Nunley Wheelock cares about and fights for Motorcyclists and their rights. Nunley Wheelock has diligently represented motorcyclists for years. The firm not only represents victims and riders but also rides. The firm understands the challenges riders face post accident and is here to fight for you.
Michigan Motorcycle Accident Law Basics
Motorcyclists are about 26 times as likely as a passenger car occupant to die in a traffic crash.
A motorcycle injury accident is extremely dangerous because of the lack of protection the motorcycle drivers have. A large number of motorcycle accidents will result in death or serious injury. Motorcyclists are especially susceptible for being overlooked by other drivers because of their size. There are different laws regarding motorcycle accidents, so if involved in a motorcycle accident it is a good idea to contact Nunley Wheelock, P.C., experienced in motorcycle accidents.
The vast majority of motorcyclists use every possible safety precaution to avoid accidents. Often, is is the other driver’s mistakes that often cause very serious consequences. There is no way to eliminate risk in driving a motorcycle, and serious accidents occur to even the most skilled bikers. As most riders will tell you there are two types of riders, those who have been in an accident and those who will be in an accident.
Michigan has laws that define what rights a cyclist has if involved in an accident. First, Michigan law does not consider a motorcycle to be a motor vehicle. This important technical distinction results in considerably different rights for motorcycle accident victims than victims of automobile accidents. Therefore, you should immediately contact our office if you are involved in a motorcycle accident to protect your rights.
Motorcycle Accident Statistics
- Motorcyclists are about 18 times more likely to be in a fatal accident and 3 times more likely to be injured than those in passenger cars.
- The fatality rate for motorcyclists was 3.6 times greater than the fatality rate for occupants of passenger cars.
- 41% of the 1,203 motorcycle operators who were killed in single-vehicle crashes were intoxicated.
- Helmets were approximately 29% effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcyclists.
- 49% of young motorcyclist who were fatally injured in motorcycle accidents were not wearing helmets at the time of the crash.
- Approximately 75% of motorcycle accidents involved collision with another vehicle — usually a passenger automobile.
- Motorcycle equipment failure accounts for less than 3% of motorcycle accidents — usually due to a puncture flat.
- In single vehicle accidents, motorcycle rider error causes 66% of motorcycle accidents – the typical error being a slide out and fall due to over braking or running wide on a curve due to excess speed or under-cornering.
- Roadway defects (pavement ridges, potholes, etc.) were the accident cause in 2% of motorcycle accidents.
- Weather is not a factor in 98% of motorcycle accidents
- The median pre-crash speed was 29.8 mph and the median crash speed was 21.5 mph.
- Less than 10% of the motorcycle riders involved in accidents have insurance of any kind to provide medical care or replace property.
- Motorcycles – Motorcycles are involved in such a high number of traffic collisions, because they are so hard to see on the road.
- Approximately three-fourths of the motorcycle collisions studied involved a collision with another vehicle.
- Approximately one-fourth of the motorcycle collisions studied involved a collision with the roadway or a fixed object in the environment.
- One percent of the collisions studied involved an animal.
- In two-thirds of the collisions that involved another vehicle, the driver of the other vehicle was at fault by violating the motorcycles right-of-way.
- 92% of the motorcycle collisions studied, involved motorcycle riders that were self-taught or learned from family or friends.
- Injury severity increases with speed, alcohol involvement, and motorcycle size.
- In the motorcycle collisions studied, less than ten percent of the riders had insurance to cover medical care or to replace property.
Tips for Driver and Motorcycle Riders
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration suggest the following safe driving tips that can be used to safely share the road with motorcyclist:
- Respect the motorcyclist: Remember, motorcycles are vehicles with all the privileges of any vehicle on the road. Give the motorcyclist a full lane of travel.
- Look out: Watch for motorcycles on the highway, at intersections and when they make left turns or lane changes.
- Anticipate a motorcyclist’s maneuver: Obstructions that you may ignore- such as debris or potholes- can be deadly for a motorcyclist. Anticipate evasive actions taken by motorcyclists.
- Allow plenty of space: Don’t follow a motorcycle too closely. Allow enough room for motorcyclist to take evasive actions.
Motorcycle Safety Tips
In an average year 166,000 Americans will be hospitalized as a result of a motorcycle accident. 4,700 of them die. Many others will be crippled. Why? Three primary reasons:
1. A motorcycle is harder to see;
2. A motorcycle offers little or no protection; and
3. A motorcycle’s handling is tricky.
The following are tips from the NHTSA for the motorcyclist:
- Wear protective clothing: The most important factor in reducing injury is personal protection. Leather jackets, gloves, long pants, proper footwear, eye protection, and helmets that provide this personal protection.
- Ride where you can be seen: Make sure you can be seen by drivers around you. Never ride in another driver’s blind spot.
- Drive defensively: Drive your motorcycle defensively; always watch out for others around you.
- Leave a buffer zone: Give yourself extra space in your lane for emergency braking situations or other avoidance maneuvers.
- Single lanes: Never share a lane with a car. A driver may not expect you to be there and may not be aware of your presence. Most drivers are looking for vehicles, not motorcycles.
- Use signals: Always clearly signal your intentions to other drivers. Signal before changing lanes, make your lane move gradually, and never weave between lanes.
- Maintain your motorcycle: Make sure your motorcycle is in good condition. Have your motorcycle inspected to insure good mechanical condition.
- Light-colored clothing: Wear fluorescent or light colors during the day and reflective materials in the evening and at night. Remember, See and Be Seen!
- A study conducted by Harry Hurt at the University of Southern California, called “Motorcycle Collision Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures”
What to do after a Motorcycle Accident
Your response immediately after an accident is important to preserve the evidence essential to any potential claim. If possible, obtain the following information.
- Obtain the name, address, and telephone number of the other driver(s).
- Obtain the drivers license number(s) of the other driver(s).
- Obtain the insurance information of the other driver(s).
- Obtain the make, model and year of the other vehicles(s) and check the vehicle registration. Take down the vehicle owner’s name and address, if it is a person or corporation or entity different from the driver. If it is a company vehicle, write down the name and address of the company. If it is a leased or rented vehicle, write down the name, address and telephone number of the rental company.
- Give the other driver(s) your name, address, driver’s license number and insurance information.
- Look around immediately and identify any and all possible witnesses to the accident. Ask for their names, addresses, telephone numbers (both home and work), and where they work. If they do not want to get involved, take down their car license plate number and state.
- Listen carefully to what the other driver(s) say about the events leading up to the accident, e.g., “I didn’t see you.” and write it down.
- Call the Police, or have someone else call the Police immediately. The police officer will generally interview all drivers and take witness statements from all witnesses still present. The police may also collect vital physical evidence and make important skid or debris measurements useful in “reconstructing” the point of impact and vehicle speeds upon which the auto driver’s liability will often turn.
- Ask the police officer to find out where the other driver was going. If the driver was on an errand for his or her employer, “in the course and scope of his or her employment,” you may find you have another good “potential defendant.”
- Follow through on all medical care, treatment, and therapy recommended by you physician(s).
- Contact our office. It is critical that you find the appropriate attorney to represent you right from the start.
- Do Not sign any writings by the other driver purporting to summarize the facts of the accident.
- Do Not get into an argument with the other driver(s) about what happened.
- Do Not have your bike repaired. Not until you have an attorney who can have the bike inspected, photographed, and provide the Insurer or Defense Attorney notice and an opportunity to inspect the bike.
- Do Not permit anyone to interrogate you about the events of the accident, particularly the other party’s attorney, representatives of the other party’s insurance company, or even representatives of your own insurance company. If your insurance policy requires that you report your accident within a time certain, this is another reason to obtain an attorney immediately.
- The major dangers associated with communications with other parties, their attorneys, their insurance representatives and your insurance representatives can all be avoided by immediately by contacting our office.
Michigan Motorcycle Accident Claims:
Michigan Third-Party Claims
The most noticeable claim available to those seriously injured in Michigan motorcycle accident is that arising from the negligence of the at-fault vehicle in the collision. Most motorcycle injury accidents are the fault of negligently driven automobiles. Michigan law requires that a lawsuit against an at-fault driver/owner in a collision be filed within 3 years of the date of the accident.
In order to prevail in an ordinary Michigan motorcycle injury case, the injured party will have to demonstrate that the other motorist involved was more than 50% responsible for the accident. A legal term frequently used to describe this concept is to say that it is necessary for the injured party to demonstrate that the person being sued was “negligent” as defined by Michigan law. You should contact our office to determine whether you have a Third Party claim.
Michigan No-Fault Claims
Michigan No-Fault benefits are also generally available to Michigan motorcycle accident victims. These are benefits for economic damages. These benefits are designed to provide medical benefits, wage loss, attendant care and replacement services to injury victims. Indeed, no-fault benefits are often crucial to the economic survival of the seriously injured, and Michigan law only allows one year to establish a proper claim for these benefits and secure necessary payments. Determining the proper insurance company responsible for paying no-fault benefits to an injured cyclist can be complicated.
Michigan Motorcycle Order of Priority
1st priority — is to the insurer of the owner of the motor vehicle involved in the accident, if none then…
2nd priority — is to the insurer of the operator of the motor vehicle involved in the accident, if none then…
3rd priority — is to the motor vehicle insurer of the operator of the motorcycle involved in the accident, if none then…
4th priority — is to the motor vehicle insurer of the owner of the motorcycle involved in the accident, if none then…
5th priority — is to the Assigned Claims Facility.
Road Fault Claims
Some motorcycle accidents are not caused by negligent motorists, but are instead the result of a flaw in the roadway. These defects could be the result of faulty road design, disrepair, inadequate maintenance, or failure to remove a road hazard.
A claim against a public entity for defective road repair or inadequate design is often subject to complex filing requirements. In addition, the timeline for filing these claims is much shorter than those allowed for the pursuit of other legal actions. Often, an attorney will have to work hard to establish that the responsible party either knew of the road defect or reasonably should have known about the defect. These are known as “Notice” and “Constructive Notice”. Contact our office if you feel that there may be a road defect claim.
Our Motorcycle Accident Qualifications
Many motorcycle riders throughout Michigan are familiar with the professionalism generated personally by our firm. The attorney handing motorcycle accidents cases is not just an attorney but also an avid rider for many years.
Most of our clients were referred to our office by satisfied clients who we assisted in the past. Additionally, other attorneys have referred friends and family members to our office, confident that their claim would be handled by an extraordinary team of professionals. If our office makes a claim on an injured individual’s behalf, the insurance companies know the matter is to be taken seriously.
Despite all this, the most important component of our firm is our commitment to our clients. Obtaining the largest settlement possible on your behalf is our goal. We understand the serious nature of the injuries sustained by our clients, and are 100% committed to helping our clients through the difficult times. Every client is important to our office, and with every case we want to fight to achieve the best possible result.