Michigan No-Fault Questions and Motorcycle Accidents

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Common Questions About Motorcycle Accidents and Michigan’s No-Fault Law

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Key Points of This Article:

  • From 2014 to 2018, the average number of motorcycle fatalities in Michigan per year was around 131, which is an increase of 13 people compared to previous years, according to the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning.
  • Metro Detroit areas, including Wayne, Oakland, and Macomb counties average more than three motorcycle-vehicle crashes every day in peak riding season during May-September.
  • Individuals recovering from a motorcycle accident injury may accept insurance payouts without recognizing the limits to their future benefits and medical treatment coverage.
  • At the Law Offices of Lee Steinberg, P.C., we will do what it takes to get your motorcycle accident case resolved and can answer questions about Michigan’s no-fault law. 

Nearly 260,000 private and commercial motorcycles are registered in Michigan each year, resulting in about 2,750 crashes. And for those who will be injured, most are surprised to know that motorcycles are treated differently than other motor vehicles with four wheels such as a car or truck, which can make the process of filing a claim for no-fault benefits confusing to understand.

Here is a list of five common questions the Michigan motorcycle accident and no-fault lawyers at the Law Offices of Lee Steinberg, P.C., often receive.

  1. My motorcycle is registered in Michigan. Do I need to purchase Michigan auto no-fault insurance?

Under the law, a motorcycle is not considered a “motor vehicle.” Therefore, motorcycle owners/registrants are not required to purchase Michigan no-fault auto insurance. However, the owner or registrant of a motorcycle is required to purchase traditional liability insurance for bodily injury, death, or property damage [MCL 500.3103(1)].

To claim for no-fault benefits after a motorcycle accident, the owner or registered owner of the motorcycle must have minimal basic liability insurance. Only then, and if a motor vehicle, like a car or truck, was involved in the accident, can a rider claim for no-fault benefits. Your no-fault insurance does not pay for repairs to your motorcycle if it is damaged in an accident.

  1. Are there any options for uninsured motorcyclists to claim benefits?

If you failed to purchase insurance for your motorcycle and another driver crashes into you, you can make a claim for pain and suffering. But you are not eligible to claim no-fault benefits, like medical bills or lost wages, from an auto insurance company.

However, assuming the other person was at fault for causing the accident, if the uninsured bike you were riding was someone else’s, you can still claim for no-fault benefits and pain and suffering because it was not your responsibility to carry the bike’s insurance.

  1. How do I know if I can make a claim to receive no-fault benefits?

To claim no-fault benefits and begin receiving payments for medical bills and lost wages, a motor vehicle must have been involved in causing the accident.

Here are a few examples of when no-fault laws come into play, and you can make a claim.

  • You are riding down a street, and a distracted driver of a Ford Taurus fails to stop and causes you to crash your bike without making contact with the vehicle.
  • A semi-truck is speeding through lanes on I-94, weaving and causing you to put on your brakes and lay down your bike, causing a chain-reaction type of crash.
  • To avoid being hit by a drunk driver crossing the centerline, you have to quickly react and cause an accident with another driver.

For accidents caused by a rider’s loss of control or because they were not correctly trained to maneuver their motorcycle, claiming Michigan no-fault benefits through an auto insurance carrier isn’t possible.

  1. What if another driver’s actions triggered my motorcycle to cause an accident and injuries to others?

If you were riding your motorcycle and forced to run into an intersection or another lane and cause an accident with other drivers, you have the right to claim no-fault claim benefits. So long as a motor vehicle, like a car or truck, was involved in causing your actions and the accident.

  1. So, what car insurance pays the no-fault benefits for my motorcycle accident?

In Michigan, there have been many changes to how no-fault benefits can be claimed after an auto or motorcycle accident, but so far, who pays first hasn’t been altered.

  • Person Who Hit You Own the Vehicle AND It Is Insured: You were riding your motorcycle when hit by a car in a parking lot, and the person who owns the vehicle that hit you is insured with AAA Insurance. AAA will be the one to pay your no-fault benefits related to this claim, including your medical bills and loss of wages.
  • Person Who Hit You Does Not Own the Vehicle BUT Does Have An Auto Insurance Policy: While waiting on your bike at an intersection, and ready to turn left, you are rear-ended by the driver of an SUV. The driver did not own the vehicle, and it is not insured, but the driver did have another policy through State Farm. In this case, State Farm would be responsible for paying those benefits.
  • Person Who Hit You Owns the Vehicle BUT Is Not Insured: If the owner and the driver of the vehicle caused your motorcycle to crash, and they didn’t have insurance, your auto insurance, perhaps carried through Geico, for your car and not a motorcycle, would pay for your benefits. If you do not have any insurance, but your sister, who lives with you has Citizens Insurance, then Citizens would pay for the claim. A no-fault policy covers all family members living in the same house.
  • There is No Insurance Policy Involved: If there are no insurance policies involved by either party, the State of Michigan gets involved through the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan (MACP) and initiates an extensive and lengthy application process. Once complete, the state will assign an insurance company like Farm Bureau, or Allstate to pay your claim for no-fault benefits.

This is only a summary of how no-fault auto insurance works related to some Michigan motorcycle accident claims. Each case is different, and the details and outcomes may reflect that.

Request Legal Help with Your Michigan Motorcycle Accident and No-Fault Auto Insurance Claim

After you have been in a motor vehicle or motorcycle accident, it is very reasonable to have questions. It’s our job as personal injury attorneys to hear what you have to say, review the No-Fault options available, and help seek out the benefits that are rightfully yours. Let us take on the legal fight for the compensation you deserve. Call the Law Offices of Lee Steinberg, P.C. toll-free at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) for a free consultation. 

Also read: Where and When Michigan Motorcycle Crashes Happen Most Often

Video Transcript 1

For purposes of a motorcycle accident, motorcycles are treated differently than a motor vehicle. A motor vehicle is something that is propelled by a motor that has four wheels. So a car is a motor vehicle, a truck is a motor vehicle. Under Michigan law, and this is important, a motorcycle is not a motor vehicle. So in order to make a claim for no fault benefits, such as getting medical bills paid and lost wages paid, a motor vehicle has to be involved in causing the accident with a motorcycle. So this is important.

If you are riding your motorcycle and you lose control and no motor vehicle’s involved like a car or truck, you cannot make a claim for Michigan no fault benefits through an auto insurance carrier. However, if you’re riding down a street and some other driver runs a red light and you drop your bike, even if you don’t make any contact because that car was involved in causing the accident by running the red light, you can make a claim for Michigan no fault benefits, even though you were on a motorcycle. Another thing to remember is it doesn’t matter who’s at fault, even if you’re at fault for running the red light or causing the accident so long as a motor vehicle, like a car or truck is involved in causing the accident, you can make a claim for Michigan no fault benefits, just the same as if you were in your own car or your own truck.

 Video Transcript 2

You can make a claim for no-fault benefits. However, there’s one big requirement. If you are the owner or registered owner of the motorcycle and you’re involved in the accident, your motorcycle has to have insurance, just basic liability insurance. If it does, you can make a claim for no-fault benefits, again, so long as a motor vehicle, like a car or truck, was involved in the accident.

If you are driving around your own motorcycle and it’s not insured and another person blows a red light and slams into you, you can still make a claim for pain and suffering. But you cannot make a claim for no-fault benefits, like medical bills, lost wages, from an auto insurance company, all right? So it’s important to understand that difference. You still can make a claim for pain and suffering if you didn’t have insurance on your bike, but you cannot make a claim for no-fault benefits.

Now, if you’re riding a bike that’s not yours, you’re not the owner, you’re okay. You can still make a claim for no-fault benefits, even if that bike’s not insured, because it is not your bike. It’s someone else’s bike. It wasn’t your responsibility to insure that bike. You can also make a claim for pain and suffering, again, assuming the other person was at fault for causing the accident.

Video Transcript 3

Right now there’s been a lot of changes in the order of who pays an auto accident claim for no fault benefits. As it stands right now, even with the new law, the order hasn’t changed. So if you’re involved in a motorcycle accident, the other person, usually you start with your own car insurance and your own car insurance pays the claim, but not for a motorcycle accident case.

In cases involving a motorcycle, the owner of the vehicle who was involved in the car accident pays the no fault benefits. So let’s say you get hit by a car at an intersection, you’re riding your motorcycle and the person who owns the vehicle is insured with AAA Insurance. AAA has to pay your no fault benefits related to this claim, like your medical bills and loss of wages.

Let’s say the owner of this vehicle didn’t have insurance. Let’s say the driver, which sometimes can be different than the owner, did have insurance. Then you go to the driver, let’s say the driver had State Farm. Then State Farm would be responsible for paying those benefits.

Let’s say the owner and the driver of the vehicle didn’t have insurance. Then you go back to your own insurance, your own auto insurance. So let’s say you yourself have carried Allstate, not for your bike, but for your car. Then Allstate Insurance, your own auto insurance carrier would pay for your benefits.

If you didn’t have anything there, then it goes for a resident relative, someone you lived with, and they had car insurance. So let’s say you didn’t have any insurance, but your sister who lives with you has Citizens Insurance. Then Citizens would pay for that claim.

And there’s no insurance after that. Then what happens is the State of Michigan gets involved through the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan or the MACP. And what happens is you fill out an application. It’s quite an extensive application. Well it used to be like a three page easy app has turned into like a million questions. But you got to complete that app, and then the State of Michigan will assign an insurance company like Farm Bureau, like Allstate to pay your claim for no fault benefits.

And again, if you have any questions about this, we do these every single day. Give our office a call.