On July 1, 2020, major changes kicked in to the No-Fault law and the Detroit and Michigan car accident law. These changes directly impacted motorcycle drivers and passengers. If you are a motorcyclist in Michigan, you need to know the details of these changes and how it impacts you if you are involved in a traffic accident. In this blog, we discuss details of the Michigan No-Fault Law, including how you can qualify, who provides the benefits and what’s included.
Michigan’s No-Fault Law
Michigan’s No-Fault law states that a motorcycle is not a motor vehicle. This means a motorcyclist in Detroit can get PIP no-fault benefits, but only if a motor vehicle is involved in the accident. A motor vehicle is typically a car or truck.
In addition, if a motorcycle owner is injured in a wreck with a motor vehicle, he or she qualifies for no-fault benefits but only if they had liability insurance on their motorcycle. Passengers and non-owners are eligible for PIP benefits even if they don’t have motorcycle insurance.
The motor vehicle doesn’t need to have directly impacted your motorcycle for you to qualify. For example, a car comes into your lane and you are forced to ditch your bike. You get injured, even though there was no physical contact with the car. You are still entitled to Michigan no-fault benefits.
What’s Included in No-Fault Benefits?
If you qualify for no-fault benefits, you can expect to receive compensation for expenses related to your wreck including:
- Medical bills: You’ll receive compensation for any medical bills you accumulated from the accident including doctor’s visits, surgeries, prescriptions, and other medical expenses. The amount that you can receive in compensation depends on the insurance policy.
- Lost wages: If you have to take temporary or permanent time away from work to recover from your injuries, you can receive compensation for your lost wages during your recovery period.
- Long-term rehabilitation: If you require long-term care or rehabilitation as a result of your injuries, you can receive compensation from no-fault benefits. These include home modifications, in-home care staff, vehicle modifications, and more.
Who Provides Michigan No-Fault Benefits?
There is an order for which auto insurance company must pay the no-fault benefits in a Detroit motorcycle accident case. This order is different than when just motor vehicles are involved. Under MCL 500.3114(5), the order is the following:
- The car owner’s insurance company: If you’re involved in an accident with a motor vehicle, the vehicle owner’s insurance company is required to pay for the no-fault benefits. If the owner does not have auto insurance, then the auto insurance for the driver must pay the claim.
- Your car insurance company: If the motor vehicle owner and driver do not have car insurance, the auto insurance company of the motorcycle operator must pay the no-fault benefits. If the operator doesn’t have car insurance, then the car insurance company of the motorcycle owner must pay.
- The Michigan Assigned Claims Plan: If no one has car insurance, the injured person must file a claim with the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan (MACP). After an application is completed and submitted, the MACP will assign a car insurance carrier to pay no-fault benefits.
Medical Benefits May Be Limited
Under the old Michigan no-fault law, there was no dollar limitation on how much a car insurance company had to pay in medical expenses related to a motorcycle accident. If you incurred $1 million in bills, the auto insurance company had to pay that amount. Car insurance companies could only sell unlimited PIP policies.
Today, people can choose to purchase limited PIP. Some people chose $250,000 in coverage. Other folks can purchase only $50,000 or none at all if eligible. The problem is under the new law, the motorcyclist is held captive to the amount of PIP benefits the car or truck driver purchased. Because the other guy is first in the order of priority, you are stuck with whatever amount of PIP coverage they have.
For example, you own two cars and smartly purchased unlimited PIP medical for your cars with State Farm. You also own a Harley Davidson that is insured with Progressive. While riding one day, you get hit by a truck driver who ran a red light. That truck driver has Allstate Insurance and only had $50,000 in PIP coverage. Because the truck driver only had $50,000 in PIP, that’s all you can use to pay the medical bills. You are not allowed to then go back to your own auto insurance for payment after the $50,000 is used up. It doesn’t make any sense but that is the law.
Instead, any outstanding medical bills must go through the pain and suffering claim. Allstate would be responsible for paying your medical bills over and above the $50,000, but not the PIP department. Instead, the bodily injury department for Allstate must pay.
It is confusing. That’s why it’s important call an expert in Detroit and Michigan motorcycle accidents.
Making a Claim for Pain and Suffering
Even though you can file a no-fault benefit claim through an auto insurance company or through the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan, the no-fault benefits don’t cover certain damages.
If you wish to seek pain and suffering, then you would need to file a separate claim against the at-fault driver and owner. You can file a personal injury claim in addition to your no-fault benefits claim. As mentioned above, medical bills and lost wages not paid by a PIP carrier because all the PIP coverage was used up can be asserted in the pain and suffering case.
Pain and suffering cases are very different then no-fault cases. Under Michigan law, you must prove the other driver was at least 50% at-fault for causing the crash. In addition, you have to prove a “threshold injury.” In other words, you must be injured enough to get compensation. Just because you are involved in a motorcycle crash in Michigan does not mean you get money.
That is why it is important to contact an experienced and aggressive motorcycle accident law firm near you to assist you in your case.
Contact a Detroit Motorcycle Accident Attorney
Although receiving no-fault benefits should be an easy process, insurance companies often attempt to avoid paying no-fault benefits. They may try to say that the other vehicle wasn’t a factor in your wreck, meaning you don’t qualify for no-fault benefits. Or they may argue your injuries are not related to the motorcycle accident.
If you’re having trouble receiving the no-fault benefits you deserve, you need a motorcycle attorney at your side to help you recover compensation from the responsible insurance company.
Here at Lee Steinberg Law Firm, we’ve handled many different no-fault benefits cases, and we can help you hold the appropriate insurance company responsible. You shouldn’t have to pay out of pocket if you qualify for no-fault benefits. Call our office at 1-800-533-3733, or you can schedule a free case evaluation here.