The personal injury lawyers at the Buckfire Law Firm represent victims of bicycle accidents on streets, highways, and roadways.
In addition to traditional bicycles, we also help people injured riding other types of cycles, including adult trikes, recumbent bikes, and tandem bicycles.
For many people, cycling is a great form of exercise and for others, it is their primary mode of transportation.
In many cities, riding a bike to work is easier, faster, and much cheaper than driving a car.
Some employers even offer incentives to employees who pedal to the office. And of course, riding a bike is a rite of passage for children and active teenagers who do not have a license to drive.
Unfortunately, many drivers ignore the rights of bicyclists and this results in serious injury accidents.
Settlement claims can be filed for personal injuries caused in these crashes. In cases involving fatalities, the families of the person killed can file a Michigan wrongful death claim.
Our experienced attorneys can help you if your bicycle accident was today or anytime in the past.
Statistics Show Bicycle Accidents Are Common in Michigan
The statistics for bicycle accidents in Michigan are staggering. The figures apply to all types of cycles that were not motorized at the time of use. Mopeds, scooters, and motorcycles are not included.
In 2017, there were 1,723 bicyclists involved in crashes with motor vehicles in the state. Of that number, there were 21 fatal accidents and 1,363 bicyclists were injured according to police bike accident reports.
More than 70% of bike accidents occurred during daylight hours, which shows that in most cases motorists were simply not paying attention or were distracted while driving. In addition to the 21 deaths, there were hundreds of injuries caused in bicycle accidents, many of them very serious.
The pie chart above shows the number of deaths for each age group for bicyclists in 2018. According to Michigan Traffic Crash Facts, 1 out of 5 deaths happens to people under the age of 16, with a majority of deaths happening to adults in the 21-64 age range.
Age Group: % of Total Deaths
- 10 and under: 9.52%
- 11-15 9.52%
- 16-20 19.05%
- 21-64 47.62%
- 65 and older 14.23%
What to Do After a Bicycle Accident
The most important thing an injured cyclist could do is to call emergency services.
If possible, get the driver or other at-fault party’s name, address, phone number, plate number, and insurance information could be key for a future claim. Furthermore, photographing the scene of the accident and giving a statement to a law enforcement officer is also very helpful.
You should not admit any potential guilt or fault at the scene and definitely do not speak with another person’s insurance company adjuster. They are trained to get you to say things that can ruin your case. You will want all of your communication with the adjuster to come through our lawyers.
Bicycle Riding Laws in Michigan
Motorists in Michigan are required to follow all rules of the roads and drive their vehicles in a safe manner in accordance with posted speed limits, traffic signs, and traffic lights.
Cyclists are also required to comply with the laws of motor vehicles, and even have additional laws imposed on them. For example, a bicyclist must obey the same traffic signals and signs as a motorist.
For example, bicycles may be ridden on sidewalks, but cyclists must yield the right-of-way to pedestrians and are required to give an audible signal before overtaking and passing a pedestrian.
Some municipalities have their own traffic control devices or ordinances that restrict riding on sidewalks. Also, a cyclist lawfully operating a bicycle upon a sidewalk or a pedestrian crosswalk has all of the rights and responsibilities that apply to pedestrians using that sidewalk or crosswalk.
Michigan does not have any laws requiring cyclists to wear helmets, but it is always safe practice.
The Center for Disease Control has determined that bicycle helmets are the single most effective measure available to reduce head injuries and fatalities in cycling accidents.
Most Common Causes of Cycling Crashes
Most cycling accidents are caused by driver error and inattention. The most common causes of bicycle accidents are:
- Excessive speed
- Failure to yield and not obeying traffic signals or signs
- Unlawful turns (often left turns at intersections & right turns with a bicyclist on the right side)
- Distracted driving (texting & cell phone usage)
- Sideswiping a bicyclist
- Crossing into marked bicycle lanes
- Driving into bicycle lanes, crosswalks, and sidewalks without regard for bicyclists
Bicycle Lane Accidents
Many cities and counties have installed specific bicycle lanes on the side of roads and highways to protect cyclists. They are designated with markings that direct cyclists in the direction of travel.
It is illegal for motorists to drive into those lanes, except when making turns from the travel lane.
Despite these clearly marked lanes, many drivers cross into those lanes and hit people lawfully riding their bikes in the designated safe zones.
Bicyclists Hit in Crosswalks
One of the most common places where bicycle accidents occur is on crosswalks. This can happen from a number of circumstances, all of which might lead to severe injuries to the cyclist. If so, the injured biker might be able to pursue compensation against the negligent driver.
For example, if a driver fails to slow down or yield the right of way to a bicyclist who is already in a crosswalk, they run the risk of colliding with the bicyclist. Other times, a motorist may turn right onto a street without first looking to see if someone is riding their bike into the crosswalk.
Potholes and Poorly Maintained Roads
Roads and streets that are deteriorating and in poor conditions pose a significant danger to cyclists.
Under these circumstances, an injured bicyclist might be able to file a claim against the government entity responsible for maintaining the street or the road crew who was supposed to properly tend to a hazard.
Do I Need to File a Police Report?
It is important to file a police report after your bicycle accident, even if you have a minor injury.
For serious accidents, the police will likely arrive at the scene to do an investigation and will automatically prepare a traffic crash report.
Michigan law requires drivers to report any accident involving a motor vehicle that causes more than $1,000 in property damage, results in death or injury, or damages an unattended vehicle or other property.
A written report is not always required as long as the accident is reported, but many insurance company policies require that you file a written report with a police agency within 24 hours of the accident to qualify for insurance benefits and compensation.
If you were injured in the bicycle accident, you should contact your insurance company immediately to report any damage to your bike and injuries to yourself.
For injuries that require medical treatment, you will need to file an Application for No-Fault Insurance Benefits if you qualify under Michigan law.
What are my Rights after a Hit and Run Bike Accident?
If the driver who struck you flees after the accident, you can still pursue several claims.
If there is physical evidence or an eyewitness to support you were the victim of a hit and run accident, then you can file a claim for no-fault insurance benefits.
Also, you may be able to file an uninsured motorist claim for your personal injuries if you or a member of your household had this coverage in your auto policy.
Who Pays my Medical Bills and Expenses?
Your medical bills can be claimed through the Michigan no-fault insurance system if you were injured in a bicycle accident with a motor vehicle.
You are entitled to receive these benefits, even if you were at fault for the crash. If you have health insurance, the benefits may be coordinated between the two companies.
Benefits will either come from your own car insurance, the car insurance of a family member, or from the insurance company of the negligent driver that hit you on your bike. If none of these people were insured, you can get still get benefits through the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan.
If you were seriously injured, your medical bills will pile up quickly and can cause you serious financial hardship if you do not take the proper steps to file your claims for benefits. We will determine which company must pay your bills and then will file your claims for you.
Other no-fault insurance benefits that you can claim include payment of your lost wages, household service expenses, attendant care services, medical transportation expenses and other benefits.
In fatal bicycle accident cases, your family members can claim Survivor Loss Benefits from the insurance company for financial help for a spouse, children, and dependents.
Common Injuries from Bicycle Accidents
There is rarely a minor injury that results from a motor vehicle striking a bicyclist, even at minor speeds because of the general lack of safety bicyclists have, accidents often result in serious injuries.
While wearing a helmet and other safety equipment can help reduce injuries, they are unfortunately not always enough to prevent an injury. Common injuries include, but are not limited to:
- Scrapes, bruises, and cuts
- Broken and fracture bones
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Neck injuries resulting in paralysis and nerve damage
- Spinal cord damage, herniated discs, and other back injuries
- Head and brain trauma, including concussions
The bar chart above shows the number of deaths from bicyclists in 2017 for each month. The number of deaths increase in the summer months and decrease when the winter months start to occur.
- January: 58
- February: 45
- March: 45
- April: 68
- May: 61
- June: 74
- July: 75
- August: 88
- September: 80
- October: 72
- November: 58
- December: 53
Can I Sue the Driver that Caused my Injuries?
Most bicycle accident lawsuits are based on the legal theory of negligence, which means that someone failed to take proper care in doing something.
For bike accidents, it means that a driver either was careless, reckless or violated a driving rule of the road.
You can sue the at-fault driver for your personal injuries suffered in your accident. You can also sue the owner of the vehicle driven by the at-fault driver. These claims are in addition to payment of your medical expenses and other no-fault insurance benefits.
A personal injury settlement provides monetary compensation for your pain and suffering, psychological damages, disability, and disfiguring scars.
What is Comparative Negligence?
A common insurance company defense strategy is to blame the bicyclist for the accident. This legal theory, called comparative negligence, tries to place the blame for the crash on the cyclist.
If successful, the jury can reduce the damages award to the cyclist by his or her percentage of fault. For example, if the jury awards the sum of $ 100,000 but puts 30% of the blame on the cyclist, then the resulting award would be $ 70,000 based upon the 70% fault attributed to the motorist.
What Types of Compensation Are Available?
Michigan law allows for several types of recoverable damage in personal injury cases. You can demand compensation for both economic and non-economic losses. These include, but are not limited to:
- Past, present, and future wages and loss of earnings
- Loss of enjoyment of life, such as disability from activities
- Medical expenses—such as hospital bills, rehabilitation, and physical therapy
- Physical pain and suffering at the time of the crash and during your recovery
- Mental anguish and psychological damages
- Loss of companionship, consortium
- Decreased earning capacity
- Scars and disfigurements
How Much Money Can You Sue for Pain and Suffering?
There is no limit to the amount you can sue for pain and suffering.
Your settlement will be determined by the specific facts of your case because there is no average or typical payout amount.
Pain and suffering damages are proven by your own testimony, the medical records, and often through the testimony of your family members and treating doctors.
What is the Typical Amount of a Bicycle Accident Settlement?
There is no settlement calculator or average bicycle accident settlement that is used for determining the payout amount in your case. Every claim is completely different and based upon a number of factors used to determine the worth of your injury claim. These include:
- Severity and permanence of your injuries.
- Type and length of medical treatment, including surgeries and rehabilitation.
- The amount of physical and emotional pain and suffering.
- Nature and length of any disabilities.
- The severity of any scars or disfigurement.
- How the injuries have affected your ability to lead a normal life.
Other settlement factors include whether you had an excess loss of income, a loss of future earning capacity, and the permanency of your injuries.
If your pain and disability will go into the future, your settlement will be much higher than if you have fully recovered.
The insurance policy limits of the negligent motorist and other potential sources of insurance coverage also factor into the determination of the amount of your settlement. We will investigate all possible sources of insurance to make sure you received the highest possible settlement.
Examples of Michigan Bicycle Accident Settlements
Below is an example of bicycle accident settlements throughout Michigan:
- $5,500,000 settlement for a fatal accident Northern Michigan
- $4,500,000 settlement for passenger removing his bike from a Detroit bus
- $2,000,000 wrongful death lawsuit verdict for a Lansing child hit by a pickup truck.
- $1,750,000 settlement in Oakland County for a child hit by a car while riding his bike
- $1,250,000 fatal bike accident settlement in Otsego County
- $1,000,000 wrongful death settlement against a truck company in a Macomb County
- $750,000 settlement for a bicyclist hit by a transportation van in Downriver Detroit
- $600,000 settlement for a bicyclist with a brain injury in an Ann Arbor accident
Do I Need a Lawyer to Settle my Case?
You can always try to settle your injury case without a lawyer. However, studies show that injury victims receive much higher settlement awards when represented by an experienced attorney and end up with more money for themselves even after paying the lawyer fees.
If you try to settle the case without an attorney, be aware of any releases you will be required to sign by the insurance company adjuster.
You may unknowingly give up many of your important legal rights and benefits forever. Also, beware that the adjuster may not tell you the real insurance policy limits or other available types of insurance coverage that could bring you a larger settlement.
How Much Does it Cost to Hire an Injury Lawyer?
It will not cost you a penny to hire the Buckfire Law Firm bicycle accident lawyers. We do not charge any legal fees to start your case and we only get paid when you receive your settlement check.
Under this arrangement, called a contingency fee agreement, we also pay all case expenses for you and receive a percentage of the settlement at the very end of the case when your check is received. There are no legal fees if the case is unsuccessful for any reason. You owe us nothing.
How Much Time Do I Have to File a Lawsuit?
Under Michigan law, the time limit to sue someone for personal injuries from an auto accident is three years from the date of the accident. This is known as the Statute of Limitations.
The time deadlines are much shorter for no-fault insurance benefits. The period may be extended longer if the injured person was a minor at the time of the crash.
If you miss the deadline, your claims will be gone forever.
Buckfire Law Named Bicycle Friendly Business
Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. was among 103 nationwide businesses this year to be named a Bicycle Friendly Business by The League of American Bicyclists.
Buckfire Law was a recipient of the bronze award in recognition of its outstanding efforts to support and encourage bicycling.
Founded in 1880, The League of American Bicyclists celebrates the communities, businesses, and universities joining the movement to make biking better each year through its Bicycle Friendly America awards.
“There are few better grassroots ways to make bicycling an easy transportation choice for people than by destinations–the places we want and need to go–becoming Bicycle Friendly Businesses,” executive director of the League of American Bicyclists Bill Nesper said in a statement. “We’re thrilled that these 153 businesses are part of this movement to make our communities stronger, safer, and more connected through bicycling.”
The Bicycle Friendly Business program recognizes organizations for the role they play in the ecosystem of building a more Bicycle Friendly America for everyone. The League also awards Bicycle Friendly Universities and Bicycle Friendly Communities throughout the year.
Finding the Best Michigan Bicycle Accident Lawyer
Buckfire Law has been a respected law firm for more than 50 years and has achieved the top awards in the legal profession.
The difference between winning a great settlement or no settlement is the attorney you choose for your case. We have the skill and experience to win your case.
Call us now to tell us your story. We are ready and eager to begin work on your case immediately.