Detroit Bicycle Accident Attorneys
Bicycle riding is more than just a recreational activity in Michigan and the United States. Many people use bicycles as transportation; for others, cycling is a significant part of their daily health and fitness regime. Unfortunately, cyclists who share the roadways with motor vehicles are constantly at risk of an accident and vulnerable to severe injuries.
Hundreds of Cyclists Are Injured on Michigan Roads Each Year
Many cyclists are injured or killed by inattentive or reckless drivers. There were 1,235 cyclists involved in motor vehicle accidents in Michigan in 2020. Nearly 40 cyclists were killed in 37 collisions, while 933 cyclists were injured.
About 15 percent of bicycle-vehicle collision victims suffered severe injuries. The Michigan State Police reported an 81 percent rise in bicycle accident deaths in 2020 compared to the previous year.
Bicycle accidents can be devastating. They often result in expensive medical bills, emotional distress, and other losses. The financial fallout and painful injuries in the aftermath of a crash can permanently alter the lives of victims and their families.
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, you may be able to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the person responsible for your crash. When a cyclist is killed in a collision, their surviving family members have the right to file a wrongful death claim.
Rights of Michigan Cyclists on the Roadways
Michigan law gives cyclists many of the same rights as drivers, including the right to ride on roads alongside motor vehicles. They may also bike on sidewalks and use pedestrian crosswalks as long as they give pedestrians the right of way. Cyclists must follow safety rules such as using hand signals (e.g., to indicate turning or stopping) and obeying traffic signs and signals.
Motor vehicles must adjust their speeds to accommodate bicycles in their lanes and take appropriate care when moving around them. Michigan’s Safe Passing Law requires drivers to allow a three-foot distance when overtaking a bicycle traveling in the same direction. Leaving the roadway or traveling on the shoulder to overtake a bike is against the law.
What Causes Bicycle Accidents?
Many negligent behaviors can cause vehicle-bicycle collisions, including distracted driving and drunk driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), around one-third of fatal bicycle accidents involve alcohol.
Bicycle accidents often occur when drivers:
- Consume alcohol or take drugs.
- Drive on the wrong side of the road.
- Cut cyclists off while making turns.
- Open vehicle doors directly into the path of cyclists (dooring).
- Exceed speed limits.
- Fail to yield.
Bicycle accidents may also result from unsafe road conditions, collisions with pedestrians or stationary objects, or the actions of other cyclists riding in a group. Sometimes defective bike equipment contributes to causing a crash.
Bicycle Accident Injuries
Bicycle accidents can cause a wide range of injuries. While some victims sustain just a few bruises and cuts, others suffer debilitating harm and life-threatening injuries.
Injuries from a bicycle accident can include:
- Severe head trauma, brain damage, and concussions.
- Spinal cord injuries and paralysis.
- Broken bones and fractures.
- Soft tissue damage.
- Cuts, scrapes, and road rash.
- Broken bones and fractures.
- Sprains and strains.
Michigan law does not require cyclists to wear helmets. However, bicycle helmets can help reduce the risk of head and brain injuries. Unfortunately, defective or poorly designed helmets can contribute to the severity of a rider’s injuries.
Unlike passengers in cars or other vehicles, cyclists are entirely exposed and vulnerable. As a result, bicycle accidents frequently result in concussions or traumatic brain injuries. Between 2009 and 2018, U.S. emergency rooms treated almost 597,000 bicycle-related traumatic brain injuries.
Sometimes, the severity of a cyclist’s injuries may not be immediately apparent. Examples include internal bleeding, damage to internal organs, and concussions. A bicycle accident victim should get checked by a doctor as soon as possible to rule out injuries; delays can cause worsening of severe conditions or even lead to death.
Pursuing Compensation for Bicycle Accident Injuries
Human bodies are not made to withstand motor vehicle impacts. Even cars traveling at low speeds have the potential to cause serious harm when they strike a cyclist. Riders thrown from their bikes can suffer additional injuries if they land on pavement or are thrown into another hard surface.
A rider who survives a Detroit bicycle accident will likely face an uphill road. Even if they make a full recovery, they may be left with expensive medical bills for doctor’s visits, surgery, medication, rehabilitation, and other costs. They may also lose income if they can’t work during their recovery.
When drivers fail to observe traffic laws or drive negligently, they may be liable for any injuries. Filing a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent driver allows injured cyclists to seek compensation for their accident-related damages. This compensation can include:
- Property damage to the bicycle.
- Medical bills.
- Lost wages and reduced future earnings.
- Emotional distress.
- Pain and suffering.
- Ongoing medical treatment and rehabilitation.
Filing a Bicycle Accident Claim
All Michigan drivers are required by law to carry no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) insurance coverage. PIP coverage ensures all injury victims recover at least some compensation for their injuries in an accident. The coverage applies regardless of who is at fault for the crash.
Although no-fault PIP coverage provides some compensation if you are injured in a bicycle accident, the amount is likely insufficient to cover all your losses. An injured cyclist can file a personal injury lawsuit against a negligent driver if the PIP coverage is inadequate. An experienced Detroit bicycle accident lawyer can explain your legal options and advise you on how to proceed if a lawsuit is warranted.
Determining Fault in Bicycle Accident Cases
In some bicycle accident cases, the driver may claim the victim was entirely to blame for the crash or somehow contributed to causing it. The cyclist, for example, may have been riding outside a designated bike lane or failed to use the correct hand signals when turning.
Injured cyclists still have the right to recover damages in a personal injury lawsuit if they were partially responsible for the accident. According to Michigan’s comparative fault law, an accident victim’s compensation is reduced by their percentage of fault for the collision. However, if the victim is over 50 percent at fault for the accident, they can’t recover anything.
An experienced Detroit bicycle accident attorney knows how to stand up for the rights of injured cyclists. At Sommers Schwartz, our team will investigate your bicycle accident and gather police reports, eyewitness testimony, surveillance footage, and other evidence to help you prove your case.
Steps To Take After a Bicycle Accident
If you or someone you love was involved in a Michigan bicycle accident, you will likely be shaken up. While it’s challenging to remain calm, the steps you take immediately after a collision can help preserve the facts of the accident and support your personal injury claim against the negligent party.
- Call 911 to report the accident. First responders can check you for injuries and provide urgent medical care. If the police arrive at the scene, ask for a copy of their official accident report.
- Get medical care. See a doctor immediately to receive treatment and get checked for hidden injuries. Save all medical bills and records.
- Gather evidence. Take photos of the crash scene, surroundings, injuries, bicycle, protective gear, and the vehicle involved. Ask someone to help you if you can’t do so. Do not discard, wash, or fix your bike.
- Collect contact details. Get the name, license plate number, insurance information, and contact details of the driver or drivers involved in the accident. If witnesses were present, ask them to share their accounts of the collision. Be sure to collect their contact information as well.
- Avoid talking to insurance companies. The at-fault driver’s insurance company may try to convince you to make a recorded statement that could jeopardize your claim. Many insurers try to talk bicycle accident victims into accepting lowball settlements that do not fully cover their losses.
- Contact a personal injury lawyer. Immediately seek the assistance of a skilled personal injury lawyer. The attorney will communicate with the insurance company on your behalf and negotiate with them to obtain the compensation you deserve.
Contact the Detroit Bicycle Accident Attorneys at Sommers Schwartz
Sommers Schwartz is a powerhouse litigation firm devoted to helping bicycle accident victims recover. Our experienced Detroit personal injury attorneys will evaluate your case and fight to obtain just compensation for your injuries and other losses. We represent clients in Detroit and across Michigan. Contact us for a free consultation today.