Riding a motorcycle on the open road is a thrilling and fun experience. Unfortunately, a simple trip can turn tragic and fatal when someone else causes a crash with a motorcycle. When this happens, it is vital to contact an experienced and caring motorcycle injury lawyer and legal team in Michigan who can explain the law to you and answer your questions.
In 2018, there were 126 motorcycle crashes in Michigan resulting in 134 fatalities. There are a number of different causes for motorcycle deaths in Michigan. Drugs and alcohol are the most common reasons, with speeding and distracted driving also popular factors for Michigan motorcyclists to be injured in a motorcycle accident.
Following a motorcycle crash in Michigan, the responding law enforcement agency along with the Michigan State Police will perform a fatal crash report. This report is much more detailed than regular police reports following a crash. It may include a full toxicology report for the parties involved in the accident, witness statements, photographs, and diagrams of the accident scene. It may also include an accident reconstruction report, where a police officer who specializes in accident reconstruction will investigate the accident scene, looking for clues to determine how and why the crash occurred. This report may include measurements, photos, an analysis of the black box or electronic data recorder in a vehicle, and other investigation data to aid in an evaluation of the accident.
Survivors Loss Claims Following a Motorcycle Death
When an individual dies in a motorcycle crash, the surviving family members may be entitled to certain benefits under the Michigan no-fault law. This is called a Survivors’ Loss claim. This claim is made with a car insurance carrier, not the insurance company for the motorcycle. To be eligible for a survivors’ loss claim, a few conditions must be met:
- If the motorcycle owner is the victim, he or she must have maintained motorcycle insurance on the motorcycle involved in the accident. If the bike was uninsured, then a Survivors’ Loss claim cannot be made.
- A motor vehicle must be involved in causing the crash. A motor vehicle is a car or truck. If another motorcycle, or something other than a car or truck caused the crash, such as an off-road vehicle or snowmobile caused the accident, then a Survivors’ Loss claim cannot be made.
- The person who died in the motorcycle accident must have had dependents. Dependents can include a spouse or children under the age of 18.
Which Insurance Company is Responsible for Paying the Survivors’ Loss PIP Claim?
Under Michigan law, there is an order to follow to determine which auto insurance company pays the PIP benefits, including survivor’s loss benefits. This is known as the “order of priority.” The insurance company for the motorcycle does not pay this. The order of priority for a motorcycle accident death 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
What Benefits Are Available for Surviving Family Members of a Motorcycle Wrongful Death?
Surviving family members can obtain compensation in two different ways following a wrongful death motorcycle crash. Assuming a survivors’ loss claim can be opened, the survivors’ loss benefits to be paid out include “tangible things of economic value”, which lost wages for 3 years as well as lost fringe benefits – such as a pension, investment income, annuity income and disability coverage. The family can also receive replacement services for up to 3 years from the date of the accident.
Survivors’ Loss claims are only available up to the no-fault coverage cap available for the claim. Under the old rules, there was no cap as survivors’ loss policies were unlimited. However, this has changed and it is important to consult with an experienced and professional Michigan personal injury lawyer to find out the amount that applies in your situation.
Pain and Suffering Compensation for Motorcycle Wrongful Death
Another form of compensation is through a negligence, or wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver who caused the accident. The amount of compensation in these situations involves a few different factors. First, whether the deceased contributed to the crash at all. If he or she was more than 50% at-fault, then the surviving family members cannot proceed with a wrongful death claim. The amount of compensation can then be reduced by the proportion of fault on the part of the deceased motorcycle rider.
Second, the amount of insurance that covers the at-fault vehicle is also especially important. If the at-fault driver or owner had a low insurance policy, there can be other ways to obtain more compensation for the tragedy. A dedicated and aggressive motorcycle accident injury lawyer can assist with this.
Legal Help for Motorcycle Wrongful Cases in Michigan
The dedicated Michigan motorcycle accident lawyers at the Lee Steinberg Law Firm, P.C. and Lee Steinberg Law Firm has spent their entire professional lives assisting and winning cases for Michigan motorcycle crash victims. We work tirelessly to pursue every avenue for recovery. Please call toll free at 1-800-LEE-FREE (1-800-533-3733) for a free consultation. There is never a fee until we win your case.
Under a Michigan wrongful death case, the survivors, and there’s certain people who can be survivors, like next of kin, spouses, relatives, can file an action on behalf of the estate. And that those individuals can receive compensation for the death of a loved one. This is a very common thing, something that we handle all the time. Obviously, it’s the most tragic type of case that we deal with every single day but when someone dies, you’re entitled to the loss of companionship, the pain and suffering of not having that loved one with you anymore. And those cases are pretty similar in the way they’re done than in other cases but there’s some other things that need to be considered when you have a wrongful death case. You’ve just got to make sure they’re probate and the estate is set up correctly, and we do that.
And we just want to also put together some other items because obviously the person is dead and can’t talk about what happened, the pain they went through before everything, before the death occurred. The dead person can’t speak so we need the family members and we need people to be able to be a voice for that person. So we meet and we walk everybody through the case and we do our homework and make sure that these cases are presented in a powerful way so the family can have justice and fair compensation after the death of their loved one.