Motorcycles were involved in 1,460 crashes in 2020 in Kentucky. Although motorcycles represent only less than 1% of vehicles involved in accidents, they account for 7% of all fatal collisions. The statistics are not surprising since the only protection you have on a motorcycle is a helmet, if you choose to wear one.
Motorcycle crash injuries tend to be catastrophic, if not deadly. Lives change forever in a second. If this has happened to you or a member of your family, you may be able to hold a negligent party accountable.
At the Law Offices of John Schmidt & Associates, we are dedicated to helping individuals and their families struggling with injuries and death after motorcycle accidents. We help clients in Shepherdsville, Louisville, Radcliff, Elizabethtown, Mount Washington, and Jeffersontown, Kentucky find a way to move forward.
Steps to take After a Motorcycle Accident
Insurance companies are motivated to deny and devalue claims against their insureds. After all, paying little or nothing to victims makes their bottom line more profitable.
Insurance adjusters and attorneys will work diligently to reduce or negate personal injury and wrongful death claims, especially when a motorcycle is involved. You can elevate your case by taking these steps:
Getting all necessary medical treatment for your injuries right away
Obtaining pertinent information from the other driver and witnesses
Using your cell phone to take photos of all vehicles involved
Obtaining copies of documents such as your medical records and the crash report
Recording your own recollection of what happened
Contacting your motorcycle insurance carrier
Retaining a Kentucky motorcycle accident lawyer
Kentucky’s Motorcycle Laws
Everyone using a Kentucky roadway is supposed to take reasonable care to keep others safe, no matter what type of vehicle they are operating. However, there are some state laws specific to motorcycles, including:
Having a valid a motorcycle license
Using approved eye protection
Having the required rear-view mirror
Coverage of at least liability insurance if operating a motorcycle on highways, with minimum limits of $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident
Allowing passengers only if the motorcycle is designed to accommodate one, with footrests for the operator and passenger
Wearing a helmet if under the age of 21. Those older who have had a valid motorcycle license for at least one year are not required to wear one. Passengers ages 21 and older do not need to wear a helmet if the operator is not required to.
Lane splitting, which is operating a motorcycle between two lanes of traffic moving in the same direction, is a gray area under Kentucky law. No laws make lane splitting legal or illegal, so some motorcycle operators do it.
Who is at Fault in a Crash?
Kentucky is a choice no-fault auto insurance state. “Choice” means vehicle owners can opt out of the no-fault system so they can sue a person who causes a crash. Otherwise, those injured in accidents use their own insurance coverage to pay for medical treatment and other damages, unless they meet certain thresholds.
If the injury victim’s medical bills exceed $1,000 or the accident caused permanent disfigurement or injury, fractured a weight-bearing bone, or caused a compound, displace, or compressed fracture of any bone, or resulted in a permanent loss of any body function, the victim is still allowed to sue the negligent driver.
Kentucky is also a pure comparative fault state. If you are partially responsible for an accident, your financial recovery will be reduced proportionately. For example, suppose you are held 20% at fault and the other driver is 80% responsible. If a jury awards $20,000 to you, you would receive $16,000 because 20% of $20,000 is $4,000.
What if My Family Member Died or Suffered Catastrophic Injuries?
Sometimes, a loved one suffers such severe injuries they lack the mental capacity to pursue a personal injury claim. In this case, a family member can petition the court to be appointed a “next friend” or conservator to file a claim for the injured person.
If the person died due to crash-related injuries, the personal representative of their estate can file a wrongful death action. If the decedent had no will, the court appoints a representative, often a surviving spouse or adult child. The estate would receive any financial compensation which would then be distributed among its heirs.
The Importance of Skilled Advocacy
Motorcycle operators are rarely given the benefit of the doubt in an accident. There is often an assumption that they are “wild” and do not drive with the care required by law. Furthermore, since there is no law specifically addressing lane splitting in Kentucky, insurance companies and their attorneys will use the act against a victim if they were lane splitting when the crash occurred.
An experienced and knowledgeable motorcycle accident lawyer like John Schmidt knows how to fight insurance companies with investigative reports, witness statements and deposition testimony, expert testimony, and evidence of liability.