Due to their lack of safety, bicycles pose an inherent risk to riders. Unfortunately, the resulting damages from any type of accident can be severe, including serious injuries, emotional trauma, and extensive financial strain.
Understanding the common causes of Michigan bicycle accidents may help to prevent injuries. However, if you were already injured in a cycling crash, a compassionate and skilled lawyer could help to assess your legal circumstances and build a claim on your behalf.
How Bicycle Incidents are Caused
There are, unfortunately, countless ways that a bicyclist can be injured. However, some common causes of bicycle accidents in Michigan include:
- Bicyclists hit by cars—including sideswipes, cut-offs, and hit-and-run accidents
- Dog attacks
- Road defects
Many of these accidents are the result of another person’s negligent behavior. No matter the reason for a crash, however, a dedicated attorney could help to investigate the cause of a cycling crash and work to determine liability or alternatives to pursuing compensation.
Falls and Crashes
Over 50 percent of cycling crashes are the result of falls. Bicycle accidents from falls are commonly caused either when the front wheel suddenly stops moving, or when the rear wheel slides out. The front wheel can stop if it encounters a road defect—such as a crack or drain grate—or if the front brakes are applied too suddenly. Rear wheels can skid out when turning on gravel, sand, ice, metal surfaces, or any slippery surface.
After falls, the most frequent type of accidents are collisions with a stationary object, such as trees. In fact, falls and collisions with fixed objects account for about 75 to 80 percent of all bicycle crashes.
Collisions with Motor Vehicles
Collisions between a car and bicycle account for between ten to 15 percent of all bicycle accidents. Unfortunately, a bicyclist being hit by a car accounts for the largest number of fatalities. Most of these collisions occur when either the bicyclist or the motorist is turning or crossing an intersection or driveway. Other crashes occur when the bicyclist is not obeying traffic laws and is cycling on the wrong side of the road or running red lights.
Another cause that occurs frequently is when a driver or passenger in a car opens a door as a biker is riding past. This presents an immediate—and sometimes unavoidable—obstacle to the unsuspecting bicyclist. A bicyclist who hits the car door is usually thrown from the bike onto the pavement with high impact, causing serious injuries. On the other hand, if a bicyclist attempts to avoid the door, the results may be just as severe.
Bicyclists Cut-Off by Cars
One of the most common causes for collisions between motorists and bicyclists are due to a cyclist being cut off by a car. This can happen in any number of ways, including:
- A left-turning vehicle at an intersection in which the driver does not see a bicyclist lawfully crossing the street
- A right-turning automobile traveling ahead of a bicyclist in which the driver does not use the right turn signal and turns abruptly in front of the biker
- A right-turning vehicle attempting to overtake or pass a bicyclist
Virtually all of these and other incidents are the result of a driver’s careless or reckless behavior. As a result, a bicyclist who is hit by a car by these causes often has the legal grounds for a civil lawsuit.
Another common cause for bicycle accidents in Michigan is known as a sideswipe. This occurs when a vehicle is either pulling a trailer behind it or has an over-sized rear view mirror on the vehicle door. In either scenario, the width of the vehicle is extended further than usual and might encroach on a bicyclist’s passage, causing them to be hit by the car.
As a result, an unsuspecting bicyclist riding properly near the road shoulder or even in a designated bike lane can be knocked off the bike at a high rate of speed. Quite often, the driver will not realize what has happened and will keep on driving. If this happens and the driver cannot be hailed down, an injured bicyclist can still likely file an uninsured motorist claim under their own insurance policy, if applicable.
Hit-and-Run Bicycle Collisions
In many instances, a driver who causes a bicycle accident will flee the scene. This might be to avoid being held responsible in a criminal or civil case, or because they have a lack of proper insurance or do not possess a valid driver’s license.
These hit-and-run collisions with bicyclists might leave the injured person feeling as though they have no legal options. However, as mentioned above, if an injured cyclist has an uninsured motorist policy might be able to recover compensation by filing a claim with their insurance company. If not, some form of no-fault insurance might still be applicable.
Dog attacks often involve a bicyclist riding on a public street who is chased by a dog and either bitten or injured when knocked off of the bicycle. Injuries from these bicycle knockdowns can be severe and often result in broken bones, traumatic brain injuries, and other injuries caused by a fall. When a bicyclist suffers damages from a dog attack, they are often entitled under Michigan law to pursue a lawsuit against a negligent dog owner.
Another common cause of bicycle crashes is due to defective or hazardous highways, roadways, streets, or sidewalks. There are numerous types of roadway issues that pose a major threat to bicyclists. These include:
- Improper trenching
- Loose debris
- Poor pavement transitions
- Overgrown trees or foliage
No matter the cause of a bicycle accident, it is important for an injured cyclist to understand their legal rights and options in Michigan. For example, if a reckless driver caused a collision, a bicyclist might be able to pursue a civil lawsuit against them. Similarly, if a defective roadway led to an accident, an injured claimant could pursue compensation against the government entity responsible for maintaining the road.
However, it is also important for an injured bicyclist to try to adhere to the statute of limitations in Michigan, outlined in Michigan Compiled Laws Section 600.5805. According to this statute, any potential claimant has three years from the date of their injury to file a lawsuit. However, this timeframe might shift for claims against a government entity. As a result, it could be beneficial to have the counsel of a lawyer who is familiar with the common causes of bicycle accidents and how claims must be pursued for each in Michigan.
Alternatives to a Lawsuit
If the cause of a bicycle accident is unclear or if fault cannot be assigned, an injured bicyclist might still be able to pursue compensation through a no-fault insurance claim. These claims might help an injured applicant to recover lost wages, medical expenses, and other associated costs.
However, the way that the no-fault system functions in Michigan might be confusing to some people, especially as they recover from their injuries. A knowledgeable lawyer could help to explain these alternatives to anyone injured in a bicycle accident and help them determine how to best proceed.
Call a Lawyer to Discuss Common Causes of Michigan Bicycle Accidents
If you were injured in a cycling accident, you may feel overwhelmed and traumatized. However, by contacting a lawyer at Buckfire & Buckfire, you could rest assured that a legal professional is assessing your case and determining if you have grounds for a legal claim.
A compassionate attorney familiar with the common causes of Michigan bicycle accidents could work to calculate the losses you incurred, as well as investigate who was at fault for a crash or collision, so that you can focus on your recovery. Call today to begin building a claim.
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