When two vehicles get into an accident, many have an idea of what’s to follow. Drivers will call insurance companies, and those involved will try to determine who was at fault for the accident.
What happens if you are riding your bike or going for a jog and you are hit by a car? Hopefully it’s just a scare but oftentimes the pedestrian or cyclist is seriously injured and they need immediate medical attention. What kind of insurance will cover these lesser-protected individuals on the road? What responsibilities do pedestrians and cyclists have to keep others safe on the road?
The Responsibilities of Bicyclists
According to 601 KAR 1:113, bicycles are treated the same as any other vehicle on the road. Under this regulation, cyclists must:
Obey all traffic laws and signs;
Keep to the right side of the road;
Have one hand on the handlebars at all times;
Carry only the number of passengers the bicycle is designed for;
Exercise due care when passing a stopped vehicle or one traveling in the same direction;
Ride no more than two bicycles side-by-side in a single lane;
Ride bicycles equipped with proper safety equipment such as lights and reflectors when dark; and
Ride bicycles with a horn, bell, or another audio device.
When a cyclist has broken any of these laws, they may be found negligent, as negligence is not showing due care or acting unreasonably.
The Responsibilities of Pedestrians
Many people mistakenly believe that drivers must always give pedestrians the right-of-way. This is not always true. While drivers are expected to watch for pedestrians and take every necessary action to avoid hitting them, pedestrians are also governed by certain rules of the road. These laws are covered by Section 189.570 of the Kentucky Revised Statutes. Under this statute, pedestrians must:
Leave a curb or place of safety safely and not suddenly walk or run into the path of a vehicle;
Cross an intersection only vertically or horizontally, not diagonally;
Walk on a sidewalk when available; and
Walk on the left-hand side, facing traffic, when traveling on a two-lane highway.
In addition to these rules, pedestrians are also prohibited from hitchhiking. If they are found negligent, they may also be found partially responsible in an accident.
The Responsibilities of Drivers
Drivers must follow all traffic laws, including signage, while on the road. They must also take great care to keep everyone around them safe. A new law in Kentucky, House Bill 33, created an additional law for drivers. This law states that when possible, drivers must move into the lane farthest from the cyclist when traveling in the same direction and passing the bicycle.
In Kentucky, drivers are required to carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance at all times, but if you use a bike to get around instead of owning a car then there is no such responsibility.
Insurance Issues in Pedestrian and Cyclist Accidents
Between drivers, cyclists, and pedestrians, owners of vehicles are the only ones required to carry insurance on Kentucky’s roads. Due to this, any time a pedestrian or cyclist is in an accident with a vehicle, they should file a claim through the driver’s PIP auto insurance to claim accident benefits for their injuries, instead of their own insurance. When two vehicles are involved in a bad accident then each driver would go through the insurance associated with the car they were driving for, at least, the first $10,000.00 to pay for medical bills, regardless of fault. After that, most medical bills will need to be covered by the insurance company for the at fault driver’s car under their liability policy. The minimum liability policy in Kentucky is $25,000.00 but many drivers have more insurance than that. If your claim is entitled to max out the liability policy then you should file a claim with your insurance under your Under-Insured Motorist policy. You are not required to max out the liability policy to file a UIM claim in Kentucky. If you anticipate filing a Underinsured Motorist claim then it is important to first send your insurance company a letter pursuant to Coots v. Allstate Insurance Company so that the UIM insurance company may protect its subrogation rights. Failure to do this properly can cause an injured person to lose their ability to recover on their own UIM policy altogether.
However, both the insurance company and the driver will try to prove that the pedestrian or cyclist was at fault somehow for the accident by arguing that the person traveling by foot or by bicycle failed to pay adequate attention or that they acted negligently. The insurance companies have systems in place to prevent their drivers from being considered to have been at fault for any accident. These systems include bias investigations, attempting to get you to consent to a recorded telephone conversation in which they can ask questions designed to get you to imply you were at fault, attorneys and experts on retainer to defend against claims (even claims they should unquestionably pay), and much more. Understand that when you file an insurance claim, you are going up against these tried and true insurance defense systems run by insurance professional. It’s very important you retain your own insurance professional.
Kentucky is governed by a comparative negligence rule. Under this statute, when two or more people are involved in an accident, they can file a lawsuit to claim compensation against the at-fault party. However, when there is more than one person at fault for the accident, any compensation awarded to the injured individual will be reduced by their percentage of fault.
For example, if a pedestrian gets into an accident with a vehicle and is hurt, the pedestrian may file a lawsuit against the driver. The court may find that the driver was 75 percent at fault if the driver was speeding at the time. If however, the pedestrian also jumped off the sidewalk unlawfully and wasn’t at a crosswalk, the court may find the pedestrian 25 percent at fault. Therefore, if the pedestrian was awarded $50,000 for their injuries, it would be reduced by 25 percent. The pedestrian would then receive $37,500.
Contact a Kentucky Bicycle Accident Lawyer Who Can Help
Accidents involving vehicles and pedestrians or bicycles can become extremely complicated, with multiple considerations to take into account to get back to your best life. It is important that anyone involved in an accident speaks to a Kentucky pedestrian accident lawyer who can help them claim the most amount of compensation for their injuries so that they can be made whole again. If we could, we would give you your health back. Instead, we are able to help maximize your insurance claim to recover a full claim payment under Kentucky law.
If you’ve been hurt, call the Morrin Law Office at (859) 358-0300. We know how difficult it can be. While you’re trying to recover from your injuries, we will conduct an investigation, speak to the insurance company on your behalf, and file all the necessary paperwork. You may be entitled to compensation so call today, and let us help you get it!