Why you need a Bicycle Accident Lawyer in Michigan
In 2018, there were 1,546 accidents involving bicyclists across the state of Michigan. In these crashes, 23 people were killed and 1,233 were injured. Because they are basically unprotected in a collision with a motor vehicle, bicyclists are far more likely to sustain serious or fatal injuries than automobile drivers.
In addition, the No-Fault insurance laws pertaining to bicycle accidents are complicated, which can make it difficult to obtain the benefits you are entitled to.
This is why it’s important to contact us as soon as possible if you or a loved one is injured in a bicycle accident. Our knowledgeable legal team will help you obtain the compensation you and your family deserve.
DAMAGES IN BICYCLE ACCIDENT CASES
Victims of bicycle accidents often suffer serious and debilitating injuries due to the accident. Even if the car was going at a low speed at the time of impact, the sheer force of a car coming into contact with a person on a bike could have devastating consequences. Victims may lose substantial income from work or may have to take significant time away from school.
In addition, the injured party may have to deal with serious injuries and the resulting consequences, such as major surgery, extensive rehabilitation, and permanent disability. In personal injury law, these losses are referred to as damages. Damages may also include medical bills.
By bringing a personal injury case against the negligent driver, if successful, the victim may be able to make a substantial recovery. This recovery may include the cost of any medical bills for past and future medical treatment needed due to the accident. Additionally, compensation can include reimbursement for wages lost, as well as a sum for pain and suffering as a result of the injuries sustained in the bicycle collision.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU HAVE BEEN HURT IN A BICYCLE ACCIDENT
Of course, the first and most important step you should take after getting injured in a bicycle/car collision is to get medical care right away. Once you have gotten any necessary medical treatment, you can begin focusing on your personal injury case. To help build your case against the negligent driver, it is a good idea to take pictures of the scene of the accident, as well as your bicycle and the vehicle involved if you are able to do so.
You will also want to be sure to preserve any necessary evidence, including the bicycle itself, even though you may be inclined to throw it out if it has been damaged beyond repair. Finally, it is important not to speak to the at-fault driver’s insurance company. An insurance adjuster from the company that insures the driver of the vehicle may contact you and request a recorded statement from you. Even if you are confident that you can accurately relay your version of the events, you should wait and consult with an attorney before you agree to a statement of any kind.
Contact us before you speak with the at-fault driver’s insurance company. Without consulting with a bicycle accident attorney, you may end up prematurely settling your case for less than you deserve. Our law firm has bicycle accident lawyers ready to fight and win your accident case. Don’t delay in getting the compensation that you deserve.
MORE INFORMATION ON BICYCLE ACCIDENTS:
How Does No-Fault Insurance Work?
No-Fault insurance basically means what the name implies. If you are injured in an accident, your own insurance policy covers your medical expenses and other related costs even if you were at fault. These are considered first-party benefits, which include Personal Injury Protection (PIP) and Property Protection Insurance (PPI).
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits include the following:
Lifetime coverage of:
- 100% of reasonable and necessary medical costs
- Attendant or nursing care in the victim’s home
- Mileage for medical appointments
- Rehabilitative services
Coverage for up to three years:
- 85% of lost wages
- Survivor loss benefits
- Up to $20/day for replacement services such as household chores or yard work the victim is unable to do as a result of the accident
Non-economic or third-party damages:
An accident victim may be entitled to non-economic damages, also known as "third-party" benefits. These include bodily injury and property damage.
Compensation for bodily injury is only available to drivers who were less than 50% at fault for the accident. While the most common category of non-economic damages is the victim’s pain and suffering, family members may also be eligible for damages such as a "loss of consortium" or companionship.
To recover these damages, the victim must file a claim against the at-fault driver. What is more, bodily injury compensation is reserved for the most critical situations, a condition the law considers to be a "threshold injury."
Under Michigan law, there are three types of threshold injuries:
- Permanent and serious disfigurement
- Serious impairment of body function
On June 11, 2019 the law was changed to include stricter thresholds for "serious impairment of body function." Victims must prove their injuries meet this new legal standard in order to win a case against a negligent driver. And, insurance companies and their attorneys often make this more difficult by claiming the victim’s injuries do not meet the legal requirements for threshold injuries.
In addition, although an injury may be severe, the amount of compensation is typically limited to the coverage provided by the responsible person’s insurance policy. The current minimum liability limit is $20,000 per person/$40,000 per accident. However, depending on the insured’s policy, additional coverage may be available.
Furthermore, if a case goes to trial, the court may award the victim an amount that exceeds the insured’s policy limits. In that case, the defendant would be personally responsible for the uninsured amount.
Because these cases involve complex legal issues, it’s important to contact us immediately if your injuries affect your ability to live your normal life.
Property Protection Insurance (PPI) coverage:
No-Fault policies include coverage up to $1,000,000 for the damage an at-fault driver causes to another person’s car or property. PPI coverage only applies to damage that is not covered by insurance.
How Long after an Accident can I Bring a Claim?
Michigan has a strict statute of limitations for filing claims or lawsuits following an accident. If you fail to meet the prescribed deadlines, you may not be able to receive the compensation you are entitled to.
Injured persons have one year to file a claim for Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits. This includes reimbursement for expenses such as wage loss, medical bills, attendant care, mileage, lost wages and replacement services. Medical and related expenses are covered for life, while lost wages and replacements are covered for up to three years. However, victims must file a claim within one year of incurring the first accident-related expense in order to receive these benefits.
Moreover, victims have three years from the date of an accident to file a claim for non-economic benefits such as pain and suffering. These third-party benefits, which can be substantial, are paid by the insurer of the driver or vehicle that was at fault for the accident. Victims are entitled to these damages only if they were less than 50% at fault for the accident.
In addition, minors have until one year after their 18th birthday to file a claim, regardless of when the accident occurred. There are other exceptions for military personnel, mentally incapacitated individuals and survivors of those killed in a car accident.
However, to make the strongest case, it’s important to begin as soon as possible while witnesses and evidence are still available. Contact our experienced legal team today for a free consultation so we can help you win the compensation you deserve.
What Do I Need to Win my Accident Case?
To receive non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, victims must prove they have suffered a "threshold injury," which Michigan law defines as: "...serious impairment of an important body function, serious disfigurement or scarring, or death."
It is common for the insurance company and their attorneys to avoid responsibility by asserting an injury does not meet this legal requirement.
However, if you have injuries that affect your ability to live your normal life, then contact our office to protect your rights and receive the compensation you deserve. Get the Bernstein Advantage® today.
Will my Medical Bills be Covered for Life?
Yes. Michigan No-Fault law provides unlimited lifetime coverage of all reasonable and necessary medical expenses incurred as a result of a car or truck accident. However, many factors may complicate payment of your medical bills. To qualify for medical expense reimbursement, a medical bill must be reasonable (in cost and necessity). In addition, you must actually have incurred the expense, meaning you must have already completed the appointment or procedure. The law does not provide pre-payment of future or estimated bills.
Also, insurance companies often try to avoid paying certain bills by disputing the amount or questioning whether a test or procedure ordered by your physician was medically necessary.
This is yet another reason you need a knowledgeable accident lawyer on your side. If you have questions about the way these complex issues apply to your situation, contact us now.
Two types of medical coverage are available under Michigan No-Fault insurance:
- Uncoordinated benefits
- Coordinated benefits
A coordinated policy requires your primary health insurance company to pay first. Then, your No-Fault insurance will pay what your primary health insurer does not cover. Your auto insurance policy states which type of benefits you have.
Nonetheless, it’s common for a primary health insurance policy and an auto insurance policy to contain contradictory language regarding which company is responsible. In addition, the two insurance companies may disagree about which policy is the primary payer.
On the other hand, an uncoordinated policy pays benefits, regardless of the presence of other health insurance.
If you are experiencing difficulty getting reimbursed for your medical bills in a timely manner, it is important to contact us immediately.
Can I Recover Lost Wages if I’m Unable to Work?
Yes. The Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits provided by your Michigan No-Fault policy cover up to 85% of your lost wages if you are unable to work as a result of the accident. This benefit is tax-free; however, it is limited to three years. In addition, there is a monthly cap, which is revised annually, on the amount you may receive.
Contact us for help addressing issues relating to lost wages and other No-Fault benefits.
Who Will Take Care of Me While I’m Recuperating at Home?
Your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits cover attendant care and nursing services if you need assistance while recovering at home. If you are severely injured, you may even need 24-hour care. Fortunately, your No-Fault policy will pay for these services as long as they are medically necessary.
In addition, a family member who is helping to take care of you may be entitled to reimbursement. While No-Fault law does not specify an hourly rate for a caregiver, the amount typically reflects the type and complexity of the services you receive.
Replacement Services for Chores and Errands
Your injuries may prevent you from performing your usual household chores and errands. If so, your No-Fault coverage will reimburse you up to $20 per day for up to three years for replacement services. Some of these services may include housework, lawn cutting, grocery shopping and meal preparation.
Your physician may need to provide a written statement identifying the tasks you are unable to do on your own.
Contact us for help with any issues relating to replacement services or other No-Fault benefits.
What if I’m Hit by a Drunk Driver?
If you are injured by a drunk (or drugged) driver, you may have several legal options available, depending on the situation.
First, you are entitled to the same Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits as any other accident victim covered by a No-Fault policy. For those who do not have No-Fault insurance, there is an "order of priority" that specifies the chain of responsibility.
In addition, depending on the severity of your injuries, you may also be entitled to non-economic damages such as pain and suffering. To recover these damages, which are often substantial, you will have to file suit against the insurance company of the at-fault driver. You will also have to prove you have suffered a "threshold injury."
This is defined by Michigan law as: "…serious impairment of an important body function, serious disfigurement or scarring, or death."
Insurance companies typically try to dispute these claims to avoid paying out large settlements to seriously injured victims. Therefore, you will have to provide extensive documentation and fill out numerous forms, tasks that are best handled by a skilled attorney.
Finally, you may have grounds for a "dramshop" claim. This is the legal term for a lawsuit against a liquor store, bar, or other business, which illegally sold alcohol to the person whose unlawful behavior caused an accident. Under Michigan law, it is illegal to sell alcohol to a minor (under age 21) or to an adult who is visibly intoxicated. Dramshop claims must be filed within 120 days after the victim retains an attorney. For all of the above reasons, it’s crucial to contact us immediately if your accident involved a drunk driver.
Am I Entitled to Reimbursement for Transportation to and from Medical Appointments?
Yes. Medical treatment, tests, and rehabilitative services often require traveling long distances on a regular basis. The Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits provided by every Michigan No-Fault policy include reimbursement for mileage traveled to and from medical appointments. Other expenses such as parking fees or tolls may also be covered. In addition, those who cannot drive due to their injuries may be reimbursed for other means of transportation such as cab or Uber rides.
What are "Uninsured" and "Underinsured" coverages?
Uninsured motorist coverage allows victims to collect benefits from their own insurance company when the at-fault driver is uninsured. This coverage also applies to accidents where the at-fault party could not be identified, such as a hit-and-run driver. While uninsured coverage is not required under Michigan law, it is recommended.
Underinsured motorist coverage provides an additional source of funds to cover expenses for serious injuries when the at-fault driver has insufficient coverage. While they may be purchased together, uninsured coverage does not automatically include underinsured coverage.
These claims are complex and require the expertise of a knowledgeable accident attorney. If you settle a claim too quickly, you could forfeit your right to additional compensation. That’s why you should contact us immediately if your accident involved an uninsured or underinsured driver.
Who Pays for the Benefits I Receive Under Michigan No-Fault Law?
Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits are typically covered by the injured person’s own No-Fault policy. These include medical bills, attendant care, lost wages and replacement services.
However, not every victim is covered by a No-Fault policy. Consequently, Michigan law includes an "order of priority" that specifies who is responsible for a victim’s injury-related expenses.
- The victim’s own No-Fault policy
- The insurance company that covers a resident relative of the victim (i.e. spouse, parent, or sibling)
- The insurance company that covers the owner of the other vehicle involved in the accident
- The insurance company that covers the driver of the other vehicle involved in the accident
- The Michigan Assigned Claims Plan (MACP)
The Michigan Assigned Claims Plan (formerly called the Michigan Assigned Claims Facility) is the state agency that helps uninsured victims receive coverage for their injuries. Visit www.michacp.org to apply for these benefits.
This order of priority changes if you were injured while riding a motorcycle, which is not considered a motor vehicle under Michigan No-Fault law.
Non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, are paid by the insurance company of the at-fault driver. However, to recover these damages, you must file a claim against the at-fault driver within the specified time limit. Victims will also have to provide extensive documentation proving their injuries are severe enough to meet the legal threshold. That’s why you should contact us immediately if you were seriously injured in an accident where another driver was at fault.
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