If you are injured in a motorcycle accident, can you receive no-fault benefits to cover things like medical expenses, lost wages, and replacement services? The answer depends on whether there was a vehicle involved and if you have optional PIP motorcycle coverage.
It may seem strange, but according to the Michigan No-Fault Act, motorcycles are not considered motor vehicles. They don’t have enough wheels. The law says:
"'Motor vehicle' means a vehicle, including a trailer, that is operated or designed for operation on a public highway by power other than muscular power and has more than 2 wheels. Motor vehicle does not include any of the following:
(i) A motorcycle.
(ii) A moped.” MCL 500.3103(2)(i)
The fact that motorcycles are not motor vehicles affects a lot. It means that riders are not required to maintain personal injury protection (PIP) no-fault insurance (though liability insurance is still mandatory). If a rider chooses not to pay for optional PIP coverage, no-fault insurance providers aren’t required to pay benefits for motorcycle accidents unless another motor vehicle is involved.
If you lay your motorcycle down, lose control because of gravel, or suffer some other single motorcycle accident, it can cause thousands of dollars in medical expenses and related losses. If you have chosen to pay extra for PIP no-fault coverage, you can file a claim with your motorcycle insurance provider to receive no-fault benefits, but only up to the cap you have chosen.
Every motorcycle insurance provider in Michigan is required to offer PIP policies in $5,000.00 increments. Bikers can pick the level of coverage they want, all the way up to the same unlimited coverage they enjoy under their auto insurance. After a crash, you can receive those benefits by filing a claim with your motorcycle insurance provider. If they unreasonably deny your claim you can file a lawsuit to receive the benefits you deserve.
However, if your injuries go beyond your insurance limit, you will likely be left paying the difference yourself. Unlike auto insurance, motorcycle PIP claims are capped based on the policy you have chosen and the premiums you pay.
Motorcycles share the road with cars, trucks, and other vehicles that do count as motor vehicles under the Michigan No-Fault Act. When a motorcycle accident involves another vehicle, it can open up the possibility of receiving no-fault benefits even if you have chosen not to pay for PIP coverage on your bike.
To make sure you receive all the benefits you are entitled to, you need to know where to file your insurance claim. Which insurance company is responsible to pay for your injuries depends on their “priority” according to the law. Normally, after a motor vehicle accident you are required to turn to your own insurance first, before looking elsewhere. But when you are riding a motorcycle, the priority order is different:
If your motorcycle is hit by a car or truck, you should be sure to get the other driver’s insurance information, because you’ll be required to use his or her insurance coverage before the policies covering your own vehicles.
Some motorcyclists use their bike full-time because they don’t have another vehicle of their own. According to a recently published Michigan Court of Appeals decision, they may still have access to no-fault benefits if they are married to or live with someone with a policy.
In Hmeidan v State Farm Mut Auto Ins Co, Mr. Hmeidan was test-driving a motorcycle when a car turned out in front of him, causing him to rear-end the vehicle. The question for the court was which no-fault provider was responsible for his injuries: Progressive, which had a policy on the motorcycle, or State Farm, which insured Mr. Hmeidan’s mother, whom he lived with. The court allowed Hmeidan to apply the Michigan No-Fault Act’s rules regarding coverage of resident relatives in deciding which insurance company had a higher priority. This meant that even though he did not have a no-fault insurance policy of his own, he entitled to benefits based on the Michigan No-Fault Act.
The law around collecting no-fault benefits after a motorcycle accident is complicated. It depends on the policies you have chosen, the circumstances of the crash, and even who you live with. If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, you need the help of an experienced personal injury attorney to be sure you receive all the benefits you are entitled to.
At Sachs Waldman, our experienced personal injury attorneys know how to investigate coverage options to get your medical expenses covered after a crash. If you have been seriously injured in a motorcycle accident, contact our Detroit personal injury law office at 1-800-638-6722.