Michigan Motorcycle Accident Law FAQs
Were you or a family member injured in a motorcycle accident? Our accident lawyers can help.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident on Michigan roads, please take the time to look our frequently asked questions. If you’d like to contact an attorney from Michigan Auto Law immediately, please call (800) 777-0028 for a free case evaluation.
- If a motorcyclist is at-fault for an accident and is sued in a negligence lawsuit for personal injuries, who is responsible for damages?
- Why is a motorcyclist who caused an accident automatically held responsible for the damages he caused in a personal injury negligence lawsuit?
- What insurance is a motorcyclist in Michigan required to have?
- Because a motorcycle is not considered a “motor vehicle” in Michigan No-Fault law, does that mean an injured motorcyclist cannot have a case?
- Can an injured motorcyclist still receive Michigan No-Fault insurance benefits?
- What is a first-party motorcycle accident claim?
- What is a third-party motorcycle accident claim?
- How can an injured motorcyclist determine whether he or she can receive No-Fault benefits after a motorcycle crash?
- What insurer pays for an injured motorcyclist’s No-Fault insurance benefits in Michigan?
- Tell me about a motorcycle accident wrongful death claim.
- What happens when someone is in a hit-and-run motorcycle accident?
- What happens when a motorcycle crash is caused by a roadway defect?
- What is Michigan’s motorcycle helmet law?
- How does wearing a crash helmet affect my motorcycle accident case?
If a motorcyclist is at-fault for an accident and is sued in a negligence lawsuit for personal injuries, who is responsible for damages?
If a motorcyclist is at-fault for an accident and is sued in a negligence lawsuit for personal injuries, he will generally be legally responsible for all of the damages he caused — as well as the title-owner of the motorcycle, if the two are different.
This is regardless of the auto injury thresholds set forth by the Michigan No-Fault Act that normally applies to accidents caused by automobiles. The auto injury thresholds say that someone injured in an auto accident must sustain serious impairment of body function, permanent serious disfigurement or death to receive damages in a lawsuit.
Why is a motorcyclist who caused an accident automatically held responsible for the damages he caused in a personal injury negligence lawsuit?
The reason an at-fault motorcyclist is usually liable for injuries he caused in an accident is because according to Michigan case law, auto injury thresholds set forth by the Michigan No-Fault Act only apply if the wrongdoer is operating a motor vehicle at the time of the accident. And according to the Michigan No-Fault Act, a motorcycle is specifically excluded as a “motor vehicle.” (Auto injury thresholds say that someone injured in an auto accident must sustain serious impairment of body function, permanent serious disfigurement or death to receive damages in a lawsuit.)
What insurance is a motorcyclist in Michigan required to have?
The motorcycle accident lawyers of Michigan Auto Law tell our clients that, generally speaking, the only insurance required for a motorcyclist is basic liability coverage for a third-party personal injury suit, according to the Michigan No-Fault Law. The coverage must be at least the minimum liability set by law.
The caveat to that is if a motorcycle rider over the age of 21 wants to ride without a helmet. He or she may do so only if he or she has at least $20,000 in first-party medical benefits coverage. (MCL 257.658(5))
Importantly, a motorcycle owner can still purchase additional, optional contractual insurances, such as personal injury protection (PIP) coverage, which includes medical benefits and wage loss. A motorcycle owner can also purchase other insurance, such as uninsured and under-insured motorist coverage. Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) and under-insured motorist coverage (UIM) provide a valuable source of legal recovery when someone is injured in an auto accident by another driver who is uninsured or does not have adequate insurance.
Because a motorcycle is not considered a “motor vehicle” in Michigan No-Fault law, does that mean an injured motorcyclist cannot have a case?
No. If another motor vehicle like a car or truck was involved in the motorcycle accident, a personal injury attorney can treat a motorcycle accident case just like a regular first-party or third-party auto accident case — if the motorcyclist has motorcycle liability insurance required by the Michigan No-Fault law.
Can an injured motorcyclist still receive Michigan No-Fault insurance benefits?
If a motorcycle is involved with a moving motor vehicle during an accident, the motorcyclist qualifies for No-Fault benefits (also called personal injury protection (PIP) benefits).
What is a first-party motorcycle accident claim?
First-party claim, also called a No-Fault or personal injury protection (PIP) claim — A first-party claim is between the motorcycle accident victim and the insurance company responsible for No-Fault benefits. These benefits include medical expenses related to the auto accident, wage loss for the first three years following the accident, household replacement services (chores/help with children), payment for mileage to and from medical appointments and attendant care, also referred to as nursing services. The statute of limitations to make a first-party claim is one year from the date of the motorcycle accident.
What is a third-party motorcycle accident claim?
A “third-party claim”, also called a negligence claim or a tort claim is a lawsuit that’s filed against the negligent driver responsible for causing a motorcycle accident in Michigan. The damages available in a third-party claim following a motorcycle crash include pain and suffering damages and excess economic benefits. The statute of limitations to make a third-party claim is three years from the date of the motorcycle accident.
How can an injured motorcyclist determine whether he or she can receive No-Fault benefits after a motorcycle crash?
- Motorcycle accidents involving an automobile that is not parked – The motorcyclist will qualify for No-Fault benefits with one exception: If the motorcyclist is the “title owner” of the vehicle, he must have motorcycle insurance on his motorcycle, or he will be disqualified. Assuming the motorcycle is insured and if there is collision coverage on the motorcycle policy, that coverage will pay for the damage to the motorcycle. If the motorcyclist is at-fault for the accident, the motorcycle insurer will provide legal representation for the claim and will pay up to the liability policy limits to any injured parties. Other than that, the motorcycle insurer plays no part in paying Michigan No-Fault benefits.
- All other scenarios, including accidents with parked automobiles – The motorcycle does not qualify for normal auto No-Fault benefits. The motorcycle owner can purchase optional motorcycle personal injury protection (PIP) coverage on their policy. Motorcycle PIP will cover accidental medical expenses and is not the same coverage provided by regular auto No-Fault (PIP) insurance.
- Motorcycle/pedestrian – The motorcyclist involved in a motorcycle accident with a pedestrian may not be entitled to collect Michigan No-Fault insurance benefits. Likewise, a pedestrian injured by a motorcycle is not entitled to No-Fault benefits.
What insurer pays for an injured motorcyclist’s No-Fault insurance benefits in Michigan?
When a motorcyclist is involved in an accident with an automobile and otherwise qualifies for No-Fault benefits, a determination needs to be made as to which insurer will pay:
- The first priority is the auto insurer of the owner of the automobile involved in the accident
- The second priority is the auto insurer of the driver of automobile involved in the accident
- The third priority is the auto insurer of the motorcyclist. The motorcyclist would have to own an insured automobile in order for his insurer to provide benefits
- The fourth level of priority is the auto insurer of the owner of the motorcycle, if the owner is different than the motorcyclist
- The last level of priority is the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan, which is administered by the Michigan Automobile Insurance Placement Facility (MAIPF).
Tell me about a motorcycle accident wrongful death claim.
If a motorcyclist is killed in a motorcycle accident, compensation for wrongful death motorcycle fatalities is controlled by the Michigan Wrongful Death Act. A lawyer must open an estate and a personal representative appointed by the Michigan probate court will file a wrongful death lawsuit on his behalf. Payments to the family of a rider killed in a motorcycle accident in Michigan must first be authorized by the probate court before any Michigan attorney can distribute the proceeds from a Michigan wrongful death lawsuit.
What happens when someone is in a hit-and-run motorcycle accident?
A Michigan motorcycle accident lawyer may need to file an uninsured motorist (UM) claim if the car or truck driver who caused the accident is never identified. An uninsured motorist claim is a claim for personal injury or wrongful death following a motorcycle accident, which is made with the motorcycle owner’s uninsured motorist policy. The uninsured motorist policy steps into the shoes of the unidentified driver who caused the car accident, as an unidentified motorist who caused a motorcycle accident obviously cannot be sued. If an uninsured motorist claim is necessary, the time for a Michigan motorcycle accident lawyer to file may be less than the three years required by law to file a third-party lawsuit following a motorcycle accident in Michigan.
What happens when a motorcycle crash is caused by a roadway defect?
If a motorcycle rider suffers serious injury due to a roadway defect, such as faulty road design, repair, roadway maintenance or other road hazards, a claim may be made against the Michigan governmental entity that has jurisdiction over the area. Such a lawsuit is subject to strict notice and filing requirements. For any municipality other that the state of Michigan, the deadline for filing a notice of intent to sue is 120 days. For the state of Michigan, the deadline for filing is six months.
What is Michigan’s motorcycle helmet law?
As of April 13, 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 first-party medical benefits coverage in case of a motorcycle crash. (MCL 257.658(5))
How does wearing a helmet affect my motorcycle accident case?
Of course the lawyers at Michigan Auto Law always recommend a motorcyclist wear a helmet and ride safely. Still, failure to wear a motorcycle helmet will not preclude a motorcyclist injured in a motorcycle accident from filing a lawsuit. Failure to wear a helmet can, however, reduce the amount of money recovered in a personal injury lawsuit under Michigan law, if it can be shown that the lack of a helmet made the injuries worse than they would otherwise have been.
Our Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Can Help You
Michigan Auto Law has been exclusively handling auto accident cases, including countless motorcycle accident cases, for more than 50 years. We can help Michigan motorcycle accident victims and their family members better understand motorcycle insurance laws and what happens after someone has been seriously injured in a crash. If you have more questions, please call (800) 777-0028 to speak with a motorcycle accident lawyer directly.