Some of the most frequently asked questions our motorcycle accident attorneys receive are about motorcycle helmet laws in Michigan. As of April 12, 2012, motorcyclists 21 and over who have certain certifications can legally ride in Michigan without a motorcycle helmet. The motorcycle helmet law also requires motorcyclists to purchase $20,000 in No-Fault PIP coverage in case of a motorcycle crash.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcycle helmets are estimated to be 37 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries and saved the lives of nearly 1,800 motorcyclists in 2007. There were more than 5,150 fatalities from U.S. motorcycle accidents in 2007. There were also 103,000 injuries.
If you were involved in a motorcycle crash and you weren’t wearing a helmet, you can still bring a lawsuit for your personal injuries. However, not wearing a helmet can make a difference in how much money you receive, if it can be shown that not wearing your helmet was also a partial cause (or aggravating factor) to your injuries.
Motorcycle accident injuries such as traumatic brain injury and spinal injuries are the most common examples in which a defense lawyer or auto insurance company will argue that the motorcyclist was at fault for choosing not to wear a helmet. A jury in a motorcycle accident trial would be asked to allocate the amount of comparative negligence they feel the motorcyclist is responsible for. (Comparative negligence reduces the amount of damages a plaintiff can recover, based upon the degree the plaintiff’s own negligence contributed to the cause of the injury.)
Too many juries have been less than forgiving in this regard. Experienced motorcycle accident attorneys will tell you of countless examples in which juries awarded compensation to a seriously injured motorcycle rider for a fractured arm, for instance, but gave nothing for TBI or back injuries because they were punishing the motorcycle rider for going without a crash helmet.
This is why it’s important to retain a Michigan attorney who is experienced in handling motorcycle accident cases. For example, a defense lawyer or insurance company asking a jury to allocate comparative negligence against an injured motorcycle rider for not wearing a motorcycle helmet when the motorcyclist has fractured a leg, for example, should be precluded from making such arguments at an evidentiary hearing.
Our advice has nothing to do with a motorcyclist’s rights or individual liberties to wear or not wear a motorcycle helmet. We have many friends who are bikers, who go to rallies and share all sorts of information about campaigns and such. This is legal advice based upon decades of experience and medicine: Many brain injuries and spinal injuries will be worse for someone who is not wearing a motorcycle helmet than for someone who is protected by one. Please read our traumatic brain injury blog for more information.
The motorcycle accident lawyers of Michigan auto law have handled more serious motor vehicle accident cases than any other Michigan law firm, and we have considerable experience dealing with jury bias toward motorcyclists. We have gone to trial on motorcycle accident cases and studied focus groups and literature about public perception of motorcycle riders. That’s why we are the most effective advocates for our clients. To speak with a motorcycle accident lawyer directly, please call us at (800) 777-0028 for a free case evaluation.