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Michigan House passes motorcycle helmet law repeal: SB 0291

November 8, 2011 by Steven M. Gursten

Motorcycle accident lawyer says amendment to reduce medical coverage requirement for motorcyclists to only $20,000 is simply insane, a boon to insurance companies and a hit to taxpayers

Last week, the state House passed a bill repealing Michigan’s law that requires motorcyclists to wear protective motorcycle helmets. I’ve been predicting this senseless law to pass all along. But that doesn’t mean as a motorcycle accident lawyer who has seen the consequences of what happens when people ride without helmets, I won’t go down swinging.

This is a horrible, stupid law. It guarantees more motorcycle owners will die, more motorcycle owners will be catastrophically injured, and that all of us – as taxpayers – will be left footing the bill for hundreds of millions of dollars more as these brain injured motorcycle riders get pushed onto Medicaid.

But hey, it’s great for the politicians who strengthen their chances of being re-elected and it’s great for the insurance companies, who lock in profits and limit their exposures. It’s just that the motorcycle helmet repeal is absolutely terrible for the rest of us.

If there is any hope left, it is this: even though the motorcycle helmet repeal has now passed the Senate and the House, it’s still unclear whether Gov. Snyder will sign it. Snyder has made several public statements that he would consider the motorcycle helmet repeal, but as part of a larger effort to “reform” Michigan’s No-Fault insurance system.

And here’s SB 0291 itself, as passed by the Michigan House.

Bad and worse

What’s worse than the House passing this bill? How about that the House actually made it worse than the Senate version. The Senate version required motorcycle owners to have $100,000 in No-Fault medical coverage (woefully insufficient), but the House reduced that already inadequate amount further down to a ridiculous $20,000. The bill now heads back to the Senate for approval.

Again, $20,000 is woefully inadequate and likely will be blown on the first day in the emergency room after a catastrophic motorcycle injury accident. And who is left to pay for the injured bikers healthcare should this bill pass? We are, the taxpayers, as the cost of paying for a lifetime of catastrophic medical care gets shifted to all of us from the insurance companies once whatever No-Fault (PIP) amount – be it $20,000 or $100,000 – ends up in the final legislation.

As Rep. Dian Slavens, (D-Canton Township), who urged the lower chamber not to support the bill, said, abolishing helmet laws has been a costly mistake in other states:

“When universal helmet laws were repealed in other states, hospital admissions for (traumatic brain injury) increased 42-80 percent and acute treatment costs more than doubled due to increased injury severity. (This bill’s) proposed $20,000 medical insurance coverage will not sufficiently cover the total initial and long-term costs associated with a serious TBI,” Slavens said.

Now advocates for the helmet repeal are saying that a helmet less state would allow for more tourism. Really? As I have posed before, what’s more important, saving the lives of our motorcycle riders, or allowing a few more tourists to ride with the wind in their hair?

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 settlement in the state 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:

What happens when a motorcyclist causes a motorcycle accident in Michigan?

Michigan motorcycle accident law FAQs

Motorcycle helmet law repeal will result in more injuries, deaths and costs

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 Michigan motorcycle accident lawyers.

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4 Replies to “Michigan House passes motorcycle helmet law repeal: SB 0291”

  1. Helmets affect sight and hearing ,also cause a false sense of security. If a person is forced to wear and helmet and breaks his neck who will pay that persons medical costs?

  2. Hi Brad,
    Thanks for your comment. Here are two blogs I wrote that that refute your statement regarding motorcycle helmets affecting sight and hearing: Motorcycle helmets save lives and Do motorcycle helmets affect vision and hearing? As to your question, if a motorcyclist is forced to wear a helmet and breaks his neck, under SB 0291, the taxpayers would be forced to pay for his medical costs. This is because the injured motorcyclist would be forced to go on Medicaid, as the inadequate amount of $20,000 in PIP benefits required by the bill would be exhausted within the first week of emergency care.

  3. Hi Steven Question as to the fact that when Montana dropped the helmet requirement accidents went down. State revenue went up from the increase in motorcycle traffic and people willing to come to that state. Also you really think the best thing to have on your head in a motorcycle accident is a 6 pound weight on top of your head. Also i believe that the true problem is the catastrophic claims law that Michigan has. Also if helmets are such a great life saver we should force people to wear them in cars as you said you wrote two blogs refuting the fact that helmets effect hearing and sight. you believe that then wear a helmet in your car to protect your head and face from hitting the steering wheel in an accident. sounds stupid in that context now doesn’t it. so yes their is an effect on vision and hearing.

  4. Jeff,
    Thank you for your comment. But respectfully, the facts are the facts. Motorcycle helmets prevent serious injuries and even death. Here are two blogs I wrote on the subject (with help from the president of SMARTER, a respected Michigan motorcycle safety organization): 7 reasons every state should pass a motorcycle helmet law and Helmets do not affect vision and hearing. As for people wearing helmets in cars, you are comparing apples to oranges.

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