Bicycle riders have always faced increased risks of injury and death on the roads of America. Now, a series of recent studies have found the risks to be higher than ever. While certain risk factors can be identified and mitigated, the fact remains that many Louisville bicyclists will be injured every year.
Injured bicyclists often have the legal right to be compensated for their injuries and losses.
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, bicyclists face some of the most troubling accident statistics on the roadway. After reaching an all-time low in 2010, United States bicycle fatalities have been steadily on the rise. 2015 saw the largest increase in bicycle fatalities in two decades. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that, while bicycle riding only accounts for about one percent of trips in the United States, bicyclists face a higher risk of injury or death than motor vehicle occupants. This is largely due to the added protection a vehicle affords to its occupants. Interestingly, men were found to be nearly six times more likely than women to be killed in a bicycle accident. It remains to be seen whether this is due to more aggressive riding habits by male cyclists, or simply because there are more male cyclists on the road. Regardless, male riders should be aware that they face increased risks on the road, and use particular caution while riding a bicycle.
What Bikers Can Do to Stay Safe on the Road
Beyond simply reporting bicycle accident rates, the Governors Highway Safety Association has also analyzed the data to identify risk factors which contribute to these accidents. In the majority of accidents, a motor vehicle driver failed to identify the bicyclist. Bicyclists are more likely to see the motor vehicle before a collision, but expect the driver to yield the right of way. This demonstrates the importance of attentiveness to roadway conditions - an attentiveness that must be shared by all roadway users. Bicyclists should take measures to ensure they are seen in the roadway. Bells and lights should be used as needed to alert drivers to the presence of a bicyclists. Reflective clothing, tape, head lights, and bike reflectors should be used at night and during other times of poor visibility. Bicyclists should never assume that a driver will yield the right of way - even when the driver is legally required to do so. Slow down, make eye contact with the driver, and only proceed with caution when the driver has come to a complete stop. Bicyclists should also use particular caution in parking lots. Drivers have often diverted their attention to the task of backing up or parking, and this can make it even more difficult to see nearby bicyclists.
Alcohol is another factor which contributes to bicycle accidents. While alcohol impairment has decreased among bicycle accidents, it has not declined as quickly as alcohol use among automobile operators. This indicates that the effective media campaigns and advocacy efforts of drunk driving opponents have yet to reach the bicyclist population.
Like motor vehicle drivers, bicyclists must accept personal responsibility for avoiding both impairment and distractions while on the road. However, comparative fault will not bar a claim for damages in Kentucky, which is a pure comparative fault state. That means even if you are 99 percent at-fault, you can still collect damages on the other 1 percent. Ideally, your attorney will be able to make a strong case for minimal comparative fault, which will increase the damages to which you are entitled.
Contact an experienced Louisville bicycle accident attorney as soon as possible after any motor vehicle accident. He or she will work to secure fair compensation for your injuries and losses.