According to the Michigan No-Fault Act, a motorcycle is specifically excluded as a "motor vehicle", therefore the basic laws of car or truck accidents do not apply with motorcycles. Below are the most important things every motorcycle rider should be aware of regarding motorcycle insurance and accidents on Michigan roads.
Michigan no fault benefits such as wage loss and medical bill compensation can only be collected under certain circumstances.
The type of motorcycle accident you are involved in makes a huge difference in the types of benefits you can collect from insurance. If a motorcycle rider was involved in an accident with a car or truck, he will qualify for Michigan no-fault benefits. Even if the motorcycle operator was found responsible for the accident he would still be entitled to no fault insurance benefits including medical expenses, wage loss for the first three years, household services (chores/help with children), and attendant care (nursing services).
If the motorcyclist is the sole person in the accident then he is not entitled to no-fault benefits because a motorcycle is not considered a "motor vehicle" according to the Michigan no-fault law.
If you are in an accident while operating an uninsured motorcycle for which you the "title" owner, you do NOT qualify for these important no-fault benefits.
You need more than just the basic insurance coverage
While a motorcycle is not considered a motor vehicle in Michigan, motorcyclists are still required by law to carry motorcycle insurance. The only insurance required for a motorcyclist is basic liability coverage for a personal injury suit and property damage (not collision), according to the Michigan no-fault law.
A motorcycle owner can also purchase uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage. Most auto accident attorneys feel it is worth the extra cost. If you are riding your motorcycle and a car hits you, causing serious injuries that leave you unable to work, and the driver of that car has no auto insurance, you will have little or no success in recovering compensation for pain and suffering or excess wage loss. It is strongly recommended that you contact your insurance agent to purchase this additional coverage if you are an owner or registrant of a motorcycle in Michigan.
Failure to wear a helmet can affect a Michigan personal injury lawsuit
Michigan law requires all people riding a motorcycle to wear a crash helmet approved by the department of state police. If you were involved in a motorcycle crash and you were not 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.
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.
An at-fault motorcyclist is usually liable for injuries he caused in an accident
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. The motorcyclist's insurance will provide legal representation and property protection insurance to the person whose property is damaged, if needed. Also, a person suing a motorcyclist who is at fault for an accident can sue for any injury because again, a motorcyclist is not required to carry no fault insurance that motor vehicle operators are required to carry, and thus, the normal no-fault injury threshold would not apply. However, where the motorcyclist is involved with an automobile, some judges have occasionally held that if no-fault benefits have been paid, that the no-fault injury threshold also applies.
Michigan auto and motorcycle accident liability is different from all other states. Damages recoverable from a Michigan motorcycle injury accident will include claims through the victim's own auto insurance company. If the motorcycle driver was determined to be at fault, claims against the negligent driver's insurance involves pain and suffering damages and excess economic damages beyond Michigan's No Fault maximums. All auto insurance policies sold in Michigan include some limited coverage for vehicle damage (mini-tort) and property damage.
Additional resources provided by the author
Additional information, tips and important advice about motorcycle accident cases can be found throughout Michigan Auto Law's resource: