Michigan Motorycle Accident

Riding a motorcycle is exhilarating. The vibration of the bike beneath you, the wind pushing against you, and the concrete whizzing past just below your feet can lead to an incredible sense of freedom and a different perspective on the world around you and even life itself. Unfortunately, motorcyclists face unique risks and dangers every time they ride. Sharing the road with cars and trucks makes riding a motorcycle a risky endeavor no matter how careful you are when riding. Hazardous conditions of the roads themselves can also create dangers for a motorcyclist.

Even wearing full protective gear, a biker has significantly less protection than a person in a car or truck – so when accidents happen, they are often more catastrophic than a collision between cars or trucks. “Minor accidents” or “fender benders” are rare for bikers. Bikers who are hit by a car are often thrown a significant distance and can suffer very severe or even fatal injuries. Dealing with the aftermath of a motorcycle accident can be physically, emotionally, and financially overwhelming.

At Gruel Mills, our Grand Rapids motorcycle accident attorneys care about protecting motorcyclists’ rights, and we handle the hassles and deadlines so our clients can concentrate on healing. We have the experience and legal knowledge to help our clients and their families recover the maximum amount of compensation available. Even if you are not sure you have a case, call us for your no-cost consultation with one of our lawyers.

There Is a Difference Between a Motorcycle Accident and a Car Accident

Everyone on the road faces certain inherent dangers, but motorcyclists are statistically much more likely to sustain severe or fatal injuries in a crash.

  • The chances of a fatality in a motorcycle accident are approximately 30 times higher than in a car.
  • Motorcycle accidents have a staggering 80 percent injury or death rate, while car accidents remain around 20 percent.
  • Motorcycle riders over 40 years old are about 20 times more likely to be injured in an accident than car drivers of the same age.

Survivors of motorcycle accidents, more often than not, are left with serious head, neck, and spine injuries, all of which can leave a crash victim with lifelong disabilities. While these same injuries happen in some car and truck accidents, they are more common when the victim is a biker with limited protection. Motorcycles are simply less crashworthy.

We have helped thousands of our neighbors in Grand Rapids and around West Michigan over the past three-plus decades address personal injury issues, and we are humbled to hear words like: “Utmost professionalism,” “Exceeded my expectations,” “Went above and beyond,” “Head and shoulders above them all,” and “Integrity and compassion” in our client reviews and testimonials.

Perception Is Not Reality

Stereotypes abound regarding bikers, from the vest-wearing outlaw to the daredevil teenager who drives recklessly. Bikers can face unfair bias due to these stereotypes. But in reality, very few bikers actually fit the common stereotypes. The median age of a motorcycle rider is 50, and 26 percent of bikers have a four-year college degree, while an additional 16 percent have gone on to study post-graduate work. Nearly 20 percent of riders are women. 71 percent of riders say they have taken at least one safety training course.

Many motorcycle clubs, rather than being outlaws, actually commit themselves to serving their communities and helping others. Clubs often host charity events and fundraising rides, attend the funerals of fallen soldiers or veterans, collect toys for sick children, and ride to raise awareness of important causes. These clubs are no different than any other social or philanthropic club.

Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents

Although motorcycles are less visible and less stable than cars and trucks, drivers still have the responsibility to watch out for bikers and drive safely and considerately around them. Motorcyclists have the same right to the road as passenger vehicle drivers. Bikers are not responsible for an accident caused by someone else’s negligent actions. Those responsible for careless behavior should be held accountable.

In 2021, there were 3,271 motorcycle accidents in Michigan. 210 of those were in Kent County alone, which is the third-highest in the state behind Wayne County (with 589 accidents) and Oakland County (with 256 accidents). The number of crashes in Michigan has increased each of the past three years, and fatalities increased by 9 percent from just 2020 to 2021.

Some of the causes of motorcycle crashes are:

Dangerous intersections

Grand Rapids has three of the top 20 most dangerous intersections in the state:

  • 28th Street at Division Avenue
  • Burton Street at US-131
  • US-131 at Wealthy Street

Recent data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reveals that 34 percent of motorcycle accident fatalities occurred at intersections and 61 percent of those intersections were in urban areas.

Road damage and construction

Michigan winters are hard on our roads. The freeze and thaw cycle causes potholes, cracks, and other damage to the roads that can be dangerous for bikers. Road Commissions have a duty to keep the roads in safe condition for all road users, including motorcyclists. If they fail to fix a dangerous condition that may cause a biker to lose control of their motorcycle, they can be held liable for injuries that result.

Road construction also seems to be ever present here in Grand Rapids and throughout West Michigan. Maintaining and upgrading our infrastructure often results in uneven pavement, lane merges, potholes, debris, and loose gravel — all dangerous situations for a biker. If a construction team creates a hazardous condition for bikers, they can be held liable for their actions.

Negligent Drivers

A predominant cause of motorcycle accidents is the failure of a motorist to notice a biker or not see the motorcycle in time to avoid a collision. When drivers switch lanes without using a turn signal and/or checking their mirrors and blind spots, a biker is likely to become an accident victim. A car or truck driver can easily misjudge the distance of an approaching bike, or fail to check all approaching traffic and turn directly into a motorcycle.

Motorcyclists also face risks that have nothing to do with their choice of vehicle: car and truck drivers who violate traffic laws, engage in aggressive driving or road rage, or are distracted, impaired, or fatigued.

The nationally acclaimed attorneys at Gruel Mills will secure and review all documentation (such as police and emergency response reports, witness statements, photographs, and surveillance camera recordings) to present compelling evidence against the negligent driver or road commission. We are dedicated to securing the compensation our clients need and deserve.

All Things Are Not Equal

In Michigan, the law treats motorcycle accidents differently from car or truck accidents. A motorcycle is not considered a motor vehicle under Michigan’s No-Fault law, which impacts when a motorcyclist will be entitled to No-Fault benefits such as medical expenses and wage loss. There are complex rules regarding when a motorcyclist looks to their own insurer for benefits and when they may collect benefits from the at-fault driver or the owner of a car or truck who causes the crash. The No-Fault Act also imposes constraints on when the at-fault driver or vehicle owner can be sued.

Due to this complex law regarding motorcycles, it can be difficult to identify who can be held responsible for a crash and which insurance companies should be involved. Dealing with an insurance company can also be difficult following any personal injury. At Gruel Mills, we have extensive experience helping the victims of motorcycle accidents. We know how to present motorcycle claims to an insurance company in order to get the maximum possible compensation for the biker and/or their family. We do not back down if an insurance company will not pay a fair settlement. We have the skill, resources, and determination to ensure injured bikers or their families receive the best possible outcome after a crash.

Our Clients Often Ask

Why should I hire a Grand Rapids lawyer?

Hiring a lawyer who practices in Grand Rapids and throughout West Michigan has definite benefits. Our office is easy to get to, and we can visit you in your home or the hospital if needed. We have been practicing in this area for more than 35 years, during which time we have developed a great reputation in area courts and among other attorneys. Attorneys and judges in the area know that we tell the truth and zealously represent deserving clients.

In addition, because we are your hometown lawyer, we:

  • Are familiar with the customs of the local courts and the workings of the city and county’s legal system;
  • Are likely to be familiar with the opposing attorney; and
  • Have relationships with or know of local professionals (physicians, experts, financial professionals) who may be of help with a case.

What should I bring to our first meeting?

During the initial consultation, it helps to bring a copy of the police or accident report, pictures taken at the accident scene, and any medical records documenting injuries.

I was not wearing a helmet when I was injured, will this count against me?

We strongly recommend all bikers wear a helmet. Studies show that for every 100 people killed in a motorcycle collision, about 40 of them could have been saved if they were wearing helmets. Helmets also reduce the risk of devastating head injuries by about 70 percent.

Michigan does not have a universal helmet law. The law requires helmets for those under age 21, but does not require them for adults who meet certain requirements regarding insurance, safety courses, and length they have held a motorcycle endorsement. Nonetheless, the argument can be made in litigation that a biker was partially at fault for their injuries if they did not wear a helmet. We know how to defend against such an argument and ensure that it will not significantly impact your recovery.

Do most motorcycle accident cases go to trial?

No, most motorcycle accident claims settle out of court. You always have the final say on whether to accept a settlement offer. If we cannot reach an acceptable settlement, we will vigorously pursue your claim through trial.

Do I have a viable case if I crashed because I hit a pothole?

Possibly. You may hold a government (state, city, or county) agency liable for an injury-causing accident if it fails to keep the roadway in reasonably good condition. There are unforgiving timelines for bringing a claim of negligence against such entities, including requirements that notice is provided within a short time after the crash. If you have been injured by traveling on a road that is in poor condition, contact us as soon as possible to discuss your case.

Motorcycle Accidents Result In Serious Injury And Financial Losses

When a car or truck strikes a motorcycle, it is likely that the biker and any passenger will be thrown off the bike—skidding along the road, crashing into guardrails, or even flung into the path of oncoming traffic. With little physical protection under those circumstances, a biker may suffer catastrophic and possibly fatal injuries.

Victims of motorcycle accidents often require surgery, extended hospital stays, and long-term physical and mental health therapy. Catastrophic injuries can be life-changing, frequently resulting in permanent disability, disfigurement, and disruptions to a family unit.

  • Shoulder injury
  • Multiple fractures
  • Road rash
  • Traumatic amputation

Emotional trauma can be as devastating and debilitating as a severe physical injury. The psychological trauma of a motorcycle crash can often cause a person to experience post-traumatic stress disorder or similar symptoms.

Some of the consequences of emotional trauma and PTSD include:

  • Depression, fear, anger
  • Flashbacks to the time of the crash
  • Anxiety when driving or riding on a motorcycle or in a car
  • Bad dreams, nightmares
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Social withdrawal
  • Hypervigilance
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Impaired memory
  • Problems with concentration

 Compensation for Financial Losses

A successful settlement in a motorcycle accident claim should fully compensate the victim for:

  • Current and past medical expenses
  • Expected and projected future healthcare costs
  • Necessary home or vehicle modifications

Those involved in motorcycle crashes frequently suffer physical injuries such as:

  • Spinal cord injury
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Lower extremely fractures
  • Facial lacerations
  • Eye trauma
  • Vehicle repair or replacement
  • Lost wages and benefits
  • Expected and projected future lost income and benefits
  • Compensation for diminished earning capacity
  • Pain and suffering

Our motorcycle accident attorneys at Gruel Mills understand the complicated issues surrounding the catastrophic injuries bikers may experience. We understand the dynamics of motorcycle collisions and know the laws and specific regulations that govern these specific claims. We are ready to fight for your right to compensation.

Who May I Hold Responsible for My Grand Rapids Motorcycle Accident?

Parties liable for your motorcycle accident may include:

  • Another motorcycle rider
  • Car drivers
  • Truck Drivers
  • Property owners
  • Government agencies
  • Manufacturers

What You Can Expect From Our Gruel Mills Motorcycle Accident Attorneys

We make a difference. For over 35 years, we have fought for and won millions in settlements for our clients. When you select our firm to represent you and your family in a motorcycle accident case, we support you through this difficult time as we go toe-to-toe with the insurance companies and negligent drivers.

Reach out to a Grand Rapids personal injury lawyer.

We will:

  • Thoroughly investigate the causes and effects of your accident
  • Explain your legal rights and the strengths and weaknesses of your case in terms you can understand
  • Obtain all police reports and witness statements
  • Identify all negligent parties
  • Gather evidence of negligence
  • Work with expert witnesses, investigators, and accident reconstructionists to build and present a compelling case
  • Identify and verify all of the insurance and coverage that may apply in your case
  • Negotiate with insurance companies on your behalf
  • Keep you updated every step of the way
  • Manage important documents and statute of limitations deadlines
  • Negotiate for the full and fair compensation you deserve
  • Take your claim to court, if necessary

If you or a family member are dealing with injuries and losses from a motorcycle accident, we are here to listen and to help. Contact us today at (616) 235-5500.

Grand Rapids Office Location

Campau Square Plaza Building
99 Monroe Ave NW #800
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

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