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Michigan motorcycle helmet repeal going nowhere — for now

January 30, 2012 by Steven M. Gursten

SB 291 waiting for comprehensive No-Fault “reform”

First off, you know I’ve written quite a bit about how dangerous SB 291 is, a senseless proposal to repeal Michigan’s motorcycle helmet law. SB 291 would enable motorcyclists 21 and up to ride without a helmet. It would also require them to purchase a completely inadequate amount of additional Michigan No-Fault insurance coverage. That is, completely inadequate to actually pay the medical bills and protect any motorcycle rider in the event of a serious motorcycle accident injury.

As a Michigan motorcycle accident lawyer for nearly 20 years, I can say with absolute certainty that every motorcycle accident injury where I’ve helped the injured rider has had medical bills far in excess of the amounts being proposed.

Now, the good news is: the motorcycle helmet repeal is on hold – for now. The bad news is the helmet repeal will very likely pass once our vital No-Fault insurance laws and protections are taken away from injured Michigan accident victims.

But at least the Michigan insurance companies – that already lead the nation in profitability – will be happy. According to the Gongwer News Service (which reports on the Michigan Legislature), SB 291 continues to sit on the back burner in the Senate:

“After passing the House in November, SB 291 was not included in the remaining weeks of session last year and has not seen a vote to concur in the House changes yet this year. The House also added a provision requiring riders to carry an additional $20,000 in medical insurance.

The Senate is waiting to see if an auto no-fault bill emerges from the House before taking the helmet repeal up again.

Governor Rick Snyder has indicated those two issues should be tied together and the Senate is respecting that request, said Amber McCann, spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Randy Richardville (R-Monroe).”

I’ve said before that Gov. Snyder tying the helmet repeal to insurance “reform” is misguided. Here’s a blog I wrote about why Snyder’s plan is a bad idea all around — one that guarantees more motorcycle riders will die, one that robs drivers of important insurance protections, and finally leaves our taxpayers to pay the bill (and makes our rich auto insurance companies even more profitable).

This is politics at its very worst.

Steven M. Gursten is recognized as one of the nation’s top motorcycle accident attorneys. Steve received the highest motorcycle injury settlement in the state last year, according to Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He frequently appears in the media on the helmet law issue and is available for comment.

– Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by bluebike

Related information to protect yourself:

7 reasons every state should pass a motorcycle helmet law

What happens when a motorcyclist causes an accident?

How long do I have to file a Michigan motorcycle accident claim?

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7 Replies to “Michigan motorcycle helmet repeal going nowhere — for now”

  1. Wear a motorcyle helmet and be the first one on your block to break your neck. Helmets do not prevent accidents, they affect sight and hearing thereby causing deaths and accidents.

  2. I survived a motorcycle accident in 2003 when my bike malfunctioned at freeway speed and I lost the rear wheel. I totaled the bike, but walked away and my passenger had a cracked collar bone. We wore full leather, but not helmets and I can tell you that we would have snapped our necks had we been wearing helmets when this happened. I moved away from Michigan years ago and would love to come back and ride the U.P., but I will not until I can do so without a helmet.
    I have ridden across country without a helmet and that is the way I prefer to ride. My life, my choice, after all last time I checked this was still America and that is what we are all about, Freedom of Choice.

  3. Big John,

    The engineers and scientists clearly disagree with you. Helmets save lives, not snap necks.

    Regarding the my life, my choice line…I’ve heard that one before. No offense, but if you are catastrophically injured, I doubt that means you will refuse all governmental health and medical assistance, Social Security Disability and help. It may be your life and your choice, but the consequences of your decision are left to the rest of us who have to foot the bills for lifetime care for you. So it’s not quite as simple as you state it.

    Look, I hear this from my own injured clients who are hurt riding motorcycles all the time, so this may just be one of those issues we will never agree on, but I respect your opinion and thank you for the comment.

  4. Typical vague statement, which engineer and scientist by name,they were not on the bike at time of accident, how would they know? Your injured clients, Were they speeding,careless driving, drugs or booze? Have you ever rode a bike? I spent 3 years in Army to defend freedom, did you?

  5. Brad,
    Thank you for reading my blog. If you refer to the link I provided in the previous comment, to my blog about 7 reasons every state should pass a motorcycle requirement, you will see that all of the statistics backing up the fact that helmets save lives are from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), Fatal Analysis Reporting System, 2005; Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety and the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. These statistics are from years of research and studies from these credible institutions, and are by no means vague. As for my injured clients, every motorcycle accident, every person and every injury is different. But after representing motorcycle accident victims for nearly two decades, I can say that motorcycle accidents are often caused by other drivers who are negligent, and those who are not educated on the proper way to drive around bikers. I am not trying to hurt anyone here. It’s actually just the opposite. I want bikers to wear their helmets and be mandated by law to do so, so I don’t have to see them in my office after they are seriously injured in a motorcycle accident. I am not a member of the Army, but I do sincerely thank you for your help in serving our country.
    Steve Gursten

  6. I have been riding motorcycles since 1968, and since then I have heard just about every pro & con about wearing helmets. It’s always the same arguments. People who do not ride motorcycles can’t understand why someone would ever want to ride without one and people who do ride motorcycles wish the people who don’t ride would kindly mind their own business. “But it’s for your own good!” has been the main argument for the pro side as they point to all of the gruesome statistics that support their views. Now if the pro helmet people really want to protect folks from making a bad decision, then why not start at number ONE on the list of “Stupid Things People Do and So Let’s Pass a Law Against It” – smoking cigarettes. Not only is this activity globally recognized as being one of the leading causes for death and disease, but this activity also has dire ramifications for everyone around them (second hand smoke). If the “pro helmet” folks’ main concern is in saving lives and protecting society from those who could be a burden on society, then why not pass a law requiring smokers to purchase a supplemental health insurance policy so that those of us who do not smoke don’t have to bear the burden of taking care of these people when (not if) they wind up in the hospital. I’m sure there would be plenty of hospital beds available and no shortage of medical staff if smoking were to become illegal. After all, there are certainly plenty of gruesome statistics against this human indulgence, right? Talk about a human activity that is a drain on society! In the meantime, while you are working on this anti tobacco legislation, to protect everyone else from these dangerous smokers how about passing a law to require them to wear “smoking helmets” (gas masks) while they indulge in their favorite dangerous activity? Compared to smoking, the “burden” placed on society by non-helmet wearing motorcyclist is extremely miniscule by comparison. Just think, if you stopped focusing your attention on the relatively small segment of society of helmet-free proponents, think of all the free time you would have to use your intelligence to make the good ol’ U.S, of A a better place for EVERYONE, including all the motorcycle riders who’s tax dollars are being used to take care of the folks who still have their freedom to smoke, as well as the people who have the freedom to eat fast foods, to drink and drive, to shoot their classmates, to send our boys over to foreign countries to get killed because you don’t like the way other people live? Come on! Let’s get real about what a REALLY important issue is and deal with those FIRST! Once you can prove that you can effectively deal with the really important issues, then you will have earned our respect and, along with it, our attention to what you have to say. Thanks

  7. I do not care what you wear or do not wear (anytime). As long as you take TOTAL responsibility for your decision. I do not want to PAY for your bike, your fuel, your maintenance, your clothes, your helmet or what ever else you decide to purchase.
    AND, I do not want to pay to have a nurse wipe drool from your face while you lay in bed staring at the ceiling. SPEND SOME TIME IN A “ER”. You might learn something.
    “Listen to the experts” It’s what they do.

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