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Michigan Motorcycle Accident Compensation

If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident you need to be aware of Michigan law and seek the help of a Michigan motorcycle injury lawyer immediately.  If you haven’t been injured in a motorcycle accident, you should be aware of the laws and your rights in the event that you do have an accident someday.  In this article we will cover types of compensation, different types of motorcycle accidents, and safety tips

Motorcycle Lawsuits in Michigan

Michigan motorcycle accident laws are a little different from the laws that apply to car or truck accidents. This is because a motorcycle is not considered a “motor vehicle” according to the Michigan No-Fault Act. This can sometimes make the laws hard to understand, and is one of the many reasons it is important to have an experienced attorney at your side if you are going to court. 

Compensation for Motorcyclists in an Accident

A motorcyclist involved in an accident can receive compensation in two different ways:

“No-Fault Benefits” which 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 
  • Attendant care, also referred to as nursing services. 

It is important to note that if the motorcyclist in the accident is the owner of the motorcycle and does not have the required motorcycle liability coverage, he or she will be denied no fault benefits. 

“Personal Injury Protection” benefits

Personal Injury Protection or PIP insurance is not required by state law, so benefits will vary based on how much coverage you purchase (if any) when buying insurance. PIP benefits typically cover medical and other associated costs after a motorcycle accident, including:

  • Doctor bills
  • Lost wages
  • Hospital stays
  • Childcare
  • Funeral expenses

Consider checking your policy to understand your specific coverage. No matter how much or how little coverage your state laws require, ensure you have as much insurance as you need. 

Different Types of Motorcycle Accidents

Below you will find some helpful information about different types of motorcycle accidents and the laws pertaining to them.  You may also find out more by reading about Michigan’s motorcycle laws at Michigan.gov

Third-Party Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit

Third-party claim is a lawsuit that’s filed against the negligent driver who is responsible for causing a motorcycle accident in Michigan. The damages available in a third-party claim following a motorcycle crash include pain and suffering damages and excess economic benefits. The statute of limitations to make a third-party claim is three years from the date of the motorcycle accident.

This type of lawsuit is a negligence tort claim. Which is when the defendant does not intend to cause harm to the plaintiff, but the unreasonable act or failure to act (for example, running a red light) causes an injury to the plaintiff. To have a legitimate negligence claim, it is not enough for the defendant’s negligent act to have created harm to the plaintiff. The plaintiff must also show damages that resulted from the negligent act carried out by the defending party.

It is important to note, under Michigan No-Fault law, the owner or registrant of a motorcycle involved in a motorcycle crash can be denied No-Fault benefits if he holds legal title to the motorcycle, but does not have motorcycle insurance. This exception will not apply to other riders. It does not affect the ability of a motorcyclist injured in a car or truck accident to sue for injuries against the other driver involved in the accident.

First-Party Motorcycle Accident Claim

This type of lawsuit, called a first-party claim, No-Fault, or personal injury protection (PIP) claim, is between you and your insurance company. You would file this type of claim if the other party in an accident doesn’t have insurance, or if there was an accident that didn’t involve another vehicle.

The 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 
  • Attendant care, also referred to as nursing services. 

The statute of limitations to make a first-party claim is one year from the date of the motorcycle accident.  If you’ve been in an accident, you need to contact a Michigan motorcycle injury lawyer today.

If a motorcyclist loses control of the bike and has an accident (falls or hits a tree) then they are not entitled to No-Fault benefits because a motorcycle is not considered a “motor vehicle” according to the Michigan No-Fault law. The motorcyclist may be entitled to a separate motorcycle personal injury protection (PIP) benefits if they paid for it on their insurance policy.

Michigan Motorcycle Roadway Defect Claims

When an accident is caused by a defect in the road, the motorcyclist can make a claim directly against the local jurisdiction responsible for the road, or the state of Michigan itself. For a local municipality you must file the intent to sue within 120 days, and for the state of Michigan the intent to sue must be made within 6 months. These claims require that we establish that the responsible party knew about the defective road, or should have known about the defect.

Motorcycles and the Michigan Wrongful Death Act

When a motorcyclist in Michigan is killed due to the negligence of another driver, the surviving dependents or beneficiaries are entitled to monetary damages. The attorney must prove:

  1. The motorcyclist’s death was caused wholly or more than 50 percent as a result of the defendant’s actions.
  2. The defendant acted negligently.
  3. There is a surviving spouse, children, beneficiaries or dependents of the motorcycle accident victim.
  4. Monetary damages have occurred as a result of the victim’s wrongful death.

Compensation for wrongful death motorcycle fatalities is controlled by the Michigan Wrongful Death Act. A lawyer must open an estate and a personal representative appointed by the Michigan probate court will file a lawsuit on his or her behalf. Payments to the family of a rider killed in a motorcycle accident in Michigan must first be authorized by the probate court before any proceeds from a Michigan wrongful death lawsuit can be distributed.  You need a competent Michigan motorcycle accident lawyer to help you navigate this.

If the Motorcyclist Was Not Wearing a Helmet

If you were not wearing a helmet and were involved in an accident that was not your fault, you can still file a personal injury lawsuit, however the amount of damages (money) you receive may decrease if you are not properly represented by a personal injury attorney. 

This because the defendants attorney will often argue that the injuries sustained to the brain were not the fault of the person who caused the accident, but the motorcyclist for choosing not to wear a helmet.

The jury will be asked to determine how much of the motorcyclist’s own negligence contributed to the cause of the injury. Damages that the plaintiff can recover will then be based upon that determination. This is called comparative negligence.

When the Motorcyclists is at fault

A motorcycle is not considered a “motor vehicle” according to the Michigan No-Fault Act. This means that the plaintiff can claim damages they would not normally be able to collect if the injuries were suffered from an ordinary car or truck accident. 

A person suing a motorcyclist who is at-fault for an accident can sue for any injury. Not just those set forth by the Michigan No-Fault Act, which are serious impairment of a body function or permanent and serious disfigurement.

When the motorcyclist is at fault in an accident, his or her insurance company will provide legal representation and pay up to the liability policy limits for any injuries or damages sustained by other parties.

Even if the motorcyclist caused the accident, he or she is still entitled to Michigan No-Fault benefits, assuming the motorcyclist is the owner of the motorcycle and has insurance. However, if no other driver is involved in the accident (motorcyclist loses control of the bike and falls) then they are not entitled to No-Fault benefits because a motorcycle is not considered a “motor vehicle” according to the Michigan No-Fault law. The motorcyclist may be entitled to separate motorcycle personal injury protection (PIP) benefits if they paid for it on their insurance policy.

Michigan Motorcycle Safety Tips

Motorcycle accidents are down below 5,000 deaths for 2018 (https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/motorcycle-safety), but motorcyclists are still more likely to be involved in a fatal accident. About 28 times more likely than a car occupant. Below are some tips to increase safety:

Have a proper License

Riding a motorcycle requires different skills and knowledge from driving a car. About a third of motorcycle fatalities in 2017 involved bikers without a license. Getting a license involves getting training that could save your life. Here is a list of locations in the west Michigan area where you can get training: https://www.michigan.gov/sos/0,4670,7-127-1627_46351_61092-275331–,00.html

Wear Proper Protection

If you’re involved in a serious accident, your best hope is wearing proper protection, and that starts with a DOT approved helmet. For help choosing the right helmet, click here. Additionally, arms and legs should be covered with leather or heavy denim. Feet should be protected with shoes or boots that cover the ankles. High visibility gloves can help other motorists on the road see you, and protect your hands in the event of a collision. Wearing clothes with reflective strips can also make you more visible to other drivers on the road. 

Be Responsible

Experienced riders value safety. They follow the laws, including the speed limit, traffic signals. They ride defensively and keep a safe distance from other vehicles. Being safe and making responsible choices starts with you. That means staying sober when you’re going to be riding a motorcycle. 

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