The Great Lakes State is renowned for its picturesque beauty. For many riders, there’s no better way to enjoy Michigan’s 3,288 miles of shoreline than on a motorcycle. However, this idyllic experience is often marred by the unfortunate reality of frequent motorcycle accidents. Understanding the scope of the issue and knowing what to do in the event of a Michigan Motorcycle accident can help save lives and ensure safer roads for everyone.


The Alarming Statistics


According to data from the Michigan State Police, motorcycle crashes were 3,158 in 2022. Even more concerning is the fact that motorcyclist fatalities numbered 173 in the same year. Wearing a helmet significantly reduces the risk of fatality in motorcycle crashes. More than half of those killed in motorcycle accidents, specifically 91 of the 173 fatalities, were not wearing a helmet last year. With 3,267 motorcycles involved in crashes in Michigan in 2022, these statistics highlight a crucial area for safety improvement.


Michigan Motorcycle Laws


Why Knowing the Law Matters


Michigan Motorcycle laws are in place to prevent accidents and promote safety. Adhering to these laws is essential for your safety and crucial if you ever need to file a claim or lawsuit following an accident.

Key Motorcycle Laws in Michigan


  1. Helmet Laws: Michigan requires all riders under 21 to wear a helmet. Riders over 21 can choose not to wear a helmet if they carry additional insurance coverage and have either passed a motorcycle safety course or been riding for at least two years.
  2. Insurance Requirements: All motorcyclists must carry liability insurance. This insurance must cover at least $20,000 for bodily injury per person, $40,000 per accident, and $10,000 for property damage. This requirement is separate and apart from a traditional auto policy.
  3. Licensing: You must have a valid motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license to ride legally in Michigan.
  4. Equipment Standards: Motorcycles must meet specific equipment standards, including having working headlights, taillights, and brakes.

Protect Yourself and Your Rights


Following these laws helps protect you in the event of an accident. For example, not wearing a helmet can affect your compensation claim if it’s determined that your injuries were exacerbated by not wearing one. Understanding and following the law provides a layer of protection that can be incredibly valuable if an accident occurs.

Operating Requirements


Riding a motorcycle offers unparalleled freedom and adventure but comes with responsibilities. If you’re planning to ride in Michigan, you must meet specific legal requirements to ensure your safety and the safety of others on the road.


Licensing and Endorsements


You need a valid Michigan driver’s license with the CY motorcycle endorsement to ride a motorcycle legally in Michigan. This endorsement involves passing several tests to prove your vision, knowledge, and road skills.

Another requirement for those under 18 is completing a motorcycle safety course through the Secretary of State’s office. This course is crucial for young riders, providing essential skills and knowledge for safe riding.

Riders as young as 16 can get a Temporary Instruction Permit (TIP) to learn how to operate a motorcycle. This permit allows you to ride under the visual supervision of an adult licensed motorcycle operator during daylight hours. The TIP lasts 180 days and is renewable, giving young riders ample time to practice and gain experience.

Additionally, all riders must have liability insurance to cover any damages if they cause an accident injuring someone else. This ensures that both parties are protected financially in the event of an incident.


Michigan Helmet Law


Michigan motorcycle laws allow certain individuals to choose whether to wear a helmet, but specific conditions apply:

For Motorcycle Operators:


You can opt out of wearing a helmet if you:

  • Are at least 21 years old
  • Have $20,000 in first-party medical benefits
  • Have you had your motorcycle endorsement for at least 2 years or passed an approved motorcycle safety course?

For Passengers:


As a passenger, you can choose not to wear a helmet if you:

  • Are at least 21 years old
  • Have $20,000 in first-party medical benefits in addition to the insurance of the motorcycle operator

Anyone under 21 is required to wear a U.S. Department of Transportation-approved motorcycle helmet. Although helmets are not mandatory for everyone in Michigan, they are one of the best defenses against catastrophic injury in motorcycle accidents. At Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault, we strongly encourage all Michigan bikers to ride helmeted for safety.

Required Equipment


To ride legally in Michigan, motorcyclists must use certain equipment to ensure their safety and compliance with the law. When traveling more than 35 miles per hour, you must use shatterproof goggles, a face shield, or a windshield. This equipment protects your eyes and faces from debris and adverse weather conditions.

Motorcycles must also be equipped with:

  • Front and rear brakes
  • A horn
  • Working headlights, taillights, and stoplights
  • A muffler
  • A rearview mirror
  • A permanent seat

These requirements ensure that your motorcycle is safe and functional, reducing the risk of accidents caused by equipment failure.

Lane Use


Motorcyclists in Michigan are entitled to a full lane in traffic, allowing them to ride safely without being squeezed between other vehicles. Additionally, they can ride two abreast (side-by-side) in a single lane. However, lane splitting, or riding between lanes of traffic, is illegal in Michigan. This practice is dangerous and can lead to severe accidents.


Protecting Yourself on the Road


Motorcyclists should take proactive measures to minimize the risk of accidents and injuries. Here are some essential safety tips:


  1. Wear Protective Gear: Always wear a helmet and other protective clothing. Helmets significantly reduce the risk of fatality and severe injury.
  2. Stay Visible: Use headlights, even during the day, and wear bright or reflective clothing to make yourself more visible to other drivers.
  3. Follow Traffic Laws: Adhere strictly to speed limits and avoid maneuvering between lanes.
  4. Stay Alert: Monitor other drivers’ actions closely and be prepared to react swiftly to avoid potential hazards.
  5. Ride Defensively: Assume other drivers may not see you and position yourself accordingly.

Negligence as a Leading Cause of Motorcycle Accidents


Negligent behavior by other drivers commonly causes motorcycle accidents. Examples include:


  • Failure to Check Blind Spots: Motorcycles are smaller and can be easily overlooked, leading to dangerous lane changes.
  • Opening Car Doors Without Clearance: This can lead to sudden, unavoidable collisions for motorcyclists.
  • Drug and Alcohol Usage: Impaired drivers pose a significant risk to all road users, including motorcyclists.
  • Failure to Yield: Ignoring motorcycles while turning left or changing lanes is a frequent cause of accidents.
  • Sudden Stops: Inattentive driving can result in abrupt stops, particularly hazardous for motorcyclists.
  • Distracted and Tired Driving: These behaviors increase the likelihood of accidents as drivers are not fully focused on the road.
  • Speeding and Other Traffic Violations: Noncompliance with traffic laws can lead to severe, often fatal, accidents.

What to Do If You’re Involved in a Motorcycle Accident


If you find yourself involved in a motorcycle accident, follow these steps to protect yourself and your rights:

  1. Seek Medical Attention: Your health is the top priority. Even if you feel fine, some injuries may not be immediately apparent.
  2. Report the Accident: Contact local authorities to report the accident and ensure an official report is filed.
  3. Gather Evidence: Take photographs of the accident scene, your injuries, and any damage to your motorcycle. Collect contact information from witnesses.
  4. Avoid Admitting Fault: Speak with a lawyer before providing statements to insurance companies or other parties involved.
  5. Consult a Legal Expert: Reach out to a skilled motorcycle accident attorney to discuss your case and explore your options for compensation.

Statute of Limitations


Michigan’s motorcycle accident statute of limitations imposes strict deadlines for filing lawsuits and claims. Injured motorcyclists have up to three years from the date of the accident to file lawsuits for pain and suffering compensation. However, motorcyclists only have one year to file a claim for No-Fault benefits when the accident involves cars or trucks. It’s always best to consult a licensed attorney to determine the applicable statute of limitations.

Michigan’s No-Fault Laws


In Michigan, motorcycles are not considered motor vehicles under the no-fault insurance system. This exclusion means bikers cannot obtain no-fault benefits after an accident unless the collision involves another motor vehicle. In such cases, you may access Michigan no-fault benefits through the insurance policy of the involved car or truck. If that vehicle lacks insurance, you might still receive no-fault coverage through your own Michigan automobile policy if you have one.

If none of these situations apply, you will be left with the optional medical coverage you’ve purchased. It’s essential to understand that anyone operating a motor vehicle in Michigan must purchase a no-fault insurance policy. This policy includes three mandatory coverages:

  1. Personal Injury Protection (PIP): Covers unlimited medical and rehabilitation expenses for the insured person, their family members, and any other individuals injured in an accident involving the insured vehicle.
  2. Property Protection (PPI): Covers damage to other people’s property caused by your vehicle.
  3. Bodily Injury and Property Damage Liability (BI/PD): Covers your liability for injuries or damages caused to others in an accident.

Motorcycle Insurance Requirements


Motorcyclists in Michigan must carry minimal liability coverage, which protects against liability for property damage, bodily injury, or death suffered by another person due to the motorcycle’s use. This coverage is mandatory but doesn’t provide the comprehensive protections offered by the no-fault insurance available for cars and trucks.


Optional Medical Benefits Coverage


To bridge the gap, insurers offer optional medical benefits coverage for motorcyclists. This coverage provides benefits if a motorcyclist is injured in an accident when no other insurance coverage is available. Here’s a breakdown:


  • Increments of Coverage: Motorcyclists can purchase medical benefits coverage in increments of $5,000.
  • Benefit Limit: The amount of coverage purchased is the maximum limit of medical benefits provided in the event of an accident.
  • Optional Nature: Since this coverage is optional, motorcyclists must assess their risk and consider purchasing adequate coverage.


Comparative Negligence in Michigan


Understanding Comparative Negligence


Many motorcyclists hesitate to file a lawsuit because they worry their behavior might disqualify them from receiving compensation. A single factor rarely causes accidents; Michigan’s comparative negligence rules acknowledge this. Even if a motorcyclist was speeding, not wearing a helmet, or engaging in other slightly negligent behaviors, they might still be eligible for compensation.


How Comparative Negligence Works


Michigan law allows for the recovery of damages as long as the other driver was more negligent than the injured motorcyclist. In other words, if the other party’s negligence exceeds your own, you may still have a valid claim. Consulting with a motorcycle accident lawyer can help you understand your situation better and explore all your legal options.


Michigan Motorcycle Wrongful Death Cases


When a motorcyclist dies because of an accident involving a motor vehicle, both the Michigan No-Fault Act and the Michigan Wrongful Death Act come into play.


What is a Wrongful Death?


A wrongful death occurs when a person dies due to the negligence or wrongful act of another individual. In Michigan, the Motorcycle Wrongful Death Act allows the deceased’s estate to pursue a claim against those responsible for the accident. This can include the other vehicle’s driver, manufacturers of faulty motorcycle parts, or even government entities responsible for road maintenance.

The Michigan No-Fault Act



The Michigan No-Fault Act provides medical benefits, wage loss benefits, and replacement services to individuals injured in motor vehicle accidents, regardless of who is at fault. When a motorcyclist dies due to an accident, their estate may be entitled to benefits under this act. The No-Fault Act ensures that immediate financial needs, such as medical bills and funeral expenses, are covered without the need to prove fault.

Key Features of the Michigan No-Fault Act:


  • Medical Benefits: Covers all reasonably necessary medical expenses related to the accident.
  • Wage Loss Benefits: Provides compensation for lost wages if the deceased was employed during the accident.
  • Replacement Services: Reimburses costs for services the deceased would have performed for the household.

The Michigan Wrongful Death Act


The Michigan Wrongful Death Act enables the family of the deceased to file a lawsuit seeking compensation for their loss. This is separate from the benefits provided by the No-Fault Act and aims to address non-economic damages such as pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and emotional distress.


Steps Involved in a Wrongful Death Case:


  1. Opening an Estate: The first step is to open an estate for the deceased. This legal entity will handle the wrongful death claim and distribute any awarded compensation.
  2. Appointing a Personal Representative: The court will appoint a Personal Representative (PR) to manage the estate. This individual is typically a close family member or a trusted individual chosen by the family.
  3. Filing the Lawsuit: The PR, on behalf of the estate, will file a wrongful death lawsuit against the responsible parties.
  4. Proving Negligence: To succeed in a wrongful death claim, it must be proven that the defendant’s negligence directly caused the motorcyclist’s death.
  5. Negotiating a Settlement or Going to Trial: Many wrongful death cases are settled out of court. However, the case may go to trial if a fair settlement cannot be reached.

Types of Compensation Available:


  • Economic Damages: Include medical expenses, lost wages, and funeral costs.
  • Non-Economic Damages: Cover pain and suffering, loss of companionship, and emotional distress.
  • Punitive Damages: In some cases, the court may award punitive damages to punish particularly reckless behavior.

Challenges in Motorcycle Wrongful Death Cases


Pursuing a wrongful death claim can be complex and emotionally draining. Here are some challenges that families may face:

  1. Proving Fault: Establishing negligence can be challenging, especially with no clear witnesses or evidence.
  2. Insurance Companies: Insurance companies may attempt to minimize their payouts, complicating the claim process.
  3. Statute of Limitations: In Michigan, wrongful death claims must be filed within three years of the death. Missing this window can result in losing the right to pursue compensation.

Legal Assistance for Motorcycle Accident Victims


Motorcycle accidents in Michigan present serious challenges, but understanding the risks and where to turn for help can make a significant difference. Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault are dedicated to providing expert legal assistance to motorcycle accident victims, ensuring you receive the support and compensation you deserve. We offer free consultations at Gallon, Takacs & Boissoneault to help you navigate these complex laws. Our experienced team of motorcycle accident lawyers will assess your case, provide expert advice, and help you understand the best course of action—all at zero risk to you.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a motorcycle accident, don’t hesitate to reach out to our office in Monroe. Our team is here to help you navigate the legal process and secure the best possible outcome for your case. Contact us today to schedule a consultation and take the first step toward recovery.

Call Your Monroe Motorcycle Crash lawyers at 419-843-6663 to get started, or use our easy online contact form today.