Motorcycle accidents often result in catastrophic injuries to the motorcyclist, even when the accident occurred at a slow speed. While a driver of a car or truck may have metal structures and barriers to protect him or her, a motorcyclist is fully exposed and vulnerable to the force of a collision. Both economic and noneconomic damages may be substantial.
Motorcycle insurance laws in Michigan are complicated. Michigan is a no-fault state, which means that drivers of cars are required to turn to their own insurance to recover economic damages first. However, Michigan only requires owners of motor vehicles that are required to be registered in the state to purchase no-fault insurance.
A motorcycle is not considered a motor vehicle under this law, and motorcyclists need not purchase no-fault insurance. Instead, they must purchase traditional liability insurance for bodily injury or death. They also have the option of buying other coverage, such as personal injury protection coverage. If they decline to buy traditional liability insurance, they will be disqualified from getting no-fault benefits that may be available.
Assuming another motor vehicle was involved in the motorcycle accident, your case will be handled like a first-party or third-party auto accident insurance case. A motorcyclist will qualify for no-fault benefits if there is an accident involving a moving (non-parked) vehicle. However, if there is an accident with a parked vehicle, the motorcyclist will not qualify for no-fault benefits, and similarly, a motorcyclist involved in an accident with a pedestrian will not qualify.
The order of priority as to which insurer will pay no-fault benefits for a motorcyclist's injuries when the motorcyclist qualifies for these benefits is complicated. An auto insurer of a car's owner, when a car is involved in the accident, is first in line to pay. Second in line is the insurer of the driver of the car involved in the accident. Third in line is the motorcyclist's automobile insurer, assuming the motorcyclist has a covered automobile. Fourth is the auto insurer of the motorcycle's owner. Finally, the State of Michigan Assigned Claims Plan is last in line.
No-fault benefits cover specific economic damages. Only if a motorcyclist suffers serious impairment of bodily function, permanent serious disfigurement, or death, can he or she (or his or her family) bring a lawsuit for noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering. Pursuing these damages can be tricky because the insurer responsible for paying no-fault benefits may also be defending against the claim for noneconomic damages. It is important to the advancement of your claim as an injured motorcyclist to retain an attorney who can represent you throughout this process.
If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident, contact that experienced attorneys at Neumann Law Group for a free consultation.