By Kyle Roby
Attorney and Partner
English, Lucas, Priest and Owsley, LLP
Each state has its own rules as to how to handle a case in which both the plaintiff and the defendant are alleged to have been negligent in causing an accident. In a Kentucky car wreck case, the law of pure comparative fault applies. (In some other states, the rule may be modified comparative fault or pure contributory negligence.)
Under the doctrine of pure comparative fault followed in Kentucky, the plaintiff can recover money damages from the defendant as long as he or she is not found to be 100% at fault; however, he or she is only entitled to recover the percentage of total damages attributed to the defendant’s negligence.
Such cases are often hotly contested, since each party may try to pin all or most of the blame for the crash on the other side.
Facts of the Case
In a recent unpublished case from the Commonwealth of Kentucky Court of Appeals, the plaintiff was a man who was riding a bicycle on a sidewalk that ran parallel with the road when he was struck by a motorcycle operated by the defendant. At the time of the crash, the plaintiff was proceeding through an unmarked crosswalk at an intersection. The plaintiff filed suit in circuit court, seeking compensation for his injuries. The case was tried to a jury, which apportioned fault 55% to the defendant and 45% to the plaintiff. This resulted in a net verdict of $98,158 in compensatory damages to the plaintiff. The defendant appealed.
Decision of the Court
The appellate court affirmed. The court first observed that the trial court judge submitted the case to the jury upon a theory of comparative negligence and that the jury found both parties to be negligent. The court then determined that the trial court did not commit a reversible error in failing to instruct the jury that the plaintiff had a statutory duty to yield to the defendant or in not telling the jury that the plaintiff had a duty under a local ordinance to refrain from riding his bicycle on the sidewalk.
While the city did have an ordinance prohibiting the riding of bicycles on sidewalks by persons of a certain age, the court found that this statute was “obviously intended” to protect pedestrians who might be sharing the sidewalk, rather than persons driving a motor vehicle on a public roadway as the defendant in this case was doing. Since the defendant was not within the class of persons intended to be protected by the ordinance, and there was no evidence that the plaintiff’s riding of the bicycle on the sidewalk was a substantial factor in causing the accident on the roadway, the trial court had no duty to instruct the jury that the plaintiff had breached his duty of ordinary care.
Speak to an Attorney About Your Case
If you have been involved in a car wreck, you should talk to an experienced Kentucky intersection accident attorney about your case. To schedule an appointment with English, Lucas, Priest & Owsley, LLP, call us at 270-781-6500. We offer a free consultation at our conveniently located offices in Bowling Green, Kentucky. We accept many cases on a contingency fee contract, allowing an injured person to get started on a case without paying a legal fee upfront.
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