At-Fault Motorcycle Accident: What You Need To Know
If you were injured in an at-fault motorcycle accident in Michigan, then you can sue the motorcyclist for pain and suffering compensation. You may also be able to sue for medical bills, lost wages and property damage. No-Fault benefits are not available unless a car or truck was involved in the accident.
What happens when a motorcyclist causes a crash?
When a motorcyclist is at fault for an accident, he or she can be sued for pain and suffering compensation by the person injured or for wrongful death by a person’s family if the person died. If no car or truck was involved, the motorcyclist could be sued for medical bills, lost wages and property damage.
Can an owner be sued after an at-fault motorcycle accident?
The owner of a motor bike can be sued for injuries, death or property damage resulting from the negligent operation of the motor bike, even if the owner was neither operating it nor or riding on it at the time of the accident. This is allowed under Michigan’s “owner liability” law. (MCL 257.401(1))
Suing for pain and suffering after an at-fault motorcycle accident
To sue after an at-fault motorcycle accident, you will have to show that the motorcyclist who caused the accident resulting in your injuries was negligent. But you will not have to show you suffered a “serious impairment of body function” in order to recover pain and suffering compensation.
This is what makes this type of crash different from a crash when a car or truck driver causes the crash.
Under Michigan’s No-Fault auto insurance law, when a person has been injured by a car or truck, the only way to recover pain and suffering compensation from the driver who caused the crash is for the injured person to show that he or she has suffered a “serious impairment of body function.” (MCL 500.3135(1) and (3)(b))
Not so when a motorcyclist causes an accident that injures someone.
Because the No-Fault law treats motorcyclists differently than “motor vehicles” (such as cars and trucks), the “serious impairment of body function” requirement does not apply to claims for pain and suffering compensation brought against a motorcyclist who caused the crash.
What constitutes negligence in this scenario?
Below are behaviors that may result in a motorcyclist being deemed to have been negligent in causing an at-fault motorcycle accident:
- Failure to exercise ordinary care
- Violation of traffic laws of the state, cities or municipalities and/or state agencies
- Violation of Michigan’s ban on texting while driving (MCL 257.602b)
- Violation of Michigan’s law banning motorcyclists from “lane splitting” or “white striping.” (MCL 257.660(4))
- Violation of the drunk- and drugged-driving laws.
- Violation of Michigan speed limit laws.
How do No-Fault benefits apply in this scenario?
The involvement of a car or truck will determine whether No-Fault benefits apply to an at-fault motorcycle accident in Michigan. If a car or truck was involved, then No-Fault benefits will be available according to the law’s “priority” rules. If there was no car or truck, then the No-Fault law will not apply.
If a car or truck was involved in an at-fault motorcycle accident, then the following people will receive No-Fault benefits from the following insurance companies:
- Drivers and/or occupants of the cars or trucks that were involved will generally receive No-Fault benefits through their own auto insurance policy or through the policy of their spouse or a relative who lives in their home and, if no coverage is available through those sources, then through the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan. (MCL 500.3114(1) and (4))
- Motorcyclists and riders will first seek No-Fault benefits from the “insurer” of the owner and then the operator of the motor vehicle involved in the accident. (MCL 500.3114(5)(a) and (b)) Next, injured motorcyclists will turn to the “motor vehicle insurer” of the operator – then owner or registrant – of the motor bike involved in the accident. (MCL 500.3114(5)(c) and (d)) Finally, if no insurance coverage is available for the motorcyclist through any of these sources, then an injured motorcyclist will have to file a claim for No-Fault benefits with the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan. (MCL 500.3114(6))
- Pedestrians or bicyclists will seek No-Fault benefits through their own policies or the policies of spouses or residents who live in the same home and, if no coverage is available through those sources, then through the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan. (MCL 500.3114(1); 500.3115)
Suing for medical, lost wages and property damage
If no car or truck is involved in an at-fault motorcycle accident, then Michigan’s No-Fault auto insurance law does not apply and, thus, benefits to cover medical bills and wage loss will not be available. Property damage will not be covered by the mini tort. Victims will sue the motorcyclist who caused the crash for these economic damages.
Who pays for a motorcyclist’s medical bills after they caused the crash?
If no car or truck is involved, then the motorcyclist who caused the crash will have to rely on his or her first-party medical benefits – assuming he or she purchased the coverage – to pay for accident related medical bills. Alternatively, the motorcyclist may rely on his or her health insurance. (MCL 500.3103(2); 257.658(5))
Will a motorcyclist’s liability insurance cover an at-fault motorcycle accident?
All motorcyclists in Michigan must have insurance that provides liability coverage if they cause an automobile crash that results in death, bodily injury and/or property damage. Although the law requires liability limits of $250,000/$500,000, motorcyclists can choose lower limits of $50,000/$100,000. (MCL 500.3103(1); 500.3009(1) and (5))
Need help? Call the attorneys at Michigan Auto Law
If you have been injured in an at-fault motorcycle accident and would like to speak with an experienced attorney, call toll free anytime 24/7 at (248) 353-7575 for a free consultation with one of our attorneys. You can also get help from an experienced accident attorney by visiting our contact page or you can use the chat feature on our website.