The motorcycle accident lawyers at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C. have been representing riders throughout the state for more than 40 years. We represent bikers and their passengers for the payment of Michigan no-fault benefits as well as compensation for pain and suffering.
Motorcycle accidents in Michigan resulting in injury are a special type of case. They demand a special analysis and require motorcycle accident specialists to ensure the injured victim gets full compensation. Our legal team of motorcycle accident lawyers have handled hundreds of motorcycle wrecks all over the state. We have a team of legal professionals that work with experts and doctors to obtain the best outcome for our clients.
What Compensation Can I Get From a Motorcycle Accident?
Michigan is different than most other states because it is a no-fault state. Under the Michigan no-fault law, so long as a motor vehicle (car or truck) is involved in causing the motorcycle accident, the car insurance carrier is responsible for paying certain benefits up to the amount of PIP (personal injury protection) coverage the motor vehicle maintained.
PIP benefits cover all reasonably necessary medical expenses related to the accident. These benefits include the payment of hospital bills, doctor’s bills, prescriptions and other medical expenses. PIP benefits also include lost wages for three years, replacement services (to cover household chores or childcare the victim can no longer complete) for three years, attendant care such as in-home nursing, medical mileage, and even home modifications.
In addition to these no-fault benefits, so long as the driver of the other vehicle was at least 50% at-fault for causing the accident, then a motorcycle operator or passenger injured in a crash can also collect pain and suffering. Pain and suffering compensation is also known as “non-economic damages” and there are many different types, including:
- Emotional distress
- Loss of enjoyment of life
- Loss of companionship
- Loss of quality of life
- Mental suffering
(click image to see entire infographic)
Do All Motorcycle Accident Victims Get No-Fault Benefits?
In order to receive Michigan no-fault PIP benefits for a motorcycle accident, a motor vehicle must be involved in causing the crash. A motorcycle is not a motor vehicle under the eyes of the law. A motor vehicle has more than two wheels, like a car or truck.
For example, if a motorcyclist is a hit by a car, then that person can make a claim for no-fault benefits. However, if a motorcyclist hits a road sign, deer, or loses control of his or her bike, then no claim for PIP benefits is allowed because a motor vehicle was not involved in the crash.
In addition, there is an insurance requirement. The owner of a motorcycle injured in an accident can get PIP benefits only if there is liability coverage on the motorcycle. If the owner or registered owner failed to insure the motorcycle, then that person cannot receive no-fault benefits.
Passengers on a bike however are treated differently. So long as the passenger is not also a co-owner of the bike, an injured passenger can receive no-fault benefits even if the motorcycle is not insured.
A person operating a motorcycle can also be excluded from receiving PIP benefits if that person was specifically excluded under the policy.
Which Insurance Company Pays No-Fault Benefits Following a Michigan Motorcycle Crash?
Figuring out which car insurance company is responsible for paying a no-fault claim is determined by Michigan law. This is known as the “order of priority.” The order of priority for a motorcycle accident case in Michigan is the following:
- The auto insurance for the owner or registrant of the motor vehicle involved in the crash.
- The auto insurance for the driver of the motor vehicle involved in the crash.
- The auto insurance for the operator of the motorcycle involved in the crash.
- The auto insurance of the owner or registrant of the motorcycle involved in the crash.
- The Michigan Assigned Claims Plan
The order of priority for a motorcycle case is different than a car accident involving a car or truck. For a Michigan motorcycle no-fault claim, the car insurance company for the owner of the motor vehicle involved in the wreck must pay the claim. If the owner of the car or truck is not insured, then you look to the driver of the car or truck and that person’s auto insurance to pay benefits.
If there is no car insurance at those two levels, then you go back to the operator of the motorcycle and the auto insurance carrier for that individual must pay the entire claim. If the motorcycle operator did not have car insurance at the time of the crash, then the owner of the motorcycle (if it’s a different person than the operator), must pay no-fault benefits.
If there is no insurance at any of these levels, then the motorcycle crash victim must apply for an insurance carrier to pay the claim through the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan (MACP). The MACP is an organization administered by the state but really controlled by the insurance industry. Under Michigan law, the MACP must assign an insurance carrier, such as Allstate or Farm Bureau, to pay no-fault benefits.
What are Common Injuries from a Motorcycle Accident?
Motorcycles are not like car or trucks. With no protection, motorcyclists are incredibly vulnerable in an accident. There is nothing to stop the violent collision between the body and the object with which it collides. The results can be very serious injuries. Even seemingly minor accidents can have catastrophic effects. Some of the more common motorcycle injuries include:
- Broken bones;
- Spinal cord injuries, including paralysis;
- Whiplash, such as low back pain and neck pain;
- Numbness and tingling in the arms and legs;
- Closed head injuries, traumatic brain injury, coma;
- Road rash, severe burns and scarring
- Internal bleeding
- Facial injuries, such as dental damage and scarring
- Fatal injuries, wrongful death
Medical treatment following these injuries can be very extensive. It can range from more conservative treatment regimens like physical therapy and prescription pain medication, to much more expensive treatments such as surgery and in-patient rehabilitation.
Traumatic brain injury is unfortunately very prevalent following a motorcycle crash. Individuals who sustain traumatic brain injury can have cognitive impairments, memory issues, speech impairments and decreases in basic motor skills. Specialized treatment plans are often needed, with specialists in neurology and neuropsychology working with patients to improve their memory, moods and ability to function in a more normal capacity. These plans are very expensive and can exceed the no-fault PIP coverage available. When this happens, there may be other avenues to pay for this long-term care.
What Are Some of the Common Causes of Motorcycle Crashes?
Motorcycle accident can occur for a variety of reasons. Like driving a car, motorcycle crashes occur when someone fails to take proper precautions and makes a poor decision.
- Running a stop sign or running a red light
- Inattentive driving
- Drugs and Alcohol
- Making an illegal left-hand turn
- Head-on collisions
- Left hand turn
- Texting and driving or using a cell phone
- Improper lane change
What is the Definition of a Motorcycle in Michigan?
In Michigan, what is considered a motorcycle is very important. Knowing the difference can mean whether individuals are entitled to valuable Michigan no-fault benefits or not. In fact, the Michigan legislature has provided a specific definition of a motorcycle:
“Motorcycle” means a vehicle that has a saddle or seat for the use of the rider, is designed to travel on not more than 3 wheels in contact with the ground, and is equipped with a motor that exceeds 50 cubic centimeters piston displacement. For purposes of this subdivision, the wheels on any attachment to the vehicle are not considered as wheels in contact with the ground. Motorcycle does not include a moped or an ORV. See MCL 500.3101(3)(g).
The 50 cubic centimeters or 50 ccs limit is important because if an engine has at least 50 ccs, under Michigan law the motorcycle must have insurance if it is going to be operated on Michigan roadways. Failing to do so means the owner of a motorcycle forfeits his or her right to all Michigan no-fault benefits following an accident.
Michigan Motorcycle Crash Statistics
In 2018, there were 2,325 motorcycle injuries and 134 motorcycle crash fatalities in Michigan. Of the fatalities, 45 involved alcohol. Other motorcycle accident statistics include:
- 99 injuries involved distracted driving.
- 46 injuries involved drugs.
- Wayne County had 432 motorcycle crashes. Oakland had 220 motorcycle accidents, Macomb had 204 motorcycle crashes, Kent has 180 motorcycle crashes and Genesee had 98 motorcycle accidents.
- Most motorcycle accidents occur on local streets, rather than on busy highways.
- 82% of all motorcycle accident injuries were men.
- The most common infraction given to motorcycle operators by police officers was “failure to yield.” The next most common infraction was speeding.
- 29% of the motorcycle operators or passengers injured in an accident were not wearing a helmet.
- Individuals not wearing helmets were much more likely to be severely injured in a motorcycle accident than a person wearing a helmet.
What is the Statute of Limitations of a Michigan Motorcycle Accident Case?
The statute of limitations is the amount of time you have to file a lawsuit for compensation against a defendant before time runs out. For Michigan motorcycle accident injury cases, there is 3-year statute of limitation for claims against a negligent driver. This means you have 3 years from the date of the accident to file a lawsuit in court against the defendant(s). If you don’t file a lawsuit in that time, you cannot pursue a case for compensation.
However, there are special rules for minors, who are typically given a longer period of time to file a lawsuit.
The statute of limitations for Michigan no-fault PIP benefits that arise from a Michigan motorcycle crash is different. Under the law, you have one-year from the date a benefit is incurred to file a lawsuit. If the benefit, such as lost wages or a medical bill is incurred, and more than one-year passes, you can lose your ability to recoup that benefit. However, the law in Michigan has changed and it is now possible to obtain benefits that are older than a year.
The statute of limitations for motorcycle cases in Michigan is especially important. Talk to an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer to learn about your rights and to find out if you still have time to file a claim.
Who Do I Sue in a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit?
In most instances, the driver of the negligent vehicle that caused the accident will need to be included in any lawsuit claiming pain and suffering compensation following a Michigan motorcycle crash. The lawsuit, also known as a Complaint, will list the things the driver did wrong to cause the accident. This can include statutory violations, such as drinking and driving or speeding.
Another defendant is the owner of the vehicle that caused the accident. Under the Owner’s Liability statute, the owner of a vehicle involved in an accident is also liable for all the damages from the crash. This is true even if the owner was not using the car at the time of the crash. So long as the owner gave permission for an individual to use the vehicle, then the owner is on the hook too.
Sometimes, companies are defendants in motorcycle accident cases in Michigan. This can occur when a company is the owner of the at-fault car or truck. It can also occur if the company negligently entrusted the vehicle to a negligent driver.
In a Michigan no-fault claim, the proper defendant is not the driver or owner of the motorcycle crash. Because you are suing for statutory benefits found directly in the Michigan no-fault law, as well as contractual damages found in a car insurance policy, the proper defendant is the car insurance company responsible for paying the claim.
PIP lawsuits usually involve a situation where the no-fault carrier, such as State Farm or Geico, refuses to pay outstanding benefits that are due and owing. Under the law, car insurers must pay for benefits such as medical expenses, lost wages and replacement services. When they refuse to pay such benefits, a lawsuit filed in court is needed.
What Types of Motorcycle Insurance Are There?
Motorcycle insurance is very similar to car insurance in the types of insurance coverages offered and sold to the public.
First, liability insurance is mandatory for all motorcycle insurance policies. Liability insurance covers you if you or a bike you own are the cause of a motorcycle crash in Michigan. The minimum amount of liability coverage is $50,000 per person or $100,000 per occurrence. However, the default limit of $250,000 per person and $500,000 per occurrence is recommended.
Collision coverage covers property damage to a motorcycle that results from a crash with a car, truck, or motorcycle, or with an object. Comprehensive insurance covers property damage to a motorcycle that is not from a collision. Typical comprehensive claims include theft, vandalism, or falling objects. Both coverages have limits, usually the present cash value of the bike, and both have deductibles.
Uninsured benefits allow for pain and suffering compensation for a motorcycle operator who is injured by a negligent car that is not insured.
Some motorcycle policies also have medical payment coverage. This coverage covers medical bills, such as hospital stays and doctor visits if PIP coverage is not available. This coverage does not cover injuries to others, only the motorcycle operator and possibly passengers. Motorcycle medical coverage is typically sold in $5,000 increments in Michigan.
Under Michigan law, auto insurance PIP coverage is available if a motor vehicle (such as a car or truck) are involved in the accident. In that situation, the PIP coverage will pay medical expenses. However, if no motor vehicle is involved, then no PIP coverage is available to pay the medical bills.
Michigan Motorcycle Accident Injury Lawyers
Motorcycle accidents can be life changing events. The injuries can cause massive medical bills, lost wages and the inability to pay for even basic things. The road to recovery can be long and emotionally draining for injured motorcyclist. Sometimes, the injuries are permanent and the body can never return to what was once normal. However, there is help, even regarding wrongful death motorcycle accidents.
The dedicated motorcycle accident attorneys at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C. and Lee Steinberg Law Firm have spent their entire professionally lives assisting and winning cases for Michigan motorcycle crash victims. We work tirelessly and aggressively to pursue every avenue for recovery.
We work with experts and doctors to ensure the best possible outcome and money compensation for your case. There is never a fee until we win. Please call toll free at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) for a free consultation.
Video transcript 1
So a question we often get here is I didn’t have a motorcycle insurance. Can I still make a claim for compensation? And the answer is absolutely yes. Under the law here in Michigan, just because your bike wasn’t insured, it doesn’t mean that you can’t make a claim for pain and suffering compensation. You absolutely can. This is different than if you have a car that’s uninsured. In that situation, you can’t make a claim for compensation if you were occupying or driving around your own uninsured car. Not the case for motorcycles. You can still make a claim against the at fault driver for compensation even if you don’t have motorcycle insurance. You still have to prove the other guy’s at least 50% at fault, you still have to prove that your injuries are related to the motorcycle accident, and you still have to prove what your injuries are, but yes, you can make a claim. And we’ve been helping motorcycle injury victims here for over 40 years. Take care.
Video transcript 2
So there’s two main forms of compensation if you’ve been involved in a motorcycle accident. The first is compensation for your pain and suffering, and that comes from the person who caused the accident, either the driver or the vehicle owner of the person who caused the accident. Under Michigan law, you have to prove that the other person was at least 50% at fault for causing the accident. If you can do that, you can make a claim for pain and suffering compensation. And that’s done through, obviously, testimony of the people involved, the police officer looking at the police report, sometimes accident reconstruction experts will be needed to prove that the other person caused the accident.
Another way to get compensation is by filing a claim for no fault benefits. And no fault benefits include the payment of medical expenses, lost wages, out of pocket costs, prescriptions, and other medical expenses that are from your motorcycle injuries. Now, the law is changing. So what this means is that typically the auto insurance carrier pays for all the medical expenses related to this. Now there’s going to be caps in the amount of medical coverage that a lot of people will have. So at some point, if the medical bills are too much and the cap is met, then you will go after the other person who caused the accident. Not only for the pain and suffering, but the medical bills that are still remaining, the lost wages that still remain related it to your motorcycle accident.