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Motorcycles are quite fun to ride. Very little can beat the thrill, adrenaline, and exhilaration that comes with feeling the breeze on your face as you ride through those Michigan roads. Unfortunately, no matter how careful drivers are, motorcycle accidents can happen. Whether you’re an avid motorcycle rider or have been involved in an accident, we’re here to give you the scoop on Michigan’s motorcycle helmet law and how motorcycle laws in Michigan can affect you.

Question 1: When Can a Motorcyclist Ride Without a Helmet?

As a biker, riding with a helmet is something you should always do. However, there can be some instances where you can decide you don’t want to wear one. Under Michigan’s motorcycle helmet law, doing this can either be considered legal or illegal. There are also different rules that apply for motorcycle operators vs. motorcycle passengers:

For Motorcycle Operators

As a motorcycle helmet operator, before you can legally ride without a helmet, you have to fulfill all of the following conditions:

  • Must be 21 years or older
  • Need to have had a motorcycle endorsement for at least two years OR you must have passed the motorcycle course under the Michigan Metro Vehicle Code.
  • Need to have first-party medical benefits in amounts not less than $20,000 per person and $20,000 per occurrence. If your passenger has the $20,000 per occurrence, than you are only required to have $20,000 per person.

For Motorcycle Passengers

If you are a motorcycle passenger, you need to fulfill all the following conditions before you can legally decide to ride on a motorcycle without a helmet:

  • Must be at least 21 years or older
  • The motorcycle operator you’re riding with needs to have first-party medical benefits with a minimum of $20,000 per person and per occurrence. If the motorcycle operator doesn’t fulfill these requirements, you can still decide to ride without a helmet if you have coverage of at least $20,000 per person.

Question 2: What Are First-Party Medical Benefits?

A first-party medical benefit is simply a personal injury payment made to the person who bought the insurance plan. These plans can be bought in increments of $5,000 or more.

You should note that these first-party medical benefits will only apply in cases where there isn’t an accident with another motor vehicle. What this means is that these payments only apply to accidents with other motorcycles, a roadside object, or another non-vehicle entity.

Question 3: What Happens in an Accident with a Motor Vehicle?

Sometimes, motor vehicles (cars and trucks) are the cause of motorcycle accidents. What compensation will you be entitled to when you do get into an accident with a motor vehicle?

Under Michigan’s motorcycle helmet law, you will be entitled to a no-fault personal protection insurance benefits, which covers the following:

  • Lifetime coverage to care for your injuries if the injuries are permanent.
  • Wage loss benefits for three years. These wage loss benefits will be calculated at 85% of your gross income but won’t be able to exceed a certain monthly cap.
  • It will also cover replacement benefit for three years. The sum for this should not exceed $20 and it is to only pay for necessary domestic services.

In order to qualify, the operator or registrant of the motorcycle needs to have traditional liability insurance coverage, also referred to as PLPD coverage.

Question 4: Will There Be Benefits If I Am Injured While Violating Michigan’s Motorcycle Helmet Law?

The simple answer is yes. There is no provision in Michigan’s motorcycle helmet law or any other motorcycle laws in Michigan that prevents you from claiming benefits if you decide to ride illegally without a helmet.

However, it isn’t redundant to state here again that the motorcycle owner will need to have a first person medical benefit or there won’t be any compensation. This applies even when another person rides your motorcycle.

Question 5: What Happens If I Don’t Wear a Helmet but the Other Driver Caused the Accident?

It is possible that another driver or motorcycle rider might be the cause of your accident. If that’s the case, you are entitled to sue the at-fault driver for compensation even if you are not wearing a helmet.

This compensation will cover things including:

  • Non-economic loss (pain and suffering, disability, loss of function, denial of social pleasure, etc.)
  • Excess economic loss damages (loss of income in excess of PIP benefit period, etc.)

Question 6: How Does Comparative Negligence Affect My Claim?

Even if you sue the other driver for the injuries you sustain from the accident, the amount of compensation you receive will depend on a doctrine called comparative negligence.

Comparative negligence means that the amount of compensation you receive will depend on your contribution to causing the accident. For example, if the jury determines that you are 50% liable for the accident, then you won’t be entitled to any compensation for your injuries. This is because 50% means that both parties are equally at fault in causing the accident.

There are two possible scenarios that can play out if you do get injured in an accident while not wearing a helmet:

  1. You decide not to wear a helmet and are in violation of Michigan’s motorcycle helmet law (the terms listed in question 1 aren’t met). The insurance company of the at-fault driver can then claim that this increases the degree of your contributory negligence, which can reduce the damages you’ll receive.
  2. You might legally be riding without a helmet and are in full compliance with the Michigan helmet law. The insurance company can still claim that it is unreasonable for you to ride without a helmet, adding to your contributory negligence. The logic behind this being that you would have sustained fewer injuries if you were wearing a helmet.

Wearing your motorcycle helmet, even when going for a short ride around the block, can truly be lifesaving.

Should You Get Help?

The Michigan motorcycle helmet law and Michigan motorcycle insurance laws in general have their fair share of complexities. Trying to navigate it on your own can be disastrous. If you have been injured while riding a motorcycle, your best bet is to get in touch with a Michigan motorcycle accident lawyer.

Even if you haven’t been injured but are looking for information regarding a loved one or simply have questions, a Michigan motorcycle accident lawyer will help to make sure you know the laws while helping you to navigate the legal system.

DISCLAIMER: This information is opinion-based and for informational purposes only. It does not constitute legal advice. You should consult with an attorney to determine what may be best for your individual needs. Your use of the information on or materials linked from the web is at your own risk.

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