Michigan motorcycle accident law has many exceptions, and is different not only from Michigan car or truck accidents, but also other states’ motorcycle accident laws. One of the most significant exceptions is that according to the Michigan No-Fault Act, a motorcycle is specifically excluded as a “motor vehicle”, therefore the basic laws of car or truck accidents do not apply with motorcycles. Below are the most important things every motorcycle rider should be aware of regarding motorcycle insurance and accidents on Michigan roads:
1. Michigan no fault benefits such as wage loss and medical bill compensation can only be collected under certain circumstances
The type of motorcycle accident you are involved in makes a huge difference in the types of benefits you can collect from insurance. The involvement, or lack of involvement of a car or truck in the accident determines whether you have a case or not. If a motorcycle rider was involved in an accident with a car or truck, he will qualify for Michigan no-fault benefits. The allocation of fault does not affect recovery of no-fault benefits for your motorcycle crash. In other words, even if the motorcycle operator was found 90 or even 100 percent responsible for the accident that caused his injuries, and therefore, was completely barred from recovery of any pain and suffering damages, he would still be entitled to no fault insurance benefits. These benefits include medical expenses related to the auto accident, wage loss for the first three years following the accident, household replacement services (chores/help with children), payment for mileage to and from medical appointments and attendant care (nursing services).
If the motorcyclist is the sole person in the accident and, for example, loses control of the bike, falls or hits a tree or pedestrian, then he is not entitled to no-fault benefits because a motorcycle is not considered a “motor vehicle” according to the Michigan no-fault law. The driver may be entitled to separate motorcycle PIP if they paid for it on their policy.
In order to win a motorcycle accident lawsuit, an injured motorcyclist must demonstrate that he was not more than 50 percent at fault for the motorcycle accident. A showing that the motorcycle operator was more than 50 percent at fault for the crash can completely bar any recovery for pain and suffering damages against a defendant.
If you are in an accident while operating an uninsured motorcycle for which you the “title” owner, you do NOT qualify for these important no-fault benefits.
2. You need more than just the basic insurance coverage
While a motorcycle is not considered a motor vehicle in Michigan, motorcyclists are still required by law to carry motorcycle insurance. The only insurance required for a motorcyclist is basic liability coverage for a personal injury suit and property damage (not collision), according to the Michigan no-fault law. But additional coverage may be warranted depending on your circumstances:
Have a newer bike? You will want collision coverage to cover the cost of repairing your motorcycle
Have a customized bike? Accessories and customization to your motorcycle is often not covered by insurance. Ask your agent if your current policy includes this, if not consider adding Accessories Coverage to your policy.
It is strongly recommended that you contact your insurance agent to purchase this additional coverage if you are an owner or registrant of a motorcycle in Michigan.
3. Failure to wear a helmet can affect a Michigan personal injury lawsuit
Some of the most frequently asked motorcycle accident questions are about motorcycle helmet laws in Michigan. Michigan law requires all people riding a motorcycle, and anyone less than 19 years of age operating a moped on a public thoroughfare to wear a crash helmet approved by the department of state police. If you were involved in a motorcycle crash and you were not wearing a helmet, you can still bring a lawsuit for your personal injuries. However, not wearing a helmet can make a difference in how much money you receive, if it can be shown that not wearing your helmet was also a partial cause (or aggravating factor) to your injuries.
Motorcycle accident injuries such as traumatic brain injury (TBI) and spinal injuries are the most common examples in which a defense lawyer or auto insurance company will argue that there was negligence on the part of the motorcyclist for choosing not to wear a helmet.
Too many juries have been less than forgiving in this regard. Experienced motorcycle accident attorneys will tell you of countless examples in which juries awarded compensation to a seriously injured motorcycle rider for a fractured arm, for instance, but gave nothing for TBI or back injuries because they were punishing the motorcycle rider for going without a crash helmet.
4. An at-fault motorcyclist is usually liable for injuries he caused in an accident
If a motorcyclist is at fault for an accident and is sued in a negligence lawsuit for personal injuries, he will generally be legally responsible for all of the damages he caused. The motorcyclist’s insurance will provide legal representation and property protection insurance to the person whose property is damaged, if needed. Also, a person suing a motorcyclist who is at fault for an accident can sue for any injury because again, a motorcyclist is not required to carry no fault insurance that motor vehicle operators are required to carry, and thus, the normal no-fault injury threshold would not apply. However, where the motorcyclist is involved with an automobile, some judges have occasionally held that if no-fault benefits have been paid, that the no-fault injury threshold also applies.
Michigan auto and motorcycle accident liability is different from all other states. Damages recoverable from a Michigan motorcycle injury accident will include claims through the victim’s own auto insurance company. If the motorcycle driver was determined to be at fault, claims against the negligent driver’s insurance involves pain and suffering damages and excess economic damages beyond Michigan’s No Fault maximums. All auto insurance policies sold in Michigan include some limited coverage for vehicle damage (mini-tort) and property damage.
Additional information, tips and important advice about successfully handling motorcycle accident cases can be found throughout the Michigan Motorcycle Accident Legal Resource Center. Every motorcycle accident case in Michigan is unique and most often, very challenging. There is never a down side to contacting a Michigan motorcycle accident attorney for a free review of your circumstances.