The beginning of spring brings with it the promise of warmer weather and more time outdoors for Kansans. For many, that means more time to spend walking, jogging, or bicycling. Unfortunately, those activities pose some risks, particularly when you throw vehicular traffic into the mix.
To help understand those risks, how to protect against them, and what legal remedies may be available following an accident, here are three things everyone should know about pedestrian and bicycle accidents in Kansas:
1. Pedestrian and Bicycle Accidents Are Rare, But Dangerous
According to KDOT statistics, there were 61,844 traffic crashes in Kansas during 2016. Of these, 876 involved pedestrians or bicyclists, or only 1.5% of all crashes.
Yet, although such accidents are rare, they are more dangerous than other types of accidents. Of all motor vehicle accidents in 2016, about 22% caused injuries, and less than 1% caused death.
In contrast, nearly 90% of accidents involving pedestrians or bicyclists caused injury, and more than 5% caused death. Looked at another way, although pedestrian or bicycle crashes accounted for just 1.5% of all crashes in Kansas, they caused nearly 6% of crash-related injuries, and more than 10% of all crash-related deaths.
2. Bicyclists and Pedestrians Can Be at Fault in an Accident
One fact that surprises some people is that a pedestrian or bicyclist can be at fault or share fault in causing an accident. Many remember all the duties they had to learn while reading the Kansas Driving Handbook before obtaining a license. But Kansas law also imposes duties on pedestrians and bicyclists.
For instance, pedestrians must:
• Walk on a sidewalk if one is available.
• Otherwise, walk on the left side of the road.
• Follow all traffic signals.
And bicyclists must:
• Follow the pedestrian rules if on a sidewalk.
• Follow the rules for vehicles if on the road.
• Use appropriate lamps and reflectors for night riding.
A pedestrian or bicyclist who doesn't follow those rules, or otherwise negligently contributes to causing an accident, can be found at fault or partially at fault in that accident.
3. Injured Pedestrians and Bicyclists Can Recover Damages
Those injured by no fault of their own while walking or biking can often recover for both property damage and personal injuries. Property damage might include things like a damaged bicycle, cell phone, or clothing. Personal injuries can lead to recovery of past and future medical expenses, past and future lost wages, pain and suffering, and other types of damages.
Part of the recovery for personal injuries may come in the form of PIP benefits, or the “no-fault” portion of automobile insurance. If the pedestrian or bicyclist has an insured vehicle, then her or his own automobile insurance may cover those damages. Otherwise, the driver's PIP coverage may extend to the injured person.
If a pedestrian or bicyclist is found to be 49% or less at fault for causing an accident, he or she may be successful in bringing a negligence claim for damages against the driver. It is important to contact an experienced attorney who can guide you through this complicated process and lead you to a maximum recovery.
Pedestrian and Bicyclist Safety is Everyone's Responsibility
With warmer weather on the way, and Kansans spending more time outdoors, we should all be mindful of those around us, whether in an automobile, on a bicycle, or on foot. That way, we can help protect each other from injury while out and about and protect ourselves from liability for causing an accident.