Bicycle/Motorcycle Accidents


In General

Bicycles and motorcycles are not “second class citizens” under Michigan law, but they are frequently treated like that.  They should normally enjoy the full protection of Michigan Law, including Michigan No Fault benefits where automobiles are involved in an accident.  These benefits are described more below.  Bicycle and motorcycle accidents present complicated factual and legal issues.  If an automobile is not involved, motorcycles often are not entitled to No Fault insurance benefits unless the insurance is bought separately.  Careful analysis of the motorcycle owner’s insurance and other insurance is required.  Generally there is a three-year statute of limitations for an injury claim such as this.  Investigation of a bicycle accident or motorcycle accident case is extremely important because the actions, speeds and locations of bicycles and motorcycles are frequently misreported. 


Michigan’s No Fault law has become increasingly complex during recent years, as the automobile insurance industry has guided the legislature’s and courts’ policies.  There are two important types of claims:  “First party claims” involve claims usually under your own insurance policy for medical, wage loss, and services; “Third party” claims involve claims against an at fault driver who caused a victim’s injuries.  Because insurance companies have become very aggressive in defending and denying victims’ claims, we recommend victims refrain from making statements to insurance adjusters until you have counseled with a personal injury attorney and learned what “key words” and “exclusions” may be involved in your case.  We have taken many, many No Fault cases to trial and obtained verdicts as well as settlements.  The No Fault Act citation is MCL 500.3101 et seq., see especially MCL 500.3135.  The statute of limitations for filing a claim for medical/wage/services/property is generally 1 year; the statute of limitations for filing a claim for automobile negligence is generally 3 years, although there are some exceptions.  Do not let an insurance company representative convince you to wait for “negotiations” to be completed before filing a suit, because the courts have held that a suit may expire regardless of what the insurance rep tells you.  Below are just a few of our results on behalf of bicyclists and motorcyclists. 


Bicyclist killed by teen-ager on dark highway: $1,125,000 settlement

A teen-ager who had smoked pot ran into the client, who was riding his bicycle on a dark highway.  The defendant claimed the pot did not affect his judgment; he also claimed that the client was at fault for riding in the dark.  The key to this case, again, was expert preparation.  We obtained permission from local law enforcement agencies to shut the road down, at night, while our illumination expert and our reconstruction expert performed a “videotape recreation” of the incident.  The owner of the car was also found liable under Michigan’s “owner liability act” for letting the teen-ager, who was a known substance abuser, drive.  Read News Article  (may take a minute to download)



Bicyclists struck from behind by commercial truck: $1,500,000-plus settlement during trial

Two experienced road cyclists were struck from behind by a commercial vehicle.  Significant back and head injuries were suffered.  The cyclists were obeying all rules.  The truck driver was
not initially ticketed.  After we became involved, a ticket was eventually issued for careless driving.  We worked closely with the treating doctors to understand and explain the significance of the head and back injuries.  Our insurance expertise was critical to success in this case.  We managed to obtain insurance settlements from the truck insurer and the errors and omissions policy of the insurance agency that had allowed the company’s liability policy to lapse.  In addition to the settlement, all wage loss and medical benefits have been paid.  After several days of trial, a settlement was reached with all of the insurance carriers. 


Driver pulls out in front of motorcycle causing death: $400,000-plus settlement

The driver of the car stopped at the stop sign but failed to see the oncoming motorcyclist.  She pulled directly in front of him causing the collision.  Sadly, he died leaving behind young kids.  The insurance company claimed that the car driver was not entitled to coverage because she was not a “resident” of her parents’ home.  Our investigation revealed that the driver was entitled to coverage, and after suing the insurance company and going to the Court of Appeals, we won.  All insurance money has been paid.


Commercial vehicle turns in front of motorcyclist: $725,000 settlement

The commercial vehicle driver claimed not to see the oncoming motorcyclist and made a left turn into her path.  The crash resulted in a complex wrist injury requiring multiple surgeries. The company tried to blame the motorcyclist for not taking evasive action.  After thorough investigation of company records, we determined that the commercial driver was in a hurry to remain on schedule, and therefore likely not being as careful as she should have been.


Bicyclist crashes hits unmarked street excavation: $515,000 settlement

A bicyclist tumbled, breaking his collarbone, after he hit an unmarked pavement excavation.  We sued the excavation company and a subcontractor.  We investigated construction permits and signage regulations. During the lawsuit, we reviewed medical records showing the cyclist also suffered a closed head injury.  The key to the case was obtaining a re-evaluation of the brain injury.


Motorcyclist passenger‘s ankle broken when cycle swerves to avoid debris: $100,000 settlement

The client was the wife of the motorcyclist driver.  As they were following a truck, a piece of equipment fell out of the truck, causing the motorcyclist to swerve and lose control.  The wife suffered a broken ankle.  The key to this case was proving the motorcyclist was not at fault for losing control – he actually saved their lives.



Driver pulls into oncoming motorcyclist’s lane: $200,000 settlement

A young man driving his motorcycle suffered a significant shoulder injury when an older driver made a left turn in front of him.  The motorcyclist was doing nothing wrong and the car driver claimed he thought he could “beat” the motorcyclist.  Unfortunately, the young man lost a military career.  After careful research, we were able to prove the value of his lost career, and the insurance company agreed to settle.



* These cases are chosen from many more, to illustrate some of the variety of the issues we have dealt with.


 

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