Michigan Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
Motorcyclists often experience a lot of prejudice. Many assume that they’re simply more reckless than car owners — and that motorcycle accidents are always the result of a motorcyclist’s dangerous actions. We know this isn’t the case, and we’re here to help you work towards the compensation you need to recover after a traumatic crash.
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What is Considered a Motorcycle?
Fortunately, Michigan state law does provide direct guidance about the types of vehicles governed by motorcycle laws. According to Michigan Compiled Laws Section 257.31:
“Motorcycle” means a motor vehicle with a saddle or seat for the rider’s use and is designed to travel on not more than 3 wheels in contact with the ground. Motorcycle includes an autocycle, but does not include a tractor.
Michigan Compiled Laws Section 257.25a further clarifies what an autocycle is:
“Autocycle” means a motorcycle that is equipped with safety belts, rollbar or roll hoops, handlebars or a steering wheel, and equipment otherwise required on a motorcycle, has not more than 3 wheels in contact with the roadway at any one time, and is not equipped with a straddle seat.
Whenever a motorist in Michigan uses either of these vehicles, they are expected to follow all Michigan motorcycle laws.
Motorcycle Accident Laws in Michigan
Chapter 257 of the Michigan Compiled Laws covers a wide variety of motorcycle laws — from how old motorcycle passengers must be to whether motorcyclists can use a full traffic lane. We’ll call out a few laws that are especially relevant to motorcycle accidents here:
Am I Required to Have a Motorcycle License?
Yes! To operate a motorcycle on roads in Michigan, the law requires individuals to have a motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license.
What Type of Insurance Do I Need?
To operate your motorcycle in Michigan, motorcyclists must carry liability coverage that covers themselves in the case of bodily injury or death. You’ll need to carry additional medical insurance (first-party medical benefits coverage) if you opt out of wearing a helmet.
Do I Have to Wear a Helmet While Riding a Motorcycle?
According to MCL 257.658(5), motorcyclists over the age of 21 can drive without helmets if they meet certain requirements (e.g., more insurance and more training). Motorcycle riders and operators 20 years and younger must wear crash helmets.
Motorcycle/3rd Party Auto
A motorcyclist was rear-ended by a motor vehicle and catapulted from his bike causing the client to suffer disc herniations, disc bulges, and spinal fusion surgery.
Motorcyclist was recklessly cut-off by a motor vehicle attempting to pass him, causing him to lose control of his motorcycle and sustain a closed head injury and multiple fractures of the thoracic spine. The insurance of the motor vehicle was involved unreasonably refused to pay Plaintiff’s PIP benefits – opting instead to proceed with trial.
How Common are Motorcycle Accidents?
In 2017, over 5,100 motorcyclists died in crashes nationwide. That number accounts for 14% of all motor vehicle fatalities.
In 2019, the injury rate per 100,000 registered motorcycles was 975.
This has led some experts to note that motorcycles tend to be less crashworthy, but motorcyclists are more likely to be involved in a fatal accident — particularly if they don’t happen to be wearing a helmet.
I do not only count on you as one bad ass lawyer, but also a friend. None of this would be possible without you. My deepest gratitude to you, Vic and all of the Moss & Colella team.
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
Due to their specific use and structure, the specific ways that motorcycles most commonly get into accidents do differ slightly from typical car accident triggers. Typical causes of motorcycle accidents include:
- Lane splitting
- Reckless driving
- Poor motorcycle maintenance
- Inexperienced drivers
- Dangerous road conditions
- Sudden stopping
- Riding at night
In addition, any distractions on the part of the motorcyclists — e.g., taking a call, looking around them, or being overly tired — can be as dangerous for motorcyclists (and those around them) as they are for drivers behind more substantial wheels.
Injuries from Motorcycle Crashes
Whether a motorcycle careens off the side of a road or collides with another vehicle, the injuries a motorcyclist can sustain are often quite serious.
Specific, common injuries include:
- Facial disfigurement
- Organ damage
- Internal bleeding
- Broken or amputated limbs
- Broken ribs
- Spinal injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
While these injuries may vary in intensity, each will require the motorcyclist to take at least some time to recuperate.
Recovering from Motorcycle Accident Injuries
While some injuries may resolve themselves in a matter of days, other injuries (such as joint issues or neck injuries) may have lasting repercussions. If the motorcyclist is dealing with emotional or mental trauma, the effects of Traumatic Brain injury or PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) can last for the rest of their lives.
If you’re interested in making sure your recovery process is as effective as possible, consider the following:
- Follow the recommendations of your treating doctors.
- Refrain from smoking.
- Prioritize balance in your diet.
- Rest as much as possible.
- If you have scheduled therapy sessions, keep up with them.
In many situations, recovering from an injury will require considerable resources and time off work. To make that type of rest period accessible for you and your family, it’s in your best interest to work with a professional Michigan motorcycle accident attorney.
What Happens After a Crash?
The moments after a motorcycle crash will be busy and stressful. The actions you take in those few minutes can have an outsized long-term impact. If you’re able to do so, consider these action items after a crash has occurred.
- Make sure that you are safe from further injury. If relevant and possible, move out of the road or away from any dangerous debris.
- Call for medical attention. Even if you don’t see any injuries immediately, there’s always the possibility that you or someone else is suffering an invisible (and serious) injury.
- Call the police. You’ll need to get the accident on the record as quickly as possible. They’ll perform an initial overview of the crash site and note down relevant details.
- Take pictures. Using your phone (if it’s available and working), take pictures of the scene, your bike, any other vehicles involved, and any apparent injuries you may have sustained. (Pro tip: Take more pictures than you think necessary; they’ll help you and your attorney investigate the site in more detail later.)
- Collect information. Ask witnesses for contact information; ask any other involved parties for their insurance details. This information should be included in the police report, but it’s good for you (and your attorney) to have it as well.
Finally, call your attorney. If you don’t have one, call the most experienced Michigan motorcycle lawyer you can find. They’ll immediately take the burden of this stressful situation off your shoulders. One of their first actions will be sending out a notification to all insurance companies involved, routing any further paperwork to their offices instead of to your home. This will truly help you focus more on recovery and less on logistics.
Motorcycle Accident Lawsuits and Crash Settlements
Under Michigan’s personal injury statute of limitations, you have three years after the date of the accident to file a lawsuit. Working with a Michigan personal injury lawyer to get your claim started as quickly as possible after the incident is in your best interest.
Once your attorney has sent out representation notifications and familiarized themselves with your case, they’ll start working towards obtaining maximum compensation for you. They’ll work with the local authorities to review all available information and determine liability; they’ll negotiate with all parties involved (e.g., the various insurance companies, the defendant’s representation, your healthcare representatives) to determine an appropriate settlement.
How do I Get My Settlement?
Once all parties have agreed upon an amount for a settlement and your claim or suit has concluded, your lawyer will receive a check. (It may take several weeks for this check to arrive.) Your lawyer will deposit the amount into a client trust account and take care of any outstanding bills (e.g., medical, motorcycle repair) and assess their fee.
After the costs, attorney fees, and any other liens are satisfied with your permission, the remainder of the settlement money will be issued to you. Depending on the amount of the settlement you may be able to decide on a lump-sum payment or a structured settlement, where periodic regular future payments are issued to you. There are benefits associated with either choice. Speak with your Michigan motorcycle accident attorney to determine which is best and appropriate in your case.
What Kind of Compensation Can Be Recovered?
The rationale underlying damages and compensation is simple: You need resources to recuperate after a traumatic experience. If your employment constitutes the main source of employment for your family, you all will need to have a way to support yourselves if you need to be out of work for some time. Economic damages including lost wages, medical expenses, and household services may be recoverable.
Additionally, under Michigan state law, you may be able to include non-economic damages for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life, fright, and shock as well as disfigurement and other damages. This allows you and your attorney to consider your emotional trauma, ongoing anxiety, and even the future lack of enjoyment you may associate with your motorcycle as you determine a proper figure for your settlement.
As you’re discussing a settlement, keep in mind the most common types of damages included in a motorcycle claim:
- Medical expenses
- Lost wages
- Pain and suffering
- Any damages to your motorcycle
- Support for your family
What are No-Fault Benefits (And Do They Apply for Motorcyclists?)
No-Fault benefits (also known as personal injury protection benefits) are a type of insurance coverage that motorcyclists in Michigan can carry for themselves. Through no-fault benefits, your own insurance coverage will pay all or some of your medical expenses if you’re in a crash, regardless of who is at fault.
In Michigan, motorcyclists are not required to purchase this coverage. However, an injured motorcyclist can collect No Fault benefits if the accident involved a truck or a car.
In order to collect no-fault benefits, the injured motorcyclist must file for them within one year of the accident. Figuring out who pays for your benefits can be a little tricky:
- First, injured motorcyclists should seek benefits from the insurance company covering the truck or car that was involved in the accident.
- After that, the next step would be to check with the insurance company covering the driver of the truck or car.
- Failing that, the injured motorcyclist would need to speak with their own medical insurers and, finally, check with the company insuring the motorcycle owner (if it is a different person).
- If none of these parties are responsible for paying for the injured motorcyclist’s benefits, the motorcyclist would need to file a claim with the state.
Clearly, this is quite complex — and likely not what you need to be thinking about if you’ve just been involved in a motorcycle accident. If you believe that you’ll need to file for No Faults benefits, make sure you’re working with a Michigan motorcycle attorney that has specific experience in the area. They’ll also be able to determine how to get you the maximum allowed damages within limits associated with No Faults benefits.
How do Benefits Work After a Fatal Motorcycle Accident?
If you have recently lost a loved one after a fatal motorcycle accident, we are extremely sorry for your loss. Much of the information in this guide will be the same in the event of a wrongful death claim. A personal representative (typically a family member) will file a claim on behalf of the late motorcyclist. The damages assessed can include accidental or wrongful death as well as many of the other personal injury damages and funeral expenses.
What You Should Look For When Choosing the Best Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Interested in working with an experienced professional?
Not all lawyers are made the same. When you’re looking for an attorney, make sure that you find someone who’s best poised to help you. Take a look at the previous motorcycle accident cases they’ve tackled; you’ll want to see that they’ve been successful when handling similar cases in the past.
Fortunately, motorcycle accident cases are handled on a contingency fee basis. As the client, you do not pay fees unless your lawyer wins your case, in which your attorney will then assess payment once you receive your settlement. Ask your Michigan personal injury lawyer about their fee structures in the initial interview!
Finally, make sure that your Michigan motorcycle injury lawyer seems like someone you can trust. You’ll be working closely with them until your case is completed. Call an experienced Michigan motorcycle accident attorney today to start working towards maximum compensation.