According to National Safety Council statistics, 1,089 bicyclists died nationwide in 2019 (712 in collisions with automobiles), while nonfatal injuries totaled 308,864.
Here in Kentucky, the League of American Bicyclists ranks the commonwealth 49th out of 50 states on its safety report card, calling for the creation of “safe and convenient bicycle networks.”
Both state and local laws govern bicycle use in Kentucky, which considers the bicycle to be a vehicle using muscle power instead of a gasoline engine or electric motor. Thus, a bicyclist must conform to all the rules of the road and laws governing motorized vehicles, with some specific add-ons.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident in or around Shepherdsville, or nearby in Louisville, Elizabethtown, Jeffersontown, Mount Washington, or Radcliff, Kentucky, contact us at the Law Offices of John Schmidt & Associates. We will listen to your case, investigate, advise you of your options, and help you pursue the just compensation you deserve.
Kentucky Laws Pertaining to Bicycles
As mentioned above, a bicycle is considered another vehicle on the road, according to Kentucky law, so bicyclists are obliged to obey all the laws that automobiles do with some add-ons and exceptions.
Bicyclists must obey all traffic stops, signals, and lane markings, but Kentucky does observe what is referred to as the “Idaho stop law.” This gives a bicyclist permission to go through a stoplight if the light fails to detect the bicycle because its weight is too low for the sensor to detect it.
Kentucky also allows bicyclists to ride on sidewalks and other pathways that pedestrians use, but they can only go the speed of the pedestrians and must give the pedestrians the right of way. Localities may have different restrictions in place, however.
Bicyclists must keep to the right when traveling with other vehicles unless they need to make a left turn, pass a slower vehicle, or avoid colliding with another vehicle. There is also no mandated safe distance that bicyclists must observe, and bicyclists can ride side by side — but only if they are just two abreast.
Kentucky also has laws regarding the bicycle’s equipment. At night, either the bicycle or the rider must have a front light visible from at least 50 feet away. The bicycle must also have a rear light or reflector visible from at least 100 feet away, or a flashing red light visible from 500 feet away. The bicycle must also have a bell, horn, or another noise-making device (that isn’t a siren or whistle). There is also a one-rider-per-seat rule.
There is no state law mandating that bicyclists wear helmets, but local ordinances may vary.
What to Do After a Bicycle Accident
If you’re involved in an accident with another vehicle, the first thing you need to do is call 911 and report it to the police and seek medical assistance if needed. While at the scene, and if you’re physically able, use your cell phone to take as many pictures as possible, including any road signs that may indicate the driver failed to observe the law. If there are witnesses, try to get their statements and contact information. Most importantly, get the driver’s insurance and contact information.
If the police show up and do an investigation, try to get a copy of their report once it is filed. This might prove an essential document for any claim you make. Likewise, if and when you get medical attention, retain all documents for proof of your claim. Also, record or write down the details of the accident as soon as you get a chance.
Even if you don’t feel that injured, always get a medical evaluation. Your injuries may not surface until hours, days, or even weeks later, but you need to show that you were concerned from the beginning — at the time of the accident — as evidence to back up your personal injury claim.
If you are injured, you probably have a valid claim against the at-fault driver, so contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss the details of what happened and to weigh your options for seeking compensation.
Filing a Claim
First, you must establish that the driver of the vehicle that hit you was at fault – that his or her negligence resulted in your injuries. Even though Kentucky is a no-fault auto insurance state requiring that those injured in accidents rely on their own coverage first, in a bicycle accident the other driver’s personal injury protection (PIP) policy often covers collisions with bicyclists (though this coverage can be waived).
If the at-fault driver’s PIP does not cover your injuries, then you will need to file a personal injury lawsuit. Under Kentucky law, you have two years from the date of the accident to bring legal action. A claim against the driver’s insurance, however, must be filed almost immediately
Kentucky also observes a legal standard known as “pure comparative negligence”. This means that a jury, or even an insurance claims adjuster, will assess a percentage of fault for all parties involved in the accident.
Say you were rear-ended by a vehicle at night, but your bicycle lacked the proper reflector on the rear. The jury or adjuster may find you to have been 40% at fault (or more or less). Your settlement or award in court will then be reduced by that percentage. If the full compensation is set at $10,000, you would receive only $6,000.
Why You Need an Attorney
Don’t go against the insurance company yourself. Their claims adjusters will use every trick in the book to get you to say or admit to something that they can use to pin the fault on you, so they can lowball or deny your settlement. Rely on an experienced bicycle accidents attorney to deal with the insurers.
When a lawsuit is warranted, an attorney can gather the facts and evidence to help prove the vehicle’s driver failed to exercise the “duty of care” necessary to avoid colliding with you and causing you injuries. Proving negligence is the key to winning a personal injury lawsuit.