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SB 720 requires riders without helmets to purchase unlimited No-Fault PIP for motorcycle accidents

October 12, 2011 by Steven M. Gursten

Michigan motorcycle accident lawyer says new proposed legislation is a step in the right direction to protecting motorcycle owners and operators – and taxpayers

SB 720: No-Fault, motorcycle, helmets (Kahn, Saginaw), requires motorcyclists who elect to ride without a helmet to purchase unlimited personal injury protection benefits. The bill deals primarily with who will pay for catastrophic injuries arising from motorcycle accidents. It was introduced last week, and has been referred to the Committee on Insurance.

Motorcycle lawyer comments and analysis on SB 720: This bill starts to address the concerns raised in previous blogs about who will pay for serious motorcycle accident injuries if the proposed helmet repeal legislation becomes law.

SB 720 would require motorcyclists who choose to ride without a helmet to buy unlimited No-Fault PIP benefits. As a lawyer helping injured motorcycle operators in Michigan for nearly 20 years, I certainly feel this is a step in the right direction.

The problem with the motorcycle owners who say they that the Michigan helmet law infringes on their personal freedom and individual liberty is that the same motorcycle operators don’t seem nearly as concerned when the cost and medical bills for catastrophic, lifetime medical care for serious motorcycle injuries (like brain injuries or spinal cord injuries) is paid by taxpayers and Medicaid.

Today, most motorcycle operators ride without motorcycle PIP, because it’s so expensive. If they are injured and without health insurance, the cost is shifted to the taxpayers. SB 720 seems to address this issue by requiring that motorcyclists who choose to ride without a helmet purchase unlimited motorcycle PIP. The bill would move the financial burden from taxpayers, who currently are footing the bill for catastrophic motorcycle accident injuries (unless the motorcycle operator was struck by a car, in which case the operator can collect from the No-Fault insurance policy of the owner of the motor vehicle).

Under the bill, a No-Fault personal injury protection (PIP) insurance policy applies to accidental bodily injury to the person named in the policy as well as the person’s spouse, and a relative who lives in the same household if the injury arises from a motor vehicle accident or a motorcycle crash.

Helmets save lives – and lower the costs of medical bills. If a biker chooses to ride a motorcycle without a helmet, it seems more logical to have the operator insure against this risk, rather than imposing the full costs on society when foreseeable catastrophic injuries inevitably occur.

I do feel qualified to opine on this issue. The motorcycle accident cases where I’ve represented the accident victim normally have very serious (sometimes catastrophic) personal injury. And sadly, often these riders suffer traumatic brain injury, closed-head injuries and spinal cord injuries. The medical bills for these serious motorcycle crashes add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. The cost is usually for lifetime medical care.

SB 720 would shift the burden from the taxpayers back on to the motorcyclist to purchase insurance coverage if he or she chooses to ride without a helmet. It seems a better solution and more fair to all sides.

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

Related information to protect yourself:

HB 4936 extremely punitive to motorcyclists’ rights

Michigan motorcycle accident FAQs

Statute of limitations for a motorcycle accident in Michigan

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 attorneys.

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