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Today’s breaking news on the Michigan motorcycle helmet law

June 29, 2011 by Steven M. Gursten

Governor Snyder says he’ll consider repeal if bikers purchase $100,000 insurance for personal injury

The breaking news as I was driving to work this morning, and as I write this now, is that the Michigan Senate passed a bill that could make motorcycle helmets optional. And Gov. Snyder said he could consider repealing our motorcycle helmet law as part of a broader insurance “reform” plan (Read here on how Michigan’s auto insurance industry is trying to dismantle Michigan’s No-Fault system, which is currently the best insurance system in the entire country). If our helmet law were repealed, bikers 21 years and over would not be required to wear a helmet.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the bill will go to the (Republican-lead) House, where it is expected to pass. The bill was amended to require motorcyclists buy a minimum of $100,000 in insurance coverage for personal injuries, also known as PIP (personal injury protection benefits).

Advocates for the helmet repeal say the requirement to buy a $100,000 insurance policy would make it too expensive for many motorcyclists.

These advocates need to have their head examined. I’ve been handling catastrophic motorcycle accidents for my entire legal career. To begin with, motorcycle accidents are almost always catastrophic. When a motorcycle gets involved in a collision with a car or truck, the biker usually loses. And $100,000 is still far too little coverage to cover the medical expenses of most of these motorcycle crashes, especially as most involve serious traumatic brain injury. If this law passes, we can expect a sharp increase in motorcycle TBI cases, or spinal cord injury or serious extremity injury to the arms and legs.

Listening to the interviews this morning on 97.1 and NPR (I switch back and forth), I am still amazed by the gigantic leap of logic that these repeal advocates make. They keep saying the repeal of the helmet law is a matter of personal freedom of expression and of liberty. Why do people not make the same personal liberty arguments about requirements to wear seat belts in cars, as they do about helmets with motorcycles?

And why do advocates of the helmet law repeal completely ignore that their “personal liberty” intrudes on the personal liberty of others, who have to pay their often catastrophic medical bills, as the costs of providing a lifetime of care to them is shifted to the public taxpayers and to Medicaid?

Reading the comments in the Detroit Freep article, DirectorinDTW said it best:

“Absolutely-let them ride without helmets. Right after they sign the form that says that they understand that they are not eligible for ANY social security, medicaid, welfare, or other disability payments that result from any and all injuries that occur while on a motorcycle.”

$100,000 in Motorcycle PIP not enough

They say the $100,000 PIP requirement in motorcycle insurance would be too expensive. But it is simply not enough to cover the cost of these injuries. I would urge the governor to require $500,000 in motorcycle PIP insurance instead.

In any event, say goodbye to the motorcycle helmet law in Michigan. It looks like it’s on its way out.

Steven M. Gursten heads Michigan Auto Law. He received the highest motorcycle accident settlement in Michigan last year, according to Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He is recognized as one of the nation’s top motorcycle lawyers. Steve has spoken at trial seminars on motorcycle lawsuits, and is available for comment on Michigan’s motorcycle accident laws.

– Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by Mike Licht

Related information to protect yourself:

Choosing a safe motorcycle helmet

What to do after a motorcycle crash in Michigan

Editorial: No time to repeal Michigan motorcycle helmet law

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 one of our motorcycle accident lawyers.

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