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Helmet law repeal is not a freedom to cause injury or cost the taxpayers

April 4, 2012 by Steven M. Gursten

SB 291 awaits Gov. Snyder’s signature, but Jack Lessenberry asks WHY?

I read a fantastic column by Jack Lessenberry about the looming Michigan motorcycle helmet law repeal that is now awaiting Gov. Snyder’s signature after it passed in the Senate and House last week.

Lessenberry’s column, Michigan helmet law repeal, bad idea?, made the points as only Lessenberry can, points that both myself and our own motorcycle accident attorneys have been making, starting with the fact that “we don’t have the right to cause others harm, or cost the taxpayers money for no good reason” under SB 291.

Lessenberry’s column is a great read and I highly recommend it.

Here are some highlights regarding the motorcycle helmet law repeal issue from Lessenberry:

  • “A lot of people are likely to be killed, and there will be even more incapacitating injuries. And that will mean higher health care costs for all of us… The Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning forecasts an additional 30 deaths and 127 incapacitating injuries every year if this repeal isn’t vetoed.”
  • “The Insurance Institute of Michigan and Triple AAA think repealing the helmet law is insane, But the liquor lobby wants it. A spokesman for the Michigan Licensed Beverage Association said we need to repeal the helmet law so bikers will buy more booze in our state.”
  • Governor Snyder has said public health is a priority. He sent the state a special message on health last September. If (Snyder) signs this bill, he will make a mockery of his own policies.
  • Some of the senators who voted to repeal the helmet law… also oppose President Obama’s health care plan, because it forces people to buy health insurance. Instead, (the senators) think people should pay for other people’s easily preventable accidents.

For those of you who are unfamiliar of the motorcycle helmet law repeal: SB 291 would enable motorcyclists 21 and older to ride without a helmet. It would also require them to purchase $20,000 in No-Fault PIP coverage in case of a motorcycle accident.

But the $20,000 insurance requirement is a complete joke. It’s far too low to pay anything near the actual amount of medical bills that rack up when there’s a serious motorcycle crash. As a lawyer who’s helped seriously injured bikers in Michigan for almost 20 years, and looking back to almost every motorcycle crash case I’ve handled, I can say for certain that this $20,000 in No-Fault medical bills would have been wiped out before the injured motorcycle rider had left the hospital, and certainly within a month or two after the crash. Once this is exhausted, the injured motorcyclists would be pushed onto Medicaid, and we, the taxpayers will be forced to pay for their medical care for life.

Like Lessenberry eludes, absolutely nothing about this proposed helmet repeal makes any sense. Our attorneys have discussed how proponents of the law wanted it to attract more motorcyclists from other states. The liquor lobby wants those out-of-state motorcycle enthusiasts to get drunk. We simply raise the question: is this really worth the lives, the injuries, and the huge cost in taxpayer dollars?

Our blogs on the Michigan motorcycle helmet law repeal have gotten some extensive feedback, especially from bikers who really want the “freedom to ride with the wind in their hair.”

Note on Lessenberry’s column the biker who wrote in to Gov. Snyder with his own personal story of a motorcycle accident in which a helmet saved his life, and begged the governor to veto the helmet law repeal.

Let’s hope Snyder listens to this injured biker who learned the hard way — and other important groups like the Brain Injury Association of Michigan, SMARTER Motorcycle Advocates and many medical organizations and hospitals — and vetoes this dangerous bill.

Steven M. Gursten is a motorcycle accident attorney and head of Michigan Auto Law. Steve has received the highest motorcycle injury settlement in the state, according to Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He frequently appears in the media on motorcycle safety and the proposed helmet repeal, and is available for comment.

Related information to protect yourself:

Why death rates for crotch rockets are four times higher

7 reasons every state should pass a motorcycle helmet requirement

Michigan motorcycle accident types

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 (800) 777-0028 for a free consultation with one of our Michigan motorcycle accident attorneys.

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