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What happens if I’m injured in a bicycle accident in Michigan?

June 6, 2012 by Steven M. Gursten

Potential cases and legal rights when a bicyclist gets hit by a car

Now that the weather is warming up, we’re seeing a lot more bicyclists out there. On weekends, I’m one of them. But being an avid bicycle enthusiast has its challenges in Michigan. The biggest challenge is sharing the roads with cars whizzing by. And now is the time of the year when sadly, our injury lawyers end up helping many people who are hurt in bike accidents with cars.

One common question our injury lawyers receive is: What exactly is the law in Michigan when someone riding a bike gets hit by a car?

A bike is not considered a motor vehicle under Michigan law. But that doesn’t mean if you are injured in a bicycle accident, you do not have a case or any legal rights.

If you are injured in a bicycle accident involving a car or truck, you can receive Michigan No-fault insurance benefits (a first-party claim) and you can also sue for pain and suffering compensation (a third-party claim). This is only if a car or truck is involved. A person injured in a bike accident that happens without a car or truck involved will not collect Michigan No-Fault benefits.

A first-party claim (also called a No-Fault or personal injury protection (PIP) claim) is between the bike accident victim and the auto insurance company. The auto insurance company would cover your benefits, including medical expenses, lost wages, replacement services (chores/help with children), and attendant care (nursing services). The statute of limitations to make a first-party claim is one year from the date of the bicycle accident.

Here’s a blog post about who pays No-Fault insurance benefits for bicyclists and pedestrians.

A third-party claim (also called a pain and suffering or tort claim) is a lawsuit that’s filed against the negligent driver involved in the bicycle accident. The damages available in a third-party claim following a motorcycle crash include pain and suffering damages and excess economic benefits. The statute of limitations to make a third-party claim is three years from the date of the bike accident.

Michigan bicycle crash statistics

In 2010, there were 1,076 bicycles involved in auto accidents, with 29 bicyclists killed and 1,575 injured. More bicyclists within the 45-54 years of age group died than any other age group, with nine killed (31 percent).

One of the biggest takeaways from this information is the absolute importance of helmet use: “Bicycle helmets are 85 to 88 percent effective in mitigating head and brain injuries in all types of bicycle accidents, making the use of helmets the single most effective countermeasure available to reduce head injuries and fatalities resulting from bicycle crashes.”

This information comes from The National Center for Statistics and Analysis of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration cites a study by the Centers for Disease Control.

– Steven M. Gursten is an attorney handling auto and bicycle accidents. He is head of Michigan Auto Law and president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association. He frequently writes and speaks on bicycle safety. On weekends, you can often see Steve on his bike at Kensington.

Related information:

Bicycle helmet saves Michigan Auto Law receptionist’s eye & bike safety tips

Anti-bicyclist bias by police

Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights to better serve you. Call (248) 353-7575 for a free consultation with one of our Michigan bike accident lawyers.

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One Reply to “What happens if I’m injured in a bicycle accident in Michigan?”

  1. Excellent set of resources, and thank you for emphasizing that there are laws ever though there are restitution laws protecting bikers who have been in an accident, wearing a helmet is the most important protection there is! It will save your life!

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