Michigan insurance regulations and deceiving insurance companies can make recovering financial compensation for injuries related to a motorcycle crash extremely complicated and difficult.  With the system against you, it is crucial that an injured rider or loved one acting in their behalf retain a lawyer who has experience and a track record of success in motorcycle cases.

The injury attorneys at The Clark Law Office have a long history of handling motorcycle lawsuit claims against insurance companies.  While each case is different and damages will vary greatly, our attorneys are fully committed to helping motorcyclists recover compensation including medical bills and property damage.

Do I Need to Hire a Motorcycle Accident Attorney?

The simple answer to this question is yes.  Motorcycle accident cases are even more difficult to win than other vehicle accident cases.  Insurance issues and complications arise frequently due to the nature of Michigan No-Fault Law and additional safety and helmet laws.

Most motorcycle accidents are caused by the negligence of other motorists and not the biker.  Motorcyclists tend to be extra careful while driving.  The problem is the lack of independent witnesses and the police officers who arrive at scene tend to believe the version of the story given by the other vehicle driver.  The result of this is that the officer places blame or liability on the biker who is often too injured to tell his or her account or side of the story.

Our experienced attorneys will do everything in our power to prove that the other drivers were indeed responsible for causing the accident and to uncover the truth about the events that unfolded moments before the crash.  We will do the following:

  • Collect all relevant police reports, investigative documents, and statement given by any witnesses
  • Request and obtain videos of the accident from the police vehicle along with surveillance if applicable
  • Obtain and subpoena any red-light video cameras
  • Find and collect dash-cam videos from other nearby vehicles
  • Interview all eyewitnesses
  • Photograph and document the scene of the crash included damages to all vehicles to determine how and why it occurred
  • Use our trusted motorcyclist accident reconstruction expert to analyze the crash
  • Create models and graphics to help demonstrate how the crash happened to present to the judge/jury
  • Collect all your medical records to show how serious the injuries you sustained are

What Should I Do Following an Accident?

If you are involved in a motorcycle accident, you will probably be in shock and feel overwhelmed in the moment.  In addition to being physically hurt, you might be mad, upset, and have a hard time thinking clearly about what you should do next.  If you are lucky enough to walk away from a motorcycle crash, there are a few especially important steps to take.  If you are severely hurt and cannot complete these steps, a loved one or friend can help you.  These steps include:

  • Get examined by a medical doctor for injuries
  • Collect and obtain contact information from everyone involved and all the witnesses
  • Take as many pictures and videos as you possibly can
  • Obtain the police report
  • File an insurance claim
  • Keep a detailed record of medical bills, receipts, and pay stubs
  • Start a journal describing how you feel and the symptoms you are experiencing
  • Don’t speak to anyone about your insurance claim
  • Stay away from and don’t post information on social media
  • Never accept an early offer from an insurance company
  • Contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney

Michigan Motorcycle Accident Statistics

In 2019, there were 3,083 total motorcycle accidents in the state of Michigan, which is slightly up from the total in 2018 which was 2,728 total crashes.  Out of the total # of crashes, there were 122 fatalities which is down from 192 in 2018.  Even though there were more crashes, the # of fatalities were substantially lower which a trend we hope continues.  All the data for 2019 is not yet available and will be published shortly.  In 2018, 44.6% of motorcycle accidents involved the use of drugs or alcohol.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has made strong argument that high visibility of motorcycles reduces the # of crashes.  They recommend using a light-colored helmet along with eye protection.  Riders should also wear high visibility clothing including leather protection, long sleeves, pants, over-the-ankle boots, and gloves.

  • Total Crashes
  • Total Injuries
  • Total Property Damage

In 2019, they collected date on the injury severity of helmeted motorcyclists vs. the injury severity of un-helmeted motorcyclists.  The following data is for riders wearing helmets.  There were 354 possible injuries, 617 suspected minor injuries, 366 suspected serious injuries, and 56 deaths.  For un-helmeted riders, there were 141 possible injuries, 309 suspected minor injuries, 291 suspected serious injuries, and 54 deaths.  It is important to note that the deaths were very similar even though the number of drivers wearing a helmet outweighs those without significantly.  The exact percentage is unknown, but a 2017 study conducted by Michigan State University found that statewide helmet use was at 71.4%.

What Causes Most Motorcycle Crashes?

Very few motorcycle accidents are caused by the biker.  It is usually the negligence and actions of the other driver which causes a crash.  Typically, the biker did absolutely nothing wrong and was the victim of circumstance.  The most reported causes of motorcycle accidents in Michigan include the following:

  • Failing to travel at a safe speed
  • Improper changing of lanes
  • Swerving right in front of your motorcycle
  • Cutting off a motorcycle at an intersection
  • Failure to yield
  • Failure to travel at a safe distance between vehicles
  • Failure to see a motorcyclist when changing lanes
  • Other drivers driving under the influence (drugs and alcohol)
  • Distracted driving or simply not paying attention to the road
  • Sudden stopping
  • Dangerous road conditions
  • Motor vehicle defects

Frequent Biker Actions Right Before an Accident

The State of Michigan and the Michigan State Police provide excellent crash data that proves that most motorcycle accidents happen due to the negligence of others.  The most telling data is that to which they refer to as “hazardous actions.”  They provide a list of actions right before a motorcycle accident along with the total # of crashes, fatalities, injuries, and property damage.  This list of hazardous actions includes:

  • None
  • Speed Too Fast
  • Speed Too Slow
  • Failed to Yield
  • Disregard Traffic Control
  • Drove Wrong Way
  • Drove Left of Center
  • Improper Passing
  • Improper Lane Use
  • Improper Turn
  • Improper / No Signal
  • Improper Backing
  • Unable to Stop
  • Other
  • Unknown
  • Reckless Driving
  • Careless Driving
  • Not Reported

How Am I Going to Pay for My Damaged Bike?

Michigan No-Fault law has an exception that allows the owner of an automobile to collect up to $3,000 from the driver that was at fault for the accident.  This can be used to cover damages and pay for repairs caused from the crash.  Unfortunately, motorcyclists do not quality for this exception.  Motorcycles are not considered an automobile under Michigan Law and thus are not eligible to receive this form of compensation.

Even if the other driver is at fault 100% and causes the accident, they are not responsible for the damage done to your bike.  Instead, motorcyclists must rely on their own insurance company and must purchase collision coverage in order to be covered.  This collision coverage can be expensive, but it is the only way to recover compensation for your vehicle if you are involved in an accident with an automobile in Michigan.

This changes however if you are in an accident with another motorcycle.  In this case, the at-fault driver is responsible for the damages and repairs to your bike.  You will need to file a lawsuit against the other driver’s insurance company in order to collect and have your motorcycle repaired/fixed.

Common Injuries Resulting From Motorcycle Accidents

Unlike other motor vehicles, motorcycles offer extraordinarily little protection from other cars and the road.  Because of this, motorcycle accident injuries tend to be more serious and life-threatening.  Some of the common injuries resulting from a crash include:

  • Broken bones
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Traumatic brain injuries
  • Neck injuries such as whiplash
  • Permanent disfigurement
  • Knee Injuries
  • Road Rash
  • Paralysis
  • Psychological injuries
  • Loss of extremity
  • Death

Victims of a motorcycle accident typically suffer severe injuries and oftentimes require complicated surgery, extended hospital visits, and grueling rehabilitation.  Brain injuries are also more common and they require more intensive cognitive rehabilitation to restore functioning.  Because of the nature of these injures, many victims have a hard time returning to work or even simply engaging in activities they used to enjoy.

How Do I File a Lawsuit for My Injuries?

In order to file a lawsuit for your motorcycle accident, you will need a reliable and experienced attorney to file it on your behalf.  The main document and paperwork that must be filed is called a complaint.  It contains all the facts related to the case, the claims of negligence of the other driver(s), and the damages which you would like to pursue.  Michigan has strict requirements and court rules which must be met and if it does not your case can simply be thrown out and you will be unable to recover any sort of monetary compensation.

Some cases settle before a lawsuit is required, but this is not typical.  Most insurance companies will not offer a good settlement unless the injuries are severe, negligence are clear, and policy limits are low.  You will need to file a lawsuit if the insurance company refuses to pay a reasonable and fair amount or they completely deny liability for the accident.  Once the lawsuit has been filed, there will be a period of discovery including a deposition where both parties will be able to tell their version of events.  All relevant witnesses and police officers will also make statements during the deposition.

After the deposition and all the information is available, the case will be negotiated through mediation or among both attorneys.  Most cases settle at this point, but if no agreement can be made a trial will be required.

Is It Possible To Sue For My Pain and Suffering?

Any motorcyclist can sue for pain and suffering along with other non-economic damages including but not limited to psychological trauma, disability, scarring, and permanent disfigurement in the State of Michigan.  In order to file a lawsuit of this nature, the other driver must be at fault or negligent.  This lawsuit is referred to as 3rd party lawsuit and is separate from the lawsuit which will compensate first party benefits such as medical expenses.

There are no limits to the amount you can recover for pain and suffering in a motorcycle accident lawsuit.  The settlement is based on the severity of your injuries and the amount of insurance carried by the other driver.  If you have severe injuries and the other driver has a large insurance policy, you can collect a substantial amount of money.  If you have severe injuries and the other driver only has a small policy, this limits the amount you can recover.  Sometimes multiple insurance policies can be used depending on the situation of the accident and the vehicle(s) involved.

Who Is Going To Pay My Medical Expenses?  What About Wage Loss?

Michigan is a no-fault insurance state and your own insurance company is responsible for paying medical bills and lost wages for the first 3 years after the accident.  Unfortunately, the law with motorcycles is not the same as it is with “automobiles”.  Insurance companies know that injuries associated with motorcycle accidents are expensive to treat and they make it harder to collect no-fault benefits.  If you do quality for no-fault insurance benefits, all your hospital bills and other medical expenses will be paid.  There is usually a fight between your own insurance company and the other driver’s insurance company as to who is responsible for paying these costs.

The safest way to ensure your financial freedom and that your medical bills get paid is to purchase medical pay coverage as part of your motorcycle insurance.  This additional insurance is not required to drive, but it is highly recommended.

Are Motorcycles Covered Under No-Fault Insurance in Michigan?

It depends.  In order to qualify for no-fault benefits, you must have purchased the basic motorcycle liability insurance.  Another term for this is referred to as PLPD or Personal Liability and property damage insurance.

In addition to having insurance, the accident must also involve an automobile such as a car or truck to qualify.  Physical contact with another automobile is not always required.  Even if a car or truck forced you off the road or you were forced to roll your bike to avoid another vehicle entering your lane, this qualifies as involvement.

These no-fault benefits typically come from an insurance policy based in Michigan.  If you do quality for them, you will receive them regardless of who was at fault for the accident.  If there were passengers on the motorcycle, they always qualify for first party benefits.

How Does My Health Insurance Coordinate with Michigan No-Fault?

The coordination between a motorcyclist’s health insurance and no-fault insurance is a very complex issue.  Typically, the no-fault insurance provider of the automobile involved in the crash is responsible for paying the medical bills of the injured person regardless if the biker has health insurance or not.  If the injured biker does have a health insurance policy, that policy might be required to pay the medical benefits unless it has specific language in the policy stating otherwise.

There are rare cases where an injured motorcycle is eligible to collect 1st party benefits because the other driver in the accident was uninsured, the injured persons no fault policy might be able to be coordinated with health insurance coverage.  This would make the health insurance coverage the primary and the no-fault coverage would only pay for those benefits not covered by the health insurance.

As you can tell, the issue of coordination between health insurance and no-fault insurance is complicated and will require the expertise of an experienced motorcycle accident attorney to help you get the most compensation for your injuries.

Can I File A Lawsuit If a Family Member Was Killed?

If the motorcycle crash results in a fatality to either the driver or the passenger, the family members of the deceased can file a wrongful death claim in Michigan against the at-fault driver.  A wrongful death claim seeks compensation for the pain and suffering before the death, and the future loss of companionship.

This lawsuit is brought on by only one family member, but it is filed on behalf of the whole family.  The family member bringing the suit is appointed as the personal representative of the estate.

Below is a graph showing the total # of fatalities resulting from a motorcycle accident from 2010-2019

  • Total # of fatalities

I Was an Injured Passenger.  What Are My Rights?

Injured passengers in a motorcycle crash are also entitled to sue for compensation and recover for their injuries.  In fact, passengers have an easier time collecting because a passenger is always completely innocent and free of negligence.  The passenger will be suing the other negligent driver and many times they will be suing their friend or family member who they were riding with.  Proving negligence in these types of crashes can be difficult and it is always contested because of how important the outcome is.  For this reason, you need a reliable attorney who knows how to handle motorcycle accident negligence specifically.

Our attorneys and team of investigators will determine who caused the accident and we will sue whoever is responsible and their insurance company to give you the highest possible settlement for your case.

How Much Is My Case Worth?

There are many factors that determine the amount that your case is worth.  The main determining factors include the severity of your injures, how long you will be requiring medical treatment, the type of treatment you will need, how those injuries affect your ability to lead a normal life, the amount of fault you were responsible in causing the accident, and the amount of insurance available.

Because motorcycle injuries are typically serious, the main limiting factor is the amount of insurance available.  Our attorneys will take all of this into consideration and give you our honest opinion about the value of your case.  Each case is different and any attorney who claims that they can give you an average settlement is simply not being truthful.  Our attorneys have experience handling motorcycle accident claims from a few thousand all they way up to $2.75 million.  We will rigorously evaluate the specific conditions of your case, give you a proper evaluation, and work hard to give you the highest possible settlement.

What Happens If the Other Driver Carried No Insurance?

Michigan has some of the highest rates of automobile and motorcycle insurance in the country.  Even with the newly reformed no-fault law, insurance is still awfully expensive here.  Given this fact, many drivers choose not to carry the state required liability insurance.  If you hit by another driver with no insurance, you must rely on your own policy to compensate you.  Therefore, carrying uninsured motorists’ coverage is extremely important, especially for bikers.  Many policies have this built in without you knowing it, but it is recommended to purchase a larger policy.

Many drivers and vehicle owners will at least carry the minimum liability coverage.  Unfortunately, this limit is only 20,000 and is hardly ever enough to give the injured biker a fair settlement.  You can collect more than is only if you have collision coverage included in your policy.

The declaration pages of your auto or motorcycle insurance will state all the coverages that you have available to you.  We will review your policy and the policy of all the other drivers and vehicles involved in the accident to make sure that you receive all potential sources of coverage.

What Insurance Is Required for Motorcyclists in Michigan?

The only insurance policy that is required to ride a motorcycle in the State of Michigan is basic liability coverage for a 3rd party lawsuit.  The coverage must be equal or greater than the minimum liability set my Michigan No-Fault law.  If a biker over the age of 21 plans to ride without a helmet, he or she must also purchase at least $20,000 in 1st party medical coverage according to MCL 257.658(5).

If you always plan to wear a helmet, you are not required to purchase first party medical benefits coverage, but some bikers purchase it anyways.  It is important to note that this is not the same type of insurance as regular automobile PIP coverage though.

An owner of a motorcycle can also additionally purchases uninsured and under-insured motorist coverage.  These types of insurance provide an extremely valuable source of recovery when you are hit by another driver without any insurance or inadequate insurance to cover your expenses.  Without uninsured or under-insured coverage, you will have no way to collect for your injuries.  You may sue the at-fault driver for their personal assets, but this is rarely ever an adequate amount and it is exceedingly difficult to collect.  Our Michigan motorcycle accident lawyers always recommend that you contact your insurance company and check your policy to see if you have these types of additional coverage.  If you do not, you should strongly think about purchasing them.

How Much Time Do I Have to File a Lawsuit?

The amount of time that you must file a lawsuit after an accident is referred to at the statute of limitations.  In Michigan, the time limit to filing a 3rd party lawsuit which includes pain and suffering is three years from the actual date of the accident.  In this type of lawsuit, you will be suing the negligent driver which caused the crash and/or the owner of the vehicle that caused the crash.

To file a lawsuit for PIP benefits or no-fault benefits, you only have one year from the date of the accident if no benefits were paid or within 1 year of the date where a no fault benefit was not paid by your own insurance company.  In this type of lawsuit, you will be suing your own insurance company.

If you happen to miss these deadlines, your claims will not be recoverable, and you lose the chance to receive compensation forever.

What is the Definition of a Motorcycle Under State Laws?

Michigan no-fault law is hard enough to understand.  Unfortunately, the laws for motorcycle accidents in our state are quite different than those for other types of motor vehicles.  We get a lot of questions regarding what is considered a “motorcycle” according to Michigan Law.  Section 257.31 of the Michigan Vehicle Code defines a “motorcycle” as a motor vehicle that has a saddle or seat for the use of a rider and is designed to travel on not more than 3 wheels in contact with the ground but this excludes a tractor.

No Fee Guarantee For All Motorcycle Accident Cases

If you have been injured or lost a loved one from a motorcycle accident, you may be eligible for financial compensation.    Our experienced motorcycle accident attorneys will investigate your case and help you with all your accident insurance claims.  We can help you get the maximum possible settlement for your motorcycle injury case.  We charge no fees for all motorcycle lawsuits unless you win.  If we can’t get you a settlement or verdict, you owe us absolutely nothing.  Contact us today by calling (517) 347-6900 or fill out our confidential contact form to get your case started.

Motorcycle Accident Resources and References in Michigan