Understanding Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Michigan

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Understanding Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Michigan

Michigan has complex motorcycle helmet laws that allow some experienced motorcyclists to ride without a helmet while young and inexperienced drivers must wear one. What happens if you are in a crash? Will not wearing a helmet have implications on your insurance claim or lawsuit? We answer these questions for you.

If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a crash, a Michigan motorcycle accident lawyer can help you understand your rights and options regardless of whether you met the helmet requirement laws.

Understanding Michigan’s Current Helmet Law and How We Got Here

As of 2024, the state’s current motorcycle helmet law is Michigan Compiled Laws § 257.658. This statute:

  • Requires all riders under age 21 to wear a helmet at all times
  • Allows riders over age 21 to ride without a helmet under certain conditions

To ride without a helmet, motorcyclists must meet all the following criteria:

  • Be age 21 or older
  • Have at least $20,000 in first-party medical insurance (sometimes called MedPay)
  • Have held a motorcycle endorsement for at least two years, or have completed an approved motorcycle safety class

All motorcycle passengers must also meet the age requirement and have the required medical insurance coverage to ride without a helmet.

Michigan Helmet Law History

According to the Highway Data Loss Institute (HDLI), Michigan repealed its first universal helmet law in 1968. However, the state reinstated it just a year later. It remained in place, and all motorcyclists had to wear a helmet until April 12, 2012.

On that date, the current law went into place. Michigan was no longer a universal helmet state. Instead, only young, inexperienced riders had to wear a helmet.

Following this change, the HDLI began tracking increases in motorcycle-related MedPay claims and compared them to those of nearby states with universal helmet laws. The 2017 analysis of the injuries that occurred in 2016 found:

  • A 64 percent increase in MedPay overall losses in motorcycle accidents
  • An increase in claim severity, up by 68 percent more than expected

This confirms the importance of wearing a helmet. Accidents without helmets are more likely to cause injuries, and those injuries are more likely to be severe. According to statistics published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), helmet use reduces fatal injuries by between 22 and 42 percent and traumatic brain injuries by up to 69 percent.

Will Wearing a Helmet Affect My Michigan Insurance Claim After a Crash?

Knowing how to protect your rights and navigate the insurance claims process after a motorcycle accident is complex. Under Michigan’s No-Fault insurance laws, motorcyclists do not carry this type of coverage. However, there are numerous ways they might be able to recover money for their damages. This includes:

  • The Personal Injury Protection (PIP) policy of the driver who hit them
  • Their own first-party medical benefits
  • Suing the at-fault driver
  • PIP benefits through the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan (MACP)

Sorting out your rights and options and developing a legal strategy to maximize compensation for your expenses and losses is easier with a motorcycle accident attorney on your side.

In most cases, wearing or not wearing a helmet should not affect your insurance claim. However, this does not mean you will not face questions, the threat of a reduced payout, or other tactics to reduce or deny your claim.

What Happens in a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit?

Michigan follows a modified comparative negligence law under Michigan Compiled Laws § 2959. Under this law, a victim’s compensation can go down based on the percentage of fault the court finds they shared in causing their crash or injuries.

Under this law, an at-fault driver could try to shift some or all of the blame for your injuries onto you. In this way, your decision not to wear a helmet could affect the outcome of your case.

However, having an attorney who handles these cases regularly and is familiar with Michigan law could prevent you from being held accountable for your injuries. It is difficult or impossible for the defense to show if your injuries would have occurred or how severe they may have been if you were wearing a helmet.

What Can I Recover Based on My Accident and Injuries?

The damages and compensation available to you following a collision depend greatly on the case facts, how you pursue damages, and the severity of your injuries. Your medical benefits can cover the cost of your medical care up to policy limits if you opted in for this coverage. A No-Fault claim against the at-fault driver’s policy might pay for a portion of your lost wages.

In a fault-based claim or lawsuit, the recoverable damages generally include both economic and non-economic damages. Examples include:

  • Medical expenses
  • Future medical care and support needs
  • Lost income and reduced earning ability in the future
  • Repair or replacement of your motorcycle
  • Pain and suffering damages

The Importance of Legal Representation in a Michigan Motorcycle Accident

A Michigan personal injury lawyer is a key member of your team if you suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident. This is even more important if you were not wearing a helmet at the time, regardless of whether this violated the state’s helmet laws. Your attorney will provide legal advice, rights protection, and representation throughout this process.

Motorcycle accident insurance claims are complicated in Michigan. It can be difficult to determine which company to file a claim with, much less handle the process. An attorney will navigate the complexities of insurance claims and a lawsuit if that becomes necessary.

Having a lawyer on your side ensures:

  • You conduct a timely investigation to preserve time-sensitive evidence
  • You do not fall for insurance company tactics or tricks
  • You understand the potential value of your case
  • You know your options and seek maximum compensation
  • You have someone managing your case while you focus on healing

What Should I Do After a Motorcycle Accident?

Immediately after the crash, make getting medical care and beginning treatment your focus. However, ensure you preserve evidence when possible. This includes your bike, helmet, and any other safety equipment, dashcam video, pictures from the scene, medical bills, and other documents.

Once your injuries are stable and you can think clearly, it’s time to make the call. Contact an attorney familiar with motorcycle accident cases in Michigan and discuss your options with their team. Once you hire them, they will take care of the rest.

So, Should I Wear a Helmet When I Ride in Michigan?

Wearing a motorcycle helmet is beneficial for your well-being as well as your legal standing after a crash. However, we understand that not everyone likes riding with a helmet.

When traffic is heavy, the road conditions aren’t ideal, or you will be traveling on high-speed roadways, your chances of a crash increase. Wearing a helmet could prevent catastrophic or fatal injuries.

Talk to Our Michigan Motorcycle Accident Injury Team About Your Case

If you were hurt in a Michigan motorcycle accident without a helmet, Christensen Law is here to help. We will review your case and explain your options for seeking fair compensation. Call our office to speak with our team today. We offer free consultations.