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Snyder would tie motorcycle helmet law repeal to No-Fault “reform”

July 26, 2011 by Steven M. Gursten

Michigan motorcycle accident lawyer writes about preventable havoc and needless deaths that will occur if motorcyclists aren’t required to wear helmets

The Detroit News recently ran a story on how our governor mentioned that he will consider the motorcycle helmet repeal issue as part of a broader conversation about No-Fault insurance “reform.” Governor Snyder hasn’t offered details on his plan as of yet.

For those unfamiliar with the proposed motorcycle helmet law repeal, the Michigan Senate has approved a bill to allow motorcyclists 21 and over the option to ride without a motorcycle helmet – as long as they purchase $100,000 in motorcycle PIP insurance coverage. The bill is expected to be passed by the House as well.

There are also proposed bills to “reform” Michigan’s No-Fault insurance system, currently the best in the nation for injured auto accident victims (By the way, this is not just what the insurance lawyers think). If these insurance bills are passed, Michigan drivers would no longer have unlimited medical coverage in case of an auto accident. Instead, the cost of medical care and treatment for injured auto accident victims would be limited to as low as $50,000. If this happens, after an injured auto accident victim reaches that $50,000 cap, the financial burden for their lifetime medical care would be shifted from auto insurance companies — to Michigan taxpayers and Medicare.

Snyder’s idea to tie these two issues together is ludicrous. As I’ve written before, Michigan bikers say their choice to wear a helmet is a matter of personal freedom and expression liberty. But these “advocates” completely ignore that their “personal liberty” intrudes on the personal liberty of everyone else – when taxpayers are asked to pay a motorcycle accident victim’s lifetime medical bills for traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injuries. That’s if the motorcyclist survives in the first place…

Yes, folks, bikers are 45 percent more likely to die when not wearing a motorcycle helmet if they are involved in a motorcycle accident. So… why in the world wouldn’t you wear one?!

What could really happen if bikers don’t have to wear helmets and lifetime medical No-Fault benefits are capped

Let’s try and attempt to figure out where Snyder is going with this plan. Say motorcyclists are not required to wear a helmet in Michigan any longer. And say the No-Fault “reform” bills are passed, limiting the medical benefits to a lowly cap.

Now let’s say a biker gets in a very serious Michigan motorcycle accident while not wearing his helmet and sustains a catastrophic brain injury that disables him for the rest of his life.

First of all, if this biker did wear his helmet, he might not ever suffer this brain injury in the first place, or it likely will not be so severe. He might be able to recover and live a normal life. He could have been saved (Read my recent blog about how a bareheaded biker died in a rally against motorcycle helmets).

Who is going to pay for this motorcyclist’s traumatic brain injury and lifetime medical care?

It won’t be the No-Fault insurance company, which would have footed the bill under Michigan’s current No-fault insurance law if the biker had motorcycle PIP, or had been hit by a car.

Again, after this biker reaches $50,000 in medical care (which could likely be exhausted before the first week in the hospital alone), it is now up to the taxpayers and Mediicaid to pay for his medical care. As many motorcycle accident injuries without helmets are catastrophic TBI and spinal cord injuries, the taxpayers would assume the cost of paying for lifetime catastrophic medical care.

This is politics at its worst. Synder’s proposal to tie No-Fault reform helps no one but the insurance companies. We would be letting bikers die and suffer catastrophic injuries in preventable motorcycle accidents, and putting our fiscal house in even greater jeopardy by assuming the cost of these injuries. Again, it’s putting the financial responsibility for their care squarely on Michigan taxpayers.

It’s a bad idea, all the way around.

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

Related information to protect yourself:

What to do after a Michigan motorcycle accident

Motorcycle accident lawsuits in Michigan

Editorial: No time to repeal motorcycle helmet sanity

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 lawyers.

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