The answer depends on how the crash happened. To better answer this question, let’s take a closer look at what’s expected of drivers and bicyclists in Michigan. In Michigan, bicycles on the roadway have the same rights and responsibilities as motorized vehicles.
What Rules Are Michigan Bicyclists Expected to Know?
- ride with traffic and follow the rules of the road
- obey traffic signals, signs, and markings
- use a white front light and rear red reflector light when riding at dusk or in the dark
- wear high visibility clothing and safety gear, including a helmet
- watch for debris that might cause them to fall or swerve
- watch for traffic, especially turning traffic
- ride no more than two abreast when riding on the road
Michigan bicyclists are also expected to know and use proper hand signals to signal their intentions, including the following:
What Rules Are Michigan Drivers Expected to Know?
- give at least three feet of space when passing bicyclists (some Michigan municipalities require five feet)
- obey traffic signals, signs, and markings
- yield to bicyclists as they would motorists
- obey posted speed limits
- stay alert and use caution at intersections, especially when turning
- watch their surroundings, including in parking lots and when backing up
- avoid “dooring” a bicyclist by checking for passing traffic before opening car doors
- look left, right, left before turning right on a red light, to check for bicyclists approaching from the right
Because of the size and speed differences, cyclists are almost always the ones injured or killed in bicycle/vehicle accidents. In 2020 and 2021, there were 38 and 29 bicycle fatalities in Michigan, respectively.1
What Can Prevent Car vs. Bike Accident Injuries?
- wearing a helmet that fits
- checking to make sure one’s bike works before riding it, such as checking the breaks
- carrying items in a backpack or strapped to the back of the bike
- tucking and tying shoelaces and pant legs to avoid getting caught in the bike chain
- planning the route in advance, and, whenever possible, choosing routes with less traffic and lower speeds
- using a bike lane or bike path whenever possible
- anticipating others’ actions
- assuming others don’t see you
- avoiding listening to music and other distractions while biking
- following the rules of the road
- avoiding or minimizing riding on sidewalks, as drivers often don’t expect moving traffic to enter the roadway from sidewalks
Knowing how, when, and where crashes happen can also help prevent bicycle/vehicle crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration:
- failing to yield the right of way is the highest factor in fatal bike crashes, followed by bicyclists not being visible;
- bicyclist deaths are highest during the summer months between June and September; and
- nearly three-quarters of all bicyclist deaths occur in urban areas.2
Even when bicyclists and motorists use caution, crashes can still happen.
So, Who is Liable When Crashes Happen – the Bike or the Car?
The answer depends on how and why the crash happened.
In general, if a bicyclist violated a traffic law and the driver did not, the bicyclist is responsible for the crash. Similarly, in general, if a driver violated a traffic law and the bicyclist did not, the driver is responsible for the crash.
Often, however, things are not that simple. At times, the driver and bicyclist both share some degree of fault for the crash. Under Michigan law, when this happens, the jury assigns a percentage of fault to each party, with the percentages adding up to 100%. For example, a jury may find a driver 80% at fault and a bicyclist 20% at fault. The amount of fault the jury assigns to each party affects how much the injured person is eligible to receive in damages.
If you were injured in a Michigan bike/car accident, you should talk to an experienced Michigan personal injury lawyer as soon as possible. It’s important to know your rights so that you can protect them.
Call or Contact Conybeare Law Office Now
Car and bike accidents are scary, painful, and traumatic experiences. It can be difficult to know who to talk to after a crash, but having an experienced Michigan car accident attorney can help alleviate much of the stress and uncertainty that comes after an accident. The knowledgeable car accident lawyers at Conybeare Law Office will help you understand your rights so you feel like you in are in control, and they will fight to get you the money you deserve. To learn more about the wide range of legal services offered to our Michigan car and bike accident clients, talk to our office today. Conybeare Law Office has offices in Saint Joseph and Kalamazoo, Michigan, and proudly serves all of southwest Michigan and beyond. Call or contact us for a free consultation. We look forward to talking to you.
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