What Bike Commuters Need to Know About No-Fault Insurance

Many Michigan residents are giving their cars a break and becoming bike commuters. But riding on busy roads during rush hour puts riders at risk of serious bicycle accidents involving motor vehicles. Find out the facts on bike commuters and no-fault insurance: how your Michigan no-fault insurance can protect you when your bike gets hit by a car.

When No-Fault Insurance Applies to Bicycle Accidents 

Bike commuters ride mere feet from cars and trucks that can cause them serious injuries with just one wrong move. In 2015, there were 818 fatal bike-on-car accidents in the United States. Another 45,000 bicyclists were injured. Nearly 1/3 of all bike-related injuries were caused by a collision with a car. Because bike commuters don't have steel frames or airbags to protect them, they can be seriously injured even at low speeds.

The good news is that your mandatory auto insurance often applies when bicycle accidents happen. The Michigan No-Fault Act requires auto insurance providers to pay benefits whenever injuries result from the use of a motor vehicle as a motor vehicle. That includes when a car hits a bicycle, or when a car is involved in a bicycle accident. For example, if a car comes into the bike lane causing a cyclist to swerve into the curb and go over her handlebars, she can still file a no-fault claim for her injuries. Even though bike commuters aren't behind the wheel, they can still recover PIP insurance benefits when injuries are cause by a car or truck.

Non-Motor Vehicle Bicycle Accidents

Many bike commuting accidents may be the result of collisions with motor vehicles. But another 2/3 of bike injuries are caused by:

  • Falls
  • Poor road conditions
  • Rider error
  • Distracted riding
  • Collisions with stationary objects
  • Dogs

When those accidents happen, your no-fault insurance won't help you. Before you can file a claim for PIP damages there must be a motor vehicle involved. Even parked vehicles usually don't trigger PIP benefits. In those cases, your health insurance will be the policy covering your injuries. Most health insurance policies involve deductibles and co-pays that don't apply under no-fault insurance. If you are a committed bike commuter, you may want to be certain that you can afford the out of pocket costs that could come from a non-motor vehicle bicycle accident.

What PIP Benefits Cover in Bicycle Accidents

When a bicycle accident is the result of a motor vehicle, your no-fault auto insurance kicks in to make sure your needs are taken care of. If you are injured by a car, you can recover:

  • All your reasonably necessary medical expenses
  • Medically necessary attendant care costs (even if provided by a family member)
  • Up to 3 years of lost wages (at 85% of your gross annual salary)
  • Up to 3 years of medically necessary replacement services (such as child care or landscaping)

Reasonably necessary medical expenses can be a broad category. It can include everything from surgeries and hospital stays, to therapeutic massage and recreational therapy. Michigan auto insurance benefits for medical expenses also continue as long as you need it. If you have been permanently disabled because of a bicycle accident, you may be able to receive benefits for ongoing physical therapy and other medical needs for life. If you are permanently disabled it can also include medical equipment, including wheelchairs, ramps, and mobility bars. When a bike commuter becomes disabled, no-fault insurance may even cover an adaptive bicycle.

Full-time Bike Commuters Can Still Be Covered

Michigan law says that a person who is injured by a motor vehicle must first turn to his or her own no-fault insurance for benefits. If you are a full-time bike commuter, you may not have a car to insure, but that doesn't mean you will have to pay for your medical expenses out of pocket. The Michigan No-Fault Act applies to pedestrians, passengers, and bicyclists, even if they don't have insurance. The law sets out a priority list for coverage in a bicycle accident:

  • Any no-fault policy in the bicyclist's name
  • A policy owned by the biker's spouse
  • The policy of a relative who lives with the cyclist (this often applies to children injured in bicycle accidents)
  • The policy of the owner or driver of the vehicle that hit you
  • The Michigan Assigned Claims Facility, which applies when no other insurance is available

This priority list makes sure that no matter who caused your motor-vehicle related bicycle accident, or how you are insured, you won't be forced to pay for your medical expenses out of your family's savings. The law makes sure that you are covered until you can get up on your bike and back to work.

At Sachs Waldman, we have extensive experience helping bicycle accident victims recover PIP benefits from no-fault insurance providers. We can help you get your damages covered. Contact our Detroit personal injury law office at 1-800-638-6722.

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