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Kentucky Abandons Physical Impact Requirement for Recovery of Emotional Distress Damages



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Earlier this month, the Kentucky Supreme Court made a significant change in recoverable damages.  Businesses, employers and insurance companies that provide coverage in Kentucky should take note of Osborne v. Keeney, 2012 WL 6634129 (Dec. 20, 2012). 

Physical impact is no longer necessary for a claim of fright, shock or mental anguish.  Kentucky has joined the majority of states in the nation allowing an emotional distress claim even if a plaintiff is not struck, hit or physically contacted as a result of a defendant’s wrongdoing.  Now in Kentucky, a plaintiff must only present evidence of negligence (duty; breach; injury; and causation), plus “severe” or “serious” emotional injury proven by expert medical or scientific proof.  The Osborne Court noted reasonable concerns that the rule change may cause a “potential flood of litigation,” but doubted the “flood” would materialize.  We will see.

Click here to read the entire decision. 

Please contact any of our Kentucky-licensed litigators to discuss this case, or any aspect of Kentucky law.