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10 things a personal injury lawyer wishes you knew about bicycle accidents

October 12, 2016 by Steven M. Gursten

Follow these tips to reduce your risk of being injured in a bike crash


Last week, I wrote about a proposed law that would require drivers to allow five feet for safe passing when bicyclists are on the road. It’s likely this law, and accompanying bicycle safety bills will pass. And as an injury attorney, I know from my own cases with people who are hurt in bike accidents that it’s time we did more to protect riders on our roads.

As I mentioned last week, it’s not the bicyclists that are the issue with these serious and often disabling bike accidents with cars. It’s the drivers of cars, who are not watching for people riding bikes and are instead distracted or just used to watching out for other vehicles. They don’t “see” what is far too often plainly there to be seen because their brains aren’t scanning and looking for bicyclists. They are looking for cars.

No matter how safe and careful a bicyclist you are, bike accidents can still happen. But with some simple precautions, it is possible to minimize your risk of being involved in a serious bike crash. These tips will help protect you both before and after a crash occurs.

1. Carry your personal information

Whether you use a Road ID, dog tags, or place ICE (‘in case of emergency’) info in your mobile, having your personal information available for EMTs and police can save your life. This way, they’re aware of your identity, medications and allergies in case of a medical emergency. New iPhones come with a Health app that provides a place for you to fill in all your medical information; and emergency personnel can access the info without unlocking your phone.

2. Tell a loved one you’re riding

If you’re riding alone, leave a note, send a text or call a loved one to notify them of your whereabouts.

3. Wear your bicycle helmet

Bicycle helmets save lives and reduce the risk of head injury by 85%, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Here’s more information on how to fit a bicycle helmet.

4. Protect your head

Concussion and traumatic brain injury are some of the most common bicycle accident injuries. Yet some riders don’t even know they have these serious head injuries, as the symptoms can progress, worsen or change over a period of time. But remember, these can be life-threatening and a bicycle fall with a blow to the head must be taken seriously. Please call 911 if any of the following circumstances exist after a bike crash:

  • A cracked helmet.
  • A headache.
  • Lost of consciousness.
  • Confusion.
  • Dizziness.
  • Vomiting.
  • Vision changes.

5. Take a deep breath to check for broken rib(s)

Another common bicycle accident injury is the broken rib. So take a deep breath to assess the situation. If you have difficulty breathing, that’s a sign of a broken rib(s), and it’s always an emergency situation. Doctors will tell you that cracked ribs can have sharp edges and if it’s an unstable fracture and it shifts, you can puncture a lung.

6. Give yourself a belly check for internal bleeding

There’s a lot of vulnerable soft tissue and plenty of vital organs in your abdominal area that can be damaged by impact with a handlebar or other bicycle parts. Gently examine the area with your hands. If you feel tenderness, you could have internal damage, and if your belly becomes distended or firm, you may have internal bleeding and need medical help as soon as possible.

7. Stop the bleeding safely

Unless you’re a trained medical professional, forget what you’ve seen on television about fashioning a tourniquet around a limb to stop the bleeding, as EMTs say there’s a risk of harm. The best way to deal with bleeding is basic first aid, according to EMTs in published reports is, is to hold direct pressure with something clean on the wound until emergency help arrives.

8. Be smart about your back and back

Neck and spinal cord injuries are scary. Generally, you can tell if you’re okay by wiggling your fingers and toes. You want to make sure you feel them without numbness or tingling. Also try slowly turning your head 45 degrees to the left and right. But if you feel discomfort, stop, as that’s also a sign of spinal cord injury.

9. Know your time limits to file a bike accident lawsuit in Michigan

If you’re injured in a bicycle accident involving a car or truck in Michigan, you can still receive Michigan auto No fault insurance benefits.  You can also bring a lawsuit for your injuries and pain and suffering and recover compensation for injuries. You have one year from the date of the bike accident to file for Michigan No Fault insurance benefits and you three years to file a lawsuit for pain and suffering.

A person injured in a bike accident that happens without a car or truck involved cannot collect Michigan auto No Fault insurance benefits.

For more information, take a look at our blog post, “What happens if I’m injured in a bicycle accident in Michigan?”

10. Ask questions

It never hurts to run your questions by an experienced accident lawyer in Michigan, who can provide you information about important time limits and insurance coverages that may further protect you after a serious bicycle accident involving a car or truck.

Feel free to call Michigan Auto Law at 800-777-0028. Our attorneys are here to answer all of your questions, at no cost.

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