If they had been wearing their helmets, 26 fewer Michigan motorcyclists would have died in motorcycle accidents last year, according to figures reported by a researcher from the University of Michigan who was studying the effects of last year’s change to Michigan’s motorcycle helmet laws.
This statistic was reported at the Michigan Traffic Safety Summit last March by Carol Flannagan of the university’s Transportation Research Institute. Flannagan got her figure by comparing motorcycle crash statistics from April 13 to December 31, 2012, (the period in which the new helmet laws were in effect in 2012) to statistics from the same period in 2011. According to Flannagan, not wearing a helmet doubles a rider’s chance of dying should he or she be involved in a motorcycle accident.
There’s no doubt about it. Wearing a helmet significantly increases a motorcyclist’s chance of survival in an accident. Various studies also show that wearing a helmet tends to greatly reduce the overall severity of injuries in motorcycle accidents, which also means that the cost of injuries incurred by helmeted motorcyclists is likely to be significantly less than those of unhelmeted riders. Our experience as motorcycle injury attorneys has shown that it’s also easier to get insurance companies to pay for the costs and damages of motorcycle injuries when a rider is wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.
But if saving your skin and making sure injury costs get paid isn’t enough to get you to put your helmet on, put it on for the sake of your family.
As the statistics above indicate, choosing not to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle puts a person at significantly higher risk for dying in an accident. While the loss of life that occurs in such an incident is indeed tragic, oftentimes what happens to the motorcyclist’s family after his/her death is also quite tragic.
In most cases, when a family loses a member to wrongful death in a motorcycle accident, they also lose a source of income and get stuck with a pile of medical bills and other costs related to the accident. All this at a time when they are stricken with grief. However, compensation for these damages can be recovered from the driver at fault and his/her insurance company through a wrongful death lawsuit.
Seems simple, right? Well, it isn’t. This is mostly because insurance companies don’t like to pay out for wrongful death claims because they are very expensive. They use every trick in the book (and some that aren’t) to avoid paying injury and wrongful death claims in full. Michigan is a contributory negligence state, which means that if an injury victim contributes to the severity of their injuries the amount of recovery they are eligible for gets reduced by the percentage to which they contributed. If the victim’s contribution is 51% or more, they don’t qualify for any recovery of damages. Insurance companies’ favorite trick in motorcycle accidents is to cast blame for the severity of injuries on the motorcyclist and the fact that he/she wasn’t wearing a helmet. They claim that by choosing not to wear a helmet, the victim contributed to the severity of their injuries and damages would have been less if they had worn a helmet.
Unfortunately, jurors in Michigan have a track record of agreeing with insurance companies on this issue. This makes it difficult to recover all the damages that a family of a dead motorcyclist experiences and often leaves the family in a financial and emotional lurch. While it is not impossible to recover all the damages necessary in a case of wrongful death involving an unhelmeted rider, the lack of helmet certainly makes full recovery more difficult.
First and foremost, the motorcycle wrongful death attorneys at Sachs Waldman recommend that all motorcyclists wear a helmet when riding in order to reduce their chance of severe injury or death and, in the event they are fatally injured in an accident, to increase the likelihood that family members will receive the compensation they need in their time of loss. However, when families do face the loss of a member to a fatal motorcycle accident, they should be represented by a highly skilled and experienced attorney like those at Sachs Waldman. It requires considerable experience and skill to build a case that overcomes insurance companies’ tactics and recover the most damages possible. The motorcycle accident attorneys at Sachs Waldman have a lengthy track record for winning motorcycle wrongful death cases.
Michigan families don’t have to fight alone in motorcycle wrongful death cases
In Michigan, the personal injury attorneys at Sachs Waldman, P.C., have the experience, determination and skill necessary to help families of motorcyclists killed in accidents recover the damages they need -- regardless of whether the motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet. The last thing anyone needs when a loved one has died is to fight a lawsuit on their own. Don’t go it alone. Call our Detroit personal injury attorneys’ office at 1-800-638-6722 to schedule a free consultation.