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Answers to Your Top 5 Michigan Motorcycle Accident Questions

July 6, 2010 by Steven M. Gursten

Motorcycle accident lawyer gives free advice to protect bikers

As we return from the holiday weekend, I’d like to take the opportunity to talk about motorcycle safety again. There are so many more bikers cruising Michigan roads in the summer. And with more people riding motorcycles and crotch rockets, there are unfortunately, more motorcycle accidents.

Lately, our pre-lawsuit division of attorneys (who help auto accident victims in the early stages of their lawsuits) have been flooded with calls about motorcycle accidents. Many of the calls are from people who’ve been in crashes and don’t know what to do next.

Below are five of the most frequently asked questions about motorcycle crashes that our motorcycle accident lawyers receive. We have answered them in detail, and I hope they help better inform you of your legal rights. If need more information, please call (248) 353-7575 and one of our motorcycle accident lawyers will be on hand to speak with you at no cost.

Q. If a motorcyclist is at fault for an accident and is sued in a negligence lawsuit for personal injuries, who is responsible for damages?

A. 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 — as well as the title-owner of the motorcycle, if the two are different.

This is regardless of the auto injury thresholds set forth by the Michigan No-Fault Act that normally applies to accidents caused by automobiles. The auto injury thresholds says that someone injured in an auto accident must sustain serious impairment of body function, permanent serious disfigurement or death to receive damages in a lawsuit.

Q. What insurance is a motorcyclist in Michigan required to have?

A. The motorcycle accident lawyers of Michigan Auto Law tell our clients that the only insurance required for a motorcyclist is basic liability coverage for a third-party personal injury suit, according to the Michigan No-Fault Law. The coverage must be at least the minimum liability set by law.

A motorcycle owner can still purchase additional, optional contractual insurances, such as personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, which includes medical benefits and wage loss. A motorcycle owner can also purchase other insurance, such as uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) and underinsured motorist coverage (UIM) provide a valuable source of legal recovery when someone is injured in an auto accident by another driver who is uninsured or does not have adequate insurance.

Q. Because a motorcycle is not considered a “motor vehicle” in the Michigan No-Fault Law, does that mean an injured motorcyclist cannot have a case?

A. No. If another motor vehicle like a car or truck was involved in the motorcycle accident, a motorcycle accident lawyer can treat a motorcycle accident case just like a regular first-party or third-party auto accident case — if the motorcyclist has motorcycle liability insurance, or PPI coverage, which stands for Protection to the Property of Others. Read more about the Michigan motorcycle insurance law.

Q. How can an injured motorcyclist determine whether she can receive No-Fault benefits after a motorcycle crash?

A. There are three types of motorcycle accidents to consider when determining if Michigan No-Fault benefits will apply:

1. Motorcycle accidents involving an automobile that is not parked – The motorcyclist will qualify for No Fault benefits with one exception: If the motorcyclist is the “title owner” of the vehicle, she must have motorcycle insurance on her motorcycle, or she will be disqualified.

Assuming the motorcycle is insured and if there is collision coverage on the motorcycle policy, that coverage will pay for the damage to the motorcycle. If the motorcyclist is at fault for the accident, the motorcycle insurer will provide legal representation for the claim and will pay up to the liability policy limits to any injured parties. Other than that, the motorcycle insurer plays no part in paying Michigan No-Fault benefits.

2. All other scenarios, including accidents with parked automobiles – The motorcycle does not qualify for normal auto No-Fault benefits. The motorcycle owner can purchase optional motorcycle personal injury protection (PIP) coverage on their policy. Motorcycle PIP will cover accidental medical expenses and is not the same coverage provided by regular auto No-Fault (PIP) insurance.

3. Motorcycle/pedestrian – The motorcyclist involved in a motorcycle accident with a pedestrian may not be entitled to collect Michigan No-Fault insurance benefits. Likewise, a pedestrian injured by a motorcycle is not entitled to No-Fault benefits.

Q. What is Michigan’s motorcycle helmet law?

A. 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 motorcycle helmet. The Michigan Department of State Police has been given the legislative responsibility to approve crash helmets and to implement this law.

Steven M. Gursten heads Michigan Auto Law. Steve received the highest motorcycle accident settlement in Michigan last year, according to year-end reports by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He is recognized as one of the nation’s top experts in serious motorcycle accident injury and motorcycle insurance litigation. Steve has spoken at trial seminars on motorcycle accident lawsuits, and is available for comment on Michigan’s motorcycle accident laws and personal injury cases.

– Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by mikebaird

Related information about motorcycle accidents:

What to Do After a Motorcycle Crash in Michigan

15 Motorcycle Driving Tips to Keep you Safe

Motorcycle Road Defect Claims

Michigan Auto Law is the largest law firm exclusively handling car accident, truck accident and motorcycle accident cases throughout the entire state. We have offices in Farmington Hills, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Sterling Heights to better serve you. Call (248) 353-7575 for a free consultation with an auto accident attorney – anytime. We can help.

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