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Michigan’s Helmet Law: What You Need to Know

Michigan’s Helmet Law: What You Need to Know
Michigan’s Helmet Law: What You Need to Know

A recent study looked at the fatality rate for motorcyclists who don’t wear helmets. Have you or someone you know been injured in a motorcycle accident? We can help.

Recent media coverage of a University of Michigan study caught our attention. The headline reads, “Fatalities double for motorcyclists without helmets.” Those are some eye-opening statistics and they are certainly worth noting.

Michigan is among 31 states that allow motorcycle riders (ages 21 and older) to ride without helmets if they choose. The law also requires those choosing not to wear a helmet to carry at least $20,000 in accident insurance. Researchers say given the option, 75% of Michigan motorcycle riders still do wear helmets. It is the rider’s choice to ride with or without a helmet, and we respect that. But, motorcyclists should make an informed decision before they hit the road.

According to the study by UM and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the year after the law took effect (April 2012) the fatality rate for riders who did not wear a helmet was double that of motorcyclists who did wear one.

Here’s an excerpt from a Detroit Free Press article on the study:

The research covered the 12 months immediately prior to and after April 2012, when Michigan repealed its universal helmet law. The study examined police-reported motorcycle crash deaths and head injury data. For that two-year period there were 7,235 reports of riders who crashed in [Michigan.] Of those, 1,094 were hospitalized at trauma centers.

Over the two-year period, the number of motorcycle fatalities did not increase significantly, but the fatality rate among unhelmeted riders who crashed was 5.4%, nearly double the 2.8% rate among helmeted riders. The percentage of trauma patients with head injuries increased 14% in the year after the repeal.

We handle a large number of motorcycle cases and they are mixed, with riders who wear helmets and those who do not. Call us today at (855) MIKE-WINS to find out how we can help.

Here’s some important information about motorcycle accidents and Michigan’s no-fault insurance:

1. I’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident; what should I do?
Don’t negotiate or discuss a settlement before consulting a Michigan motorcycle attorney. At Mike Morse Law Firm, we have attorneys experienced in handling motorcycle accidents to help you obtain all of the benefits you are entitled to as a result of your injury.

2. If I’m an accident victim on a motorcycle and I sustain injuries at the fault of a motor vehicle driver, what compensation am I entitled to?
If someone else was at fault for an accident that injured you while you were on a motorcycle, you’re entitled to compensation for your pain and suffering – and next of kin can collect benefits in fatal accident cases. There are specific laws that govern compensation for serious injury claims on a motorcycle, which is one reason you should consult a Michigan motorcycle accident attorney for help. You may also be entitled to excess economic loss suffered as a result of the accident and injury. This means you may essentially have two claims — and you must be careful in dealing with insurance companies who may work to minimize payout of your benefits.

3. Do I need no-fault insurance on a motorcycle in Michigan?
No, but you WILL need to purchase traditional liability insurance for bodily injury death or property damage (typically called “PLPD coverage”). Why don’t you need no-fault insurance? Because, technically, a motorcycle isn’t a “motor vehicle” and ownership of a “motor vehicle” is what requires you to carry no-fault insurance.
Just because you don’t need no-fault doesn’t mean you can drive without insurance. If you do, you could face serious consequences, including fines and jail time. If you are not insured, you are not eligible to receive no-fault benefits. You can purchase something known as motorcycle PIP coverage, which is basically no-fault insurance for motorcyclists. However, few people actually do this.

4. If I’m injured on a motorcycle, can I collect no-fault insurance benefits in Michigan?
Yes — if you’re in an accident with a motor vehicle and sustain bodily injury. As answered above, in Michigan, a motorcycle is not considered a “motor vehicle” for no-fault insurance purposes — so a collision with another motorcycle (or non-vehicular object) would not apply. In addition, the motorcycle you’re operating or riding on must have the PLPD coverage for any possible benefit collection to occur. As experts in Michigan motorcycle accident laws, Mike Morse Law Firm can help you determine which benefits you are be able to collect and of course make sure you receive all of them.

5. What about the damage to my motorcycle?
If you’re looking to collect no-fault insurance benefits for any physical damage to the motorcycle, you may be out of luck. It works like this: If your bike is damaged after being struck by a car that is insured with Michigan no fault insurance, you will not be able to recover any compensation for damage to the motorcycle. If the driver that caused the damage to your motorcycle is not insured they become personally liable for any and all damage to your motorcycle.

6. If I’m injured on a motorcycle, am I entitled to no-fault insurance benefits if I also have health coverage?
In short: It’s complicated. The insurer of the motor vehicle involved has to pay for the medical expenses of the motorcyclist, regardless if the victim also has health insurance. But, the victim’s own policy may also be required to pay — depending on which policy is the secondary policy as stated in the outline of benefits. Sometimes, collection of no-fault benefits can be coordinated with health insurance benefits. It all depends on the specifics of each case and can be sorted out with a Michigan motorcycle accident attorney. Call us today at (855) MIKE-WINS to find out how we can help you.

Michigan’s Helmet Law: What You Need to Know

Content checked by Mike Morse, personal injury attorney with Mike Morse Injury Law Firm. Mike Morse is the founder of Mike Morse Law Firm, the largest personal injury law firm in Michigan. Since being founded in 1995, Mike Morse Law Firm has grown to 150 employees, served 25,000 clients, and collected more than $1 billion for victims of auto, truck and motorcycle accidents. The main office is in Southfield, MI but you can also find us in Detroit, Sterling Heights and many other locations.