Bicycle accidents tend to happen with alarming regularity in Michigan. Data from the Office of Highway Safety Planning (OHSP) shows that in 2020, a total of 1,235 bicyclists were involved in motor vehicle accidents. Out of these, 38 were killed and 147 suffered serious injuries.
The Most Common Causes of Michigan Bicycle Accidents
Data shows that in accidents involving a motor vehicle and a bicycle, it is the motorist who is more likely to be at fault. Many motorists do not know or do not care about the fact that under Michigan law, cyclists have the same rights and responsibilities that motorists have.
The most common causes of accidents involving bicycles and motor vehicles include:
- Distracted driving
- Impaired driving
- Fatigued driving
- Aggressive or reckless driving
- Running a red light
- Failing to yield the right of way to the cyclist
- Failing to maintain a distance of 3 to 5 feet while passing a bicycle
- Failing to look for cyclists – especially at intersections and while changing lanes
- Failing to look for oncoming cyclists before opening the door of a parked vehicle
The most common examples of cyclist negligence that can lead to an accident include:
- Talking on the phone while riding the bike
- Riding too close along the side of a motor vehicle
- Following a motor vehicle too closely
- Riding a bike under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Suing a Government Agency in Michigan
In some cases, bicycle accidents can be caused by defective road conditions. When it happens, you have the right to bring a claim against the government agency responsible for maintaining the roadway. Similarly, if you are injured by a government-owned vehicle, you can file a claim against the agency that the vehicle in question operates under.
Generally, Michigan residents do not have the right to sue the government – due to the doctrine of sovereign immunity. In relation to this, there are a few circumstances under which you might be able to sue the government for negligence. These include:
- Failing to maintain public roads in good condition
- Failing to maintain public sidewalks in good condition
- Failing to maintain public buildings in good condition
- Medical malpractice
- Negligent operation of vehicles belonging to state or local government agencies
- Failing to fix defective sewage systems
The Most Common Types of Injuries that Can Result from a Bicycle Accident
When a bicycle and a motor vehicle collide with each other, it is the cyclist who stands to suffer debilitating and life-threatening injuries. Cyclists have virtually no protection – apart from their helmets. In the event of a collision with a motor vehicle, a cyclist could get thrown off their bike, hit the windshield of the vehicle, hit any other oncoming vehicle, or hit any other stationary object nearby – all of which can result in serious or even fatal injuries.
The most common injuries you can suffer in a bicycle-motor vehicle collision include:
- Facial injuries (including contusions and fractures)
- Injuries to the neck and back
- Injuries to the spinal cord
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Crush injuries
- Traumatic amputation resulting in limb loss
- Nerve damage
- Injuries to internal organs
What You Should Do If You Are Injured in a Bicycle Accident in Michigan
Get Medical Help
Following a bike accident, your topmost priority should be to get medical assistance as quickly as you can. Even if you are not in pain and do not have any visible injuries, you should still get examined by a doctor.
When you are involved in an accident, you might not be able to feel any pain due to the surge of adrenaline in your body. Furthermore, certain types of injuries might not be visible or cause any pain right away. So, you should not take any chances and get medical help as quickly as possible.
Any delay in getting medical help can not only worsen your injuries, but also affect your chances of recovering compensation from the at-fault party. This is because the at-fault party’s insurance company can easily make the argument that your injuries are not as extensive or serious as you claim to be since you did not even bother to get medical help right away.
Report the Accident
Call 911 right away and request medical assistance. When the authorities arrive at the scene, tell them exactly what happened without adding, omitting, overplaying, or downplaying any detail related to the accident.
Get the At-Fault Motorist’s License and Insurance Details
Get the at-fault motorist’s name, phone number, address, driver’s license number, license plate number, and auto insurance details. Do not apologize to them or say anything that could be considered an admission of fault.
Get Witnesses’ Contact Information
Find out if another motorist, pedestrian, store owner, or anyone else in the surrounding area happened to witness the accident. If someone did, note down their name, address, and phone number.
Take Photos of the Accident Scene
One of the most important things you need to do following a bike accident is to take photos of the accident scene. Photographic evidence can be extremely helpful in documenting the extent of injuries and property damage you suffered in the accident.
You should take pictures – as many as possible and from as many angles as possible – of the following things.
- Your injuries
- Your bicycle
- Personal items damaged in the accident (if any)
- The at-fault motorist’s vehicle
- The at-fault motorist’s license plate
- Nearby traffic signs (if any)
- Damage to objects in and around the accident scene
- Visible signs of the accident including broken glass and tire marks
Contact an Experienced Michigan Bicycle Accident Lawyer
Bike accidents can result in catastrophic injuries that can leave you disabled or disfigured. Unless you have effective legal representation, you might not be able to recover an adequate amount of compensation from the at-fault motorist.
In order to maximize your chances of obtaining the compensation you deserve, you should hire a lawyer who has represented bicycle accident victims before and has sufficient litigation experience.
File for No-Fault Benefits
Under Michigan law, injured cyclists can file a no-fault insurance claim with their own auto insurance provider and receive compensation. These benefits might include:
- Allowable expenses (expenses related to your treatment and rehabilitation)
- Wage loss benefits (a portion of your gross pay for a period of up to three years)
- Replacement services (expenses associated with hiring people to perform household chores)
The problem with a no-fault claim is that the compensation you receive might not even cover a fraction of your medical expenses – especially if you have suffered serious injuries. It is why you need to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault motorist with the help of independent bicycle accident attorneys so that you can be fully compensated for your injuries, lost earnings, loss of earning capacity, and any other damages you might have incurred as a result of the accident.
The Serious Injury Threshold in Michigan
It should be noted that like all other no-fault states, Michigan allows you to bring a tort claim against a third party only if your injuries are considered serious in nature.
Under Michigan law, the term “serious injury” refers to any kind of injury that results in:
- Serious impairment of a bodily function
- Permanent and serious disfigurement
Apart from this, any injury that results in the death of the victim is also considered a serious injury under the law.
Statute of Limitations for Filing a Michigan Bicycle Accident Lawsuit
The deadline for filing a bicycle accident lawsuit – or any other type of personal injury lawsuit for that matter – is set at three years. The three-year deadline starts right from the date of the accident. If you are unable to bring a claim against the at-fault party within three years, you will lose your right to recover compensation from them.
There are only three exceptions to the aforementioned statute of limitations. These include:
- If the injured cyclist happens to be a minor (under the age of 18), the deadline for filing the claim will start only after they turn 18.
- If the injured cyclist is not of sound mind, the deadline for filing the claim will start only after they are declared sane by a qualified medical professional. In this case, however, the injured party will only have one year (from the date on which they are declared sane) to file the claim.
- If the party that caused the accident leaves Michigan before the claim is filed in court, the deadline will only start after the at-fault party returns to Michigan.
It should be noted that the deadline mentioned above is only applicable if you are planning to sue a private individual or organization. If you are planning to sue a state or local government agency, you are required to serve the agency in question with a notice within 120 days from the date of the accident. If you miss the deadline, you will not be able to file a claim and recover damages.
Compensatory Damages That Can Be Recovered in a Michigan Bicycle Accident Claim
Depending on how serious your injuries are, you might be able to recover the following damages from the at-fault party.
- Medical expenses (including ambulance charges, emergency medical care, diagnostic tests, lab tests, surgery, hospitalization charges, surgeon’s charges, prescription medications, and other related expenses)
- Estimated cost of future treatment (if you are not fully recovered or fail to reach maximum medical improvement by the time the claim is resolved and might require treatment for the foreseeable future)
- Rehabilitation expenses (cost of physical therapy, occupational therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and counseling)
- Cost of assistive devices (if you are physically or cognitively disabled and need assistive devices to perform your day-to-day activities)
- Cost of modifications at home (to accommodate your disabilities)
- Cost of long-term care and assisted living (if you are permanently disabled as a result of your injuries)
- Lost wages
- Loss of earning capacity (estimated amount of wages, hikes, bonuses, promotions, and other perks you stand to lose due to your disabilities)
- Estimated cost of repairing or replacing your bicycle and other personal items damaged in the accident
- Pain and suffering
- Mental anguish
- Loss of quality of life
Steps Involved in a Michigan Bicycle Accident Claim
During the initial consultation, the bicycle accident lawyer will ask you several questions about the accident and try to get as much information as they can. If they believe that you have a legitimate case against the at-fault motorist, they will agree to represent you.
Your bicycle accident lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation to find out what caused the accident, how you got injured, and who can be held liable for your injuries.
Your lawyer will collect all the evidence they need to build a strong case against the at-fault motorist – as well as other parties if any.
Calculating the Value of Your Bicycle Accident Claim
Your lawyer will calculate the value of your claim based on the nature and extent of your injuries, the severity of your disability (if any), whether you might need ongoing medical treatment, the amount of earnings you have lost and stand to lose in the foreseeable future, loss of earning capacity, and several other factors.
Your lawyer will send a demand letter – along with copies of your medical bills, receipts for out-of-pocket medical expenses, documentation of lost wages, photographs taken at the accident scene, and other such documents – to the at-fault motorist’s insurance company.
Your lawyer will negotiate with the claims adjustor from the at-fault party’s insurance company. If the adjuster makes a reasonable settlement offer that adequately covers all your economic and non-economic losses, your lawyer will advise you to accept it. Otherwise, they might decide to take your case to trial.
Once your case goes to trial, your lawyer and the lawyer representing the insurance company will make their arguments and present the evidence they have to the jury or judge. Depending on the available evidence, the jury or judge will award damages to you.
Let a Competent and Experienced Bicycle Accident Attorney Protect Your Rights
At The Lobb Law Firm, we passionately advocate for the rights of cyclists – who are among the most vulnerable road users and are at risk of sustaining serious injuries in the event of an accident. We believe that the roadways in Michigan belong to everyone – not just motorists.
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, we can provide you with highly effective, personalized legal representation and fight tirelessly to obtain the maximum possible compensation from the at-fault party. Our bicycle accident lawyers have over 50 years of combined legal experience and are known for their unmatched knowledge of Michigan personal injury laws and aggressive negotiation skills.
We will conduct an in-depth investigation to identify all the parties that can be held liable for your injuries, gather the required evidence, build the strongest possible case against them, and go the extra mile to recover every dollar you are owed. We work on a contingency basis, which means you are not required to pay us a single dime unless we win your case.
Call our law firm today at 248-591-4090 or get in touch with us using our online contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our seasoned Michigan bicycle accident attorneys.