in future pain and suffering.
  • 2017, Kentucky: $509,152 Verdict. A 22-year-old woman underwent a spinal block for her planned C-section. She suffered spinal cord damage, toe paresthesia, and severe nerve pain. The woman alleged that the nurse anesthetist and anesthesiologist mistakenly placed the spinal block at the L1-2 level instead of the L3-L4 level. She argued that their failure to properly identify her spinal anatomy caused her injuries. The nurse anesthetist and anesthesiologist denied liability, arguing that the woman’s pre-existing spina bifida and tethered cord conditions caused her injuries. A McCracken County jury ruled in favor of the woman and awarded her a $509,152 verdict.
  • 2016, Kentucky: $2,261,986 Verdict. A 67-year-old man alleged that he underwent an unnecessary angiogram that worsened his renal disease and led to a right leg amputation. He initially underwent cardiac evaluations to clear him for knee replacement surgery.   The doctor who performed the evaluation found no issues. So far, so good. However, he ordered tests because the man lived a sedentary lifestyle. The tests suggested some ischemia. This was eventually be identified as a false positive. The doctor then referred him to his associate for an angiogram. After 16 minutes, the angiogram showed nothing concerning. Despite the results, the associate continued the procedure for about 75 minutes. Following the angiogram, the man developed blood clots that traveled to his right leg. He would undergo a below-the-knee amputation of his right leg a month later. The man also suffered the worsening of his pre-existing renal disease, which required him to undergo dialysis three years later. He sued the physician and his associate for negligence. The man argued that the angiogram was unnecessary because his prior tests showed no cardiac issues. He alleged that the angiogram took longer than it should have because his arteries showed no issues. The man also claimed the contrast dye worsened his renal disease, while the sheaths and catheters caused the blood clot that led to the amputation of his right leg. The doctors denied the man’s allegations, arguing that the angiogram was necessary to medically clear him for knee replacement surgery. A Warren County jury awarded a $2,261,986 verdict. The man’s wife received $250,000 for her loss of consortium claim, which was included in the verdict.
  • 2014, Kentucky: $1,750,000 Settlement. A 53-year-old woman alleged that her radiologist and pulmonologist failed to diagnose timely her lung cancer, causing it to metastasize. The woman initially underwent a chest X-ray before undergoing spinal surgery. Its results showed an abnormality in her lungs. The woman underwent a CT scan, which the radiologist interpreted as showing pneumonia. She then presented to a pulmonologist, who recommended a follow-up CT scan two months later. The follow-up CT scan’s results showed the same abnormality, which the radiologist interpreted as scar tissue. The pulmonologist failed to receive a copy of the results and did not follow-up. Over three years later, the woman developed a chronic cough with significant sputum. She presented to the pulmonologist and underwent diagnostic tests that revealed a significant lesion in the same area as the initial abnormality. The woman was diagnosed with inoperable metastatic lung cancer. She sued the pulmonologist for causing a delayed diagnosis and failing to follow-up and receive her diagnostic imaging. The woman also sued the radiologist for misinterpreting the first two imaging results. This case settled for $1,750,000.
  • 2014, Kentucky: $18,270,052 Verdict. A mother alleged that the mismanagement of her son’s birth caused him to suffer a permanent brain injury that resulted in cerebral palsy. She alleged that the medical staff administered excessive Pitocin doses, causing uterine tachysystole. The mother also contended that the nursing staff failed to inform the OB/GYN of her son’s abnormal fetal heart rate. She argued that her son suffered fetal distress as a result, causing a permanent brain injury that led to cerebral palsy. The mother also claimed her son would now need round-the-clock medical care for life and would be unable to work. The Barren County jury ruled in favor of the mother and awarded her an $18,270,052 verdict.
  • 2013, Kentucky: $489,919 Verdict. A 60-year-old heart patient’s estate alleged that he died from elevated liver enzymes because his internist and cardiologist mismanaged his care. They contended that the two physicians improperly managed the deceased’s intake of Amiodarone, a heart medication harmful to the liver. The estate alleged that they also improperly monitored the man’s liver enzyme levels and blood tests. The physicians refuted the estate’s claims, arguing that they provided appropriate care. They claimed that they discontinued Amiodarone to determine whether it adversely affected the man. The physicians also argued that the man’s obesity, history of two heart attacks, and a family history of heart disease contributed to his death. A Jefferson County jury awarded the man a $489,919 verdict.

Kentucky Malpractice Law

Below is a summary of some of the most critical laws and procedural rules applicable to Kentucky medical malpractice lawsuits, including the statute of limitations and expert affidavit requirements.

Proving Medical Malpractice in Kentucky

In a Kentucky medical malpractice case, the plaintiff must prove that the treatment given was below the degree of care and skill expected of a reasonably competent practitioner and that the negligence proximately caused the injury or death. The plaintiff also must prove that the negligent medical care was the direct cause of their physical injuries.

Proving both these elements is a complex and expensive process. The plaintiff needs to get other doctors or healthcare providers to agree to act as expert witnesses. Getting an opinion from another doctor that your case is valid is just the first step and does not guarantee success. The defendants will present their experts who will say that the doctors did nothing wrong and your claims have no merit.

Certificate of Merit Required

Under Kentucky law, a plaintiff cannot file a medical malpractice lawsuit unless they first obtain a “certificate of merit” from a qualified expert witness. The certificate of merit is essentially a written opinion from a qualified expert (i.e., another doctor) stating that they have reviewed the facts of the case and in their opinion, medical negligence occurred.  KRS 411.167  requires that the certificate of merit be filed with or immediately after the filing of a medical malpractice complaint.  There has never been a ruling on the constitutionality of this requirement.

Informed Consent

Kentucky informed consent law is primarily established by statute.  KRS 304.40-320 requires that a doctor must obtained informed consent before exposing a patient to the risks associated with a particular medical procedure.

There are two key elements to the Kentucky statute. The requires the doctor’s actions in obtaining the patient’s consent to be within the acceptable standard of practice of the applicable medical specialty.  The doctor must provide the information to tell the patient what a reasonably prudent physician would tell the patient under the same or similar circumstances.

The second requires that the information conveyed to the patient provide a “reasonable” person with a ‘general understanding of the “substantial risks and hazards inherent in the proposed treatment.”  Doctor must satisfy both elements to defeat an informed consent lawsuit.

Malpractice Statute of Limitations

Like all states, Kentucky has a statute of limitations that sets a deadline or time limit on how long plaintiffs can wait before filing medical malpractice cases. In Kentucky, medical malpractice lawsuits must be filed within one year from when the cause of action accrues or when the injury is or reasonably should have been discovered. KRS 413.140(1)(e) and (2).  However, when a prospective plaintiff “dies before the expiration of the time limited for its commencement and the cause of action survives,” the estate  filed a malpractice lawsuit “after the expiration of that time, if commenced within one (1) year after the qualification of the representative.” KRS 413.180(1).

There are very limited exceptions to the statute of limitations in Kentucky such as fraudulent concealment and continuous course of treatment.  These exceptions are rarely invoked by Kentucky courts.

5-Year Statute of Repose

Kentucky also has a 5-year statute of repose that applies to medical malpractice lawsuits. This is an absolute maximum deadline that applies over and above the 2-year statute of limitations. Under the statute of repose, all malpractice claims must be filed within 5 years of the date of the injury caused by medical negligence, regardless of when the injury was discovered.

What if the Plaintiff is Partly At Fault?

In medical malpractice cases in which the plaintiff’s own negligence is partly to blame for their injuries, Kentucky courts apply the legal rule known as comparative fault. Under comparative fault, a plaintiff’s damages are reduced by their percentage share of fault. So if a plaintiff is found to be 10% at-fault for their own injuries, their damages would be reduced by 10%.

No Caps on Damages in Kentucky Malpractice Cases

Kentucky does not have any statutory maximum caps or limits on the amount of damages that plaintiffs can be awarded in medical malpractice cases.

Contact Us About a Kentucky Medical Malpractice Case

The national medical malpractice lawyers at Miller & Zois handle malpractice cases in Kentucky by partnering with local counsel. We split the fees with our local Kentucky counsel so this comes at no additional cost to the client. If you have a Kentucky malpractice case, contact us today at 800-553-8082.




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