If you or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident, you deserve legal advice from an experienced Traverse City bike accident attorney. Injured cyclists have the right to be compensated for their injuries from negligent drivers who cause an accident, so it is important to hire an attorney as soon as possible to best protect your legal rights.
Call our Traverse City personal injury attorneys at Michigan Injury Lawyers for your free initial consultation.
Why Bike Riders Face Increased Risk of the Road
Cyclists are among the most vulnerable of all road users. Unlike vehicle occupants, who are protected by a steel frame, seat belts, airbags, and other safety features—cyclists have almost no protection from the full force of impact during a collision. Helmets and pads can offer some protection from impact, but not enough to prevent most injuries.
In addition to having little protection, bicyclists are also more difficult for drivers to see. You are smaller than cars on the road, and drivers are not always expecting cyclists to be present in the area. It is very important to make yourself seen, so wear light-colored clothing and use reflective tape as necessary. Make sure your headlight and bell are in good working order before every ride. Signal your turns to help drivers anticipate your movements. Anything you can do to increase your presence will help reduce the risk of being struck by a car.
Common Types of Bicycle Accident Injuries
According to a study published by the American Academy of Family Physicians, the most common injuries associated with bike riding are damage to superficial soft tissue and the musculoskeletal system. That said, head injuries are responsible for most fatal bike accidents and long-term disabilities, underlining the absolute importance of wearing a helmet. The Guardian reports that proper use of a bicycle helmet can reduce the risk of sustaining a serious head injury by nearly 70 percent.
Other injuries that might seem minor can be complicated by other medical conditions. A broken bone might take longer to heal in a patient who suffers from osteoporosis. A broken bone can also injure nearby nerves with its sharp edges, creating conditions that can greatly increase the amount of time and money needed to repair the damage sustained in a bicycle accident. A negligent driver who causes a bike accident is responsible for compensating you for all of your injuries—even if they are exacerbated by conditions beyond the defendant’s control.
Liability for Bike Accident Cases
So who is liable (legally responsible) for causing a bike accident? This is an important question. The person who is legally at fault for causing an accident is also legally responsible for compensating any injury victims of that accident. In some cases, liability is clear. For example, if you were lawfully riding in the bike lane, a driver who crossed into the lane unexpectedly and struck, you would almost certainly be liable for the accident. There are many situations in which a cyclist has the right of way, and a driver can be liable for failing to yield the right of way to a cyclist.
Liability can also be apportioned between more than one driver. If two drivers are equally at fault for causing an accident that injures you, then each driver has a legal obligation to pay for 50 percent of your medical bills and other losses. Even if you are partly at fault for the accident, you can still recover damages for the part caused by the negligent driver.
Michigan’s No-Fault Auto Insurance Laws
Michigan is one of only a few states with a no-fault insurance scheme written into its statutes. “No-fault” insurance enacts Personal Injury Protection (PIP coverage) through your own auto insurance. You can file a claim for medical bills and lost wages through your own insurance, regardless of who was at fault for the accident. Additionally, there is limited coverage for household replacement services, mileage to and from medical appointments, and attendant care.
Many bike accident victims also sustain other losses. Pain and suffering is usually the largest component of a personal injury award, and it is not available under PIP coverage. You must file a separate claim against the negligent driver to obtain compensation for these losses (which can be significant). In addition to these two insurance claims, your health insurance carrier might also have a right to be reimbursed, if it pays for any medical bills that are related to the accident. This is known as the right of “subrogation.” Medicare and Medicaid programs have clear statutory rights of subrogation that are pursued aggressively.
Private health insurers are sometimes less aggressive with their recovery tactics, but they, too, have subrogation rights that must be settled before your bicycle injury case is resolved. Speak with an experienced Michigan bicycle accident attorney about the different claims that are available to you and potential subrogation rights, allowing you to make an informed decision about how best to proceed with your bike accident case.
The Right Bicycle Accident Lawyers for Traverse City Injury Victims
As you can see, bicycle accident claims can be complicated. It is important to hire your own Traverse City bicycle accident lawyer as soon as possible to best protect your legal right to be compensated for all of your injuries and losses. The experienced bike injury attorneys at Michigan Injury Lawyers are here to help.
Many Traverse City injury victims have trusted us to protect your legal rights. Call (231) 649-2720 or send us a contact us online for your free initial consultation. We are here to help you and your family through this difficult time.