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What should a motorcyclist do after being involved in an accident?
The most important decisions motorcyclists can make after a motorcycle accident in Michigan oftentimes happen well before an attorney is hired. While you should contact Michigan Biker Law for assistance right away, that may not always be possible. Before you have legal representation, it’s critical to know some of the steps you can take to protect yourself and your possible claims.
File a report with the police:
First, make sure you contact the nearest law enforcement agency to file a police report. In Michigan, this report is known as a UD-10 Traffic Crash Report. A police report is one of the most important pieces of a motorcycle accident case. This is your first opportunity to tell your version of what occurred. Even more importantly, it also requires the at-fault driver to give their account of what happened in the accident, before their insurance company and attorneys become involved. The police report will also include essential pieces of information which will be necessary to file claims for no-fault benefits and possible lawsuits in the future, such as the name, address, and insurance policy of the at-fault driver. With every new accident call we receive; this is one of the first things we examine to determine what happened in an accident.
Report all of your injuries and symptoms:
Report all of your injuries to the police, firefighters, EMT’s, and medical personnel at the emergency room. The more these injuries and symptoms are reported, the more likely they are to be recorded in your records. Make sure you do not focus just on your most significant injuries. Start at the top of your head and focus on each part of your body through the tips of your toes. Even the most insignificant seeming injury should be reported and treated. Too often we hear of motorcycle accident victims, who had various minor injuries on the date of the accident which were unreported, then turn into more major issues down the road. Adrenaline immediately following a motorcycle accident can often mask less severe injuries. As your adrenaline wears off, it is important that any previously ignored issues be brought to your doctors’ attention as soon as discovered.
Obtain medical treatment:
Taking care of your health and well-being should be one of the most important things you should focus on after being involved in a motorcycle accident in Michigan. The more time which passes without treatment, the amount of time it takes you to heal and the quality of your healing might suffer. In addition, your immediate treatment is establishing the origin and the severity of your injuries. As you continue through your treatment, it is important to immediately notify your doctors of any worsening of any conditions or any new conditions which might arise. It is extremely important to comply with the medical treatment prescribed by your doctors and to be evaluated be any specialists your doctors may refer you to. Failure to do so provides the auto insurance company with the ability to argue your injuries and pain are not as severe as you allege and/or related to your accident.
Do not speak to a representative of the insurance company:
Soon after your motorcycle accident, it is very likely you will be contacted by an adjuster or an attorney for the auto insurance company. They will be trying to ask you questions about how the accident happened, your injuries, and the damage your motorcycle incurred. It is very important you do not give a statement to any such individuals without having first spoken to your attorney. Due to how accidents are reported to insurance companies, in almost every situation, the auto insurance company’s attorneys are aware of the accident, attempting to minimize your claim, and building a defense of their insured client well before you have an attorney.
Do not sign any documents before speaking to your attorney:
Encouraging motorcyclists to sign various documents or checks without having their attorney review them first is a common tactic employed by auto insurance companies. Unfortunately, this trend has been increasing in recent years. In effect, without an attorney’s review of these documents, an injured person, entitled to significant benefits under Michigan’s No-Fault law, could be signing away their future claims or settling for far less than what their claim is worth.
Obtain a copy of the police report from the accident: Contact the police department which investigated or arrived at the scene of the accident. In most situations, you will need to know the date of the accident and the incident number. Oftentimes, there is a small fee required to obtain this report.
Having a copy of the police report is important for a number of reasons. First, this report is typically required when attempting to submit a claim to the insurance company. Secondly, you will want to review the report to make certain all the information included on it is correct. It is not uncommon for the investigating officer to make mistakes, and sometimes critical mistakes, on reports. Being able to get these mistakes corrected or missing information added is much more likely the sooner it is requested. Lastly, if witnesses are listed, your attorney will want to speak to and to obtain statements from these individuals as close to the date of the accident as possible.
Keep record of everything related to your motorcycle accident: Keeping good records not only helps you keep track of everything related to your treatment, but it also allows you to provide this information to your attorney and to verify all of your no-fault benefits have been received. Keep track of your doctor’s appointments, the medications you are prescribed, dates of any tests and examinations, any service or item you were charged for, a diary of your pain/fatigue/limitations, the impact of your injuries on your daily life, take photographs of all your injuries in good lighting, and keep copies of any medical bills, records, and letters.
What are the Basics of Motorcycle Accident Insurance in Michigan
When Michigan’s No-Fault laws were put into place, the intention was to provide guaranteed, adequate, and quick payment for motor vehicle accidents. PIP benefits under this system are available for almost everyone connected to an accident, including passengers and pedestrians, regardless of fault or negligence. The State of Michigan requires that all owners and registrants have no-fault insurance on their motor vehicles.
In Michigan, the owner or registrant of a motor vehicle must maintain 3 kinds of motor vehicle insurance:
This type of insurance is for your accidental bodily injuries that are motor vehicle accident-related. Until a recent change, motorists only had one option – purchase lifetime allowable expense benefits. Since the July 2020 change, motorists will still be able to buy life coverage. However, they now will also be able to buy various coverage amounts of $500,000, $250,000, and even lesser amounts in some cases.
Property Protection Insurance
This insurance coverage is for damage you caused to another person’s property, and
$250,000 is now required in residual liability insurance. This insurance coverage is for pain, suffering, and economic losses in excess to that amount which is covered by no-fault insurance. Motorists are permitted to choose a lower limit, even down to $50,000.
Other auto insurance in Michigan is optional.
In Michigan, a person who operates a motor vehicle without the proper no-fault insurance is subject to both a criminal penalty and is disqualified from receiving any no-fault benefits whatsoever.
When an insured Michigan motorist is involved in a car accident, that person’s own car insurance personal injury protection (PIP) coverage pays for that person’s medical expenses and other “allowable expenses” that are “reasonably necessary products, services, and accommodations.” These benefits may include lost wages, attendant care, household services, medical mileage, prescription costs, rehabilitation, medical equipment, barrier free home modifications, case management, etc. These benefits are paid, regardless of who caused the accident. It is important to note that the limit of these benefits, as of July 2020, will depend on the benefit limit chosen by the injured insured.
In some situations, you obtain Michigan no-fault insurance for yourself, the policy will cover more than just you. Most policies will also cover your spouse, children, or any other resident relative. This means if your spouse and/or resident relatives were ever injured as passengers in a motor vehicle accident, coverage would likely be available for them through your policy if they have no insurance policy of their own.
Unfortunately, the laws coverage for Michigan motorcyclist can be much more confusing. This is the reason most personal injury attorneys who handle mostly automobile accident cases are ill-prepared and unfamiliar when handling claims for motorcyclists. Due to the fact the No-Fault laws do not consider motorcycles as “motor vehicles,” motorcycle owners are not required to purchase no-fault insurance. However, they are required to purchase liability insurance, which is commonly referred to as PLPD coverage.
PLPD insurance provides coverage if the motorcyclist is found to be at fault for an accident and causes bodily injury, death, or property damage. A motorcyclist who fails to purchase PLPD coverage can face serious penalties, which could arise to fines and imprisonment. Most importantly, by not purchasing motorcycle liability coverage, a motorcyclist will be disqualified from obtaining no-fault PIP benefits that would have typically been available to them under Michigan’s No-Fault law.
An injured motorcyclist who carries PLPD coverage is entitled to No-Fault insurance benefits if the injury was caused by the operation or use of a motor vehicle. That means that involved in the injury/accident has to be an automobile.
First-party and third-party accident claims are the two types of motorcycle accident claims which can be made in a collision involving a motor vehicle.
First-Party Motorcycle Accident Claim
This claim is filed on the motorcyclist’s own insurance company for no-fault or personal injury protection benefits. These benefits include medical expense coverage, lost wages for up to 3 years, replacement services, and attendant care. This type of claim must be filed within one year of the date of the injury.
Third-Party Motorcycle Accident Claim
This claim is filed against an at-fault driver, if the injured rider sustains a threshold level injury. Damages available in a third-party claim can include pain, suffering, and excess economic loss damages for lost wages beyond the 3-year no-fault limit. To be successful in such a claim, the injured motorcyclist must be able to demonstrate that he was not more than 50 percent at fault for the accident.
Am I required, by law, to wear a helmet in Michigan?
Beginning in 2012, the law requiring all motorcyclists in Michigan to wear a helmet was repealed. Since then, the decision to ride without a helmet is up to the motorcyclist if the following conditions are met:
- The motorcyclist must be at least 21 years old.
- The motorcyclist must have held a motorcycle endorsement on his or her driver’s license of chauffeur’s license for at least 2 years or passed an approved motorcycle safety course.
- The motorcyclist must have at least $20,000 in motorcycle medical-benefit insurance.
Passengers on motorcycles may also choose not to wear a helmet. However, to do so, they must be at least 21 years old and have at least $20,000 in first-party medical benefits insurance, in addition to the required coverage for the motorcycle operator.
Which insurance company pays no-fault benefits to an injured motorcyclist?
The No-Fault law instructs that the injured motorcyclist must look to various insurers in a specific order of priority. Benefits may not be collected from one insurer unless all of the previous options have been explored and exhausted. The order of priority for Michigan motorcyclists is:
- the insurer of the owner or registrant of the motor vehicle involved in the accident.
- the insurer of the operator of the motor vehicle, if that operator is someone other than the owner or registrant;
- the no-fault insurer of the injured motorcyclist, if that individual is insured under a no-fault policy on another vehicle;
- the no-fault insurer of the owner or registrant of the motorcycle, if such a policy exists.
If no coverage is available at any of the levels above, such as instances of, an injured motorcyclist may claim benefits through the Michigan Assigned Claim Facility (MACP). The injured person will have his or her claim assigned to a Michigan licensed and registered insurer which will have the obligation to pay benefits pursuant to the Michigan No-Fault Law.
Which insurance company pays benefits for injured motorcycle passengers?
A passenger on a motorcycle can seek the same coverage as the operator of the motorcycle, with the same priority system. However, in addition to those various levels of priority available to the operator of the motorcycle, there is one additional layer of coverage for passengers. A motorcycle passenger, with no coverage through any of the motorcycle operator’s order of priority, will then turn to his or her own insurer to seek coverage, before looking to the Assigned Claims Facility.
What are the common causes of motorcycle accidents?
Today, when you drive down the road, it sometimes feels like every other driver is glancing down or using a cell phone. Riding a motorcycle has always come with an increased risk compared to that of driving an automobile. We have a smaller profile. We only have one headlight. It is more difficult for an automobile driver to judge our speed. It’s not uncommon to see a driver look right at and through a motorcyclist, and then later to hear them state that they looked, but never saw the motorcyclist.
Now, with the increasing amount of cell phone usage while driving, the danger to motorcyclists on the road is at an all-time high. Over the years, we have represented motorcycle accident victims, whose accidents were caused by a number of factors. Most frequently, motorcycle accidents involving an automobile are frequently caused by driver errors, which include:
Improper turning/Failing to yield
Distracted driving/Reckless driving
Unsafe lane changes
Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
All motorists in Michigan have a duty to operate their vehicles safely and avoid causing injuries to others. Our experienced motorcycle accident attorneys believe that negligent motorists must be and will be held accountable.
What are the common injuries to motorcyclists in motorcycle accidents?
Unfortunately, we often find injured motorcyclists with much more severe injuries than those injured in automobile accidents. Although motorcyclists can and should wear protective gear, such as helmets, leather or synthetic armored jackets, gloves, and boots, serious injury can very easily occur. Due to the nature of motorcycles, there is very little protection surrounding the rider and nothing which keeps the rider attached to his motorcycle during an accident. The most common motorcycle accident injuries we see in the clients we represent are:
- Road rash and abrasions
- Head and neck injuries
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Spinal cord injuries
- Fractured bones
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Wrongful death
Some motorcycle accident victims may require extensive, ongoing medical and rehabilitative care, which can be a significant physical, emotional and financial burden.