What to do if you’re hit by a car while walking in the Bluegrass State
Louisville is ranked “bronze level” by Walk Friendly Communities as a city that shows a commitment to improving and sustaining walkability and pedestrian safety.
Northern Kentucky, in particular, has been lauded as a region that is robust with both young adults and empty nesters who are enjoying waterfront activities, other types of leisure amenities, and walkable and bikeable neighborhoods. (source)
It’s great that more people are walking to get places — it’s excellent exercise, reduces strain on the environment, costs you nothing, and is enjoyable.
But accidents can and do happen.
- 80 pedestrians killed
- 173 suffered a suspected serious injury
- 405 suffered a suspected minor injury
- 299 had a possible injury
In fact, 12% of all vehicle crashes involved pedestrians.
Types of Kentucky pedestrian injuries
There are several ways you could get hurt while walking in Kentucky.
It should be noted that someone is a “pedestrian” any time they are outside their vehicle. In other words, you are a pedestrian whether you’re in a parking lot, on a sidewalk, in a crosswalk, or anywhere else where you’re legally permitted, whether it’s public or private property. A person in a wheelchair is also a pedestrian.
The most obvious type of pedestrian injury is when a person on foot is hit by a moving vehicle. This could be a car, truck, or bicycle. Unfortunately, a pedestrian is far more likely to be injured than the occupant of a car because the driver is largely protected by the car itself and a pedestrian has no protection at all.
Premises liability accidents
Premises liability is the area of law that covers injuries caused by a defective property condition. This might include falling on a damaged sidewalk, tripping on broken steps, an injury from stepping in a hole, being hit by falling tree branches or items that fall from windows or buildings, or similar incidents.
If you’re injured as a result of property conditions, you can file a claim against the property owner or manager to cover the cost of your injuries.
If you’re injured on a road maintained by a government agency, you file a claim against the Kentucky Claims Commission (KCC). However, there are certain restrictions on the types of claims:
- The KCC will not hear claims that involve a collateral or dependent person (i.e. not the person who was injured), except if it is a wrongful death claim.
- Claims for damages for mental distress or pain and suffering are prohibited.
Damages can be reduced if the injured plaintiff is receiving workers’ compensation, Social Security disability payments, unemployment benefits, or payments from medical, disability, or life insurance as related to the injury.
You generally have 1 year to file a claim against the government in Kentucky, and damages are limited to $200,000 per claim.
However, if your claim is against a local government like a city, county, or other municipality, it would go against their own entity through their own process. You would need to find out how to file a claim in that specific municipality.
Kentucky pedestrian laws
The keys to keeping everyone safe is for both pedestrians and drivers to respect each other’s use of the road, to be aware and alert, and to be familiar with relevant laws.
Kentucky pedestrian laws include:
- Vehicle to yield the right-of-way. If there are no traffic signals, the driver must slow or stop for a pedestrian crossing the road.
- No passing from the rear. If a vehicle is stopped at a marked or unmarked crosswalk to allow a pedestrian to cross, another driver approaching from the rear may not pass the stopped vehicle.
- A pedestrian will yield right-of-way outside of crosswalks. A pedestrian who is crossing outside of a marked crosswalk OR within an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection must yield to vehicles.
- A pedestrian must choose a marked crossing area. If there’s a pedestrian tunnel or overhead pedestrian crossing, the pedestrian must yield the right-of-way to vehicles on the road.
- A driver must exercise due care. Drivers are responsible for avoiding a collision with a pedestrian. If there’s a pedestrian, they should sound the horn if necessary and use proper caution, particularly if the person is a child or a seemingly incapacitated person.
- A vehicle may not be driven through a safety zone. All drivers must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians on the sidewalk or specially marked areas.
- A pedestrian must exercise caution. A pedestrian is not permitted to leave a curb or sidewalk to walk or run into a vehicle’s path if the car is dangerously close.
- A pedestrian may not cross diagonally. It’s only permissible to cross an intersection diagonally if there’s a traffic control device that specifically directs it.
- Cross on the right side of a crosswalk. Pedestrians should stay to the right inside of a crosswalk so that pedestrians moving in the opposite direction may pass freely.
- You must use a sidewalk where one is provided. A pedestrian is not permitted to walk next to a sidewalk in the road.
- A pedestrian must not be on the road if they are impaired by drugs or alcohol. Just like you are not permitted to drink and drive, you also must remain safe as a pedestrian. You are not permitted to be under the influence “to a degree which renders himself a hazard” on the road, except on a sidewalk.
- A pedestrian may not be on a bridge after the operation signal has been given. You may not pass through, around, over, or under a crossing gate or barrier when it is being opened or closed.
- A driver must yield the right-of-way to a blind pedestrian. If a person is using a visible white cane or accompanied by a service animal, a driver must yield.
Who is liable in a Kentucky pedestrian accident?
If you were injured in a Kentucky pedestrian accident, your financial recovery will depend on who was liable, or at fault, for the injury.
All Kentucky drivers are required to have auto insurance that covers a minimum of $25,000 in bodily injury insurance for 1 person. If a driver strikes a pedestrian who does not have insurance, their Personal Injury Protection (PIP) insurance will cover the pedestrian’s injuries.
However, if your injuries are not fully covered by the driver’s insurance (or if the driver is uninsured), you might need to file a lawsuit.
Kentucky’s pure comparative negligence rule
Kentucky follows a pure comparative negligence standard. Under this rule, damages recovered by a plaintiff will be reduced according to the plaintiff’s percentage of fault.
Just because you’re the pedestrian doesn’t mean you don’t have any fault for an accident (or that you couldn’t have prevented the accident).
Here’s an example:
At the same time, Amy stepped into the crosswalk but stopped suddenly because her phone rang and she paused to grab it out of her pocket. Because she had her AirPods in, she didn’t hear the car approaching and she wasn’t really paying attention to the light.
Josh hit Amy and she was severely injured. She didn’t have insurance since she is not a car owner, so she sued him for the cost of her damages in the amount of $100,000.
The court found that even though Josh had been speeding and should have been stopping for the light, Amy was also negligent because she was not paying attention to traffic signals or approaching traffic. Amy was determined to be 40% liable, so the court reduced her damage award to $60,000.
Pedestrian accident damages
Financial loss (also called “damages”) that can be compensated after a pedestrian-vehicle accident includes:
- Medical treatment, including doctor or hospital visits, prescription medications, surgery, diagnostics like X-rays or MRI, and other items
- Assistive devices like crutches, wheelchairs, hearing aids, and prosthetics
- Ongoing occupational, physical, or other therapies
- Pain and suffering or mental distress
- Lost wages or loss of future earning capacity
- Funeral and burial expenses if the injured person has died
- Wrongful death claims if you’ve lost a family member in a fatal pedestrian accident
10 safety tips for pedestrians
- Always cross at a corner or intersection and use a marked crosswalk where available.
- Yield the right-of-way to a vehicle if crossing where there’s not a marked crosswalk.
- Before crossing, look left, then right, then left again to check for cars.
- Walk facing traffic.
- Obey traffic signals and walk signs.
- Be alert — don’t text or be occupied on your phone while walking.
- If you’re wearing a listening device, either keep 1 ear “free” or the volume low enough that you can still hear outside noise like traffic.
- Wear reflective clothing when walking at night and carry a flashlight.
- Avoid walking while intoxicated; impairment can increase your risk of being hit by a car.
- Walk on the sidewalk or designated walking area where one is available. If there isn’t a sidewalk, stay as far to the left as possible.
What to do if you’re injured in a pedestrian accident in Kentucky
- Seek medical help. Call 911 for medical help. If you’re unable to do so, ask a driver or bystander to call for you.It’s important to get a medical examination as soon as possible, even if you think your injuries are so minor that you don’t require treatment. Visit your doctor, an urgent care center or a hospital. Symptoms of some injuries might not appear for days or weeks after the accident, so documenting your condition immediately after the accident is crucial for an insurance settlement or legal claim.
- Call the police. A police report is essential and should contain the driver’s information, the facts of the accident, a description of the scene, and other information that will be important to your claim.
It doesn’t necessarily mean the person will face any charges, especially if they weren’t violating any traffic laws. But don’t let them convince you that a police report isn’t necessary. It’s your right (and for your own protection) to get one.
- Obtain witness contact information. Witnesses can be the most valuable tool in a legal claim. Take each witness’s name, phone number, and email address.
- Document the scene. If you’re able to do so, take photos of the road conditions, traffic signals, any damage to the vehicle, and other factors that might have affected the accident.
- Contact a car accident lawyer. A lawyer has access to reconstruction experts, financial professionals, medical experts, and other experts who can bolster your claim for relief.