Our top-rated Michigan motorcycle accident lawyers can help if you or someone you care about was injured while riding. We represent bikers and passengers in motorcycle injury cases.
We get motorcyclists the highest settlements against at-fault drivers and assist them with insurance claims for their no-fault insurance benefits.
Should I Hire a Lawyer After a Motorcycle Accident?
Our biker injury lawyers have the highest possible ratings in the legal profession for both skill and integrity. Bikers consider Buckfire Law the top motorcycle accident law firm in Michigan. We are members of ABATE and support a large number of other motorcycle clubs and organizations, including The Michigan Confederation of Bikers, Gold Wing Riders, and other riding groups.
Experienced motorcyclists trust Buckfire & Buckfire, P.C. to help them through their difficult times. The lawyer you choose is the difference between winning a great settlement or getting nothing. When you hire us as your attorneys, you will get the following:
- A team of lawyers who regularly wins the top accident settlements in Michigan.
- Paralegal case managers who handle your no-fault insurance claims for you.
- A law firm established in 1969 with a stellar reputation for integrity and hard work.
- We have offices throughout the state, including in Southfield, Detroit, Ann Arbor, Macomb County, and Kalamazoo. We can meet at any time at a location near you.
- The best possible legal representation under our No-Fee Promise. It costs no money to get started and we only earn our fee if you receive a settlement check.
What We Do for You After Your Accident
Motorcycle accidents are almost always caused by careless and negligent motorists and not the biker. Too often, however, there may be no independent witnesses, and police officers simply accept the vehicle driver’s version of the accident. This results with the police officer wrongfully placing the fault on the biker who, most times, is too injured to tell his or her side of the story.
Our legal team will do everything possible to prove the driver of the vehicle that hit you was negligent and caused the crash. To win your case, we will:
- Get all police accident reports, investigative reports, and witness statements.
- Subpoena videos of the accident from the police car.
- Subpoena any traffic light video cameras.
- Subpoena surveillance video from buildings in the area to see if they captured the accident.
- Locate dashcam video from other vehicles.
- Obtain the 911 call made after the accident.
- Interview all eyewitnesses with our own special investigators.
- Take measurements of the roadway and area of the accident, including skid marks.
- Have our traffic crash expert download the black box data from the car or truck.
- Photograph and measure the damage to all vehicles to determine speed and point of impact.
- Hire a motorcycle accident reconstruction expert witness to analyze the accident.
- Have a 3D animation created to demonstrate how the accident occurred to the judge and jury.
- Get your medical records to prove the seriousness of your injuries.
What are the Most Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents?
The fact is that very few motorcycle crashes are the fault of the biker. In most crashes, the biker is completely free of any negligence and did nothing to cause the accident. Typically, it is a negligent motorist that ignored the rights of motorcyclists on the streets and highways.
The most common reported causes of motorcycle accidents in Michigan include:
- Improper lane changes. Drivers cutting into the lane of the biker without checking a blind spot or signaling when changing lanes.
- Distracted driving. Drivers texting, using their cell phone, or simply not paying appropriate attention to other motorists.
- Drugs and alcohol. Bikers hit by drunk drivers and those under the influence of drugs.
- Speeding. Traveling at speeds in excess of the posted legal speed limit.
- Driving under the influence. Drunk drivers and motorists operating under the influence of narcotics and other illicit drugs.
- Intersection accidents. Drivers running red lights or making illegal turns at intersections.
- Sudden stops. Rear-end accidents resulting from following too closely or an abrupt stop can result in serious injury or death to a motorcyclist.
- Head-on collisions. Drivers traveling the wrong way on a street or highway.
- Left-turn accidents. Negligence while making a left turn are common causes of injury and death to motorcycle riders.
- Defective road conditions. Potholes and debris on streets, roads, and highways pose a significant danger to motorcyclists.
- Vehicle defects. Defective conditions on cars and trucks pose a significant danger to bikers, including flying tires and debris falling off vehicles.
Most Frequent Biker Actions Before a Crash
The most frequent action of a biker before a crash is traveling straight ahead. Accident data shows this action occurred in 73.9% of all crashes in 2018 prior to the collision. The second-highest percentage, 5.48%, is slowing or stopping on the roadway, followed by turning left (4.93%). Over 4% of bikers were stopped on the roadway before getting hit by another vehicle.
The statistics show that only a small percentage of all crashes are attributable to negligence by the biker. Almost all accidents are due to reckless, negligent, distracted, and inattentive motorists.
Who Pays for Repairs to my Damaged Motorcycle?
The Michigan No-Fault Act allows drivers and owners of an automobile to recover up to $1,000.00 from the at-fault driver and owner of an automobile to cover the damages and repairs to the automobile. However, motorcyclists are not entitled to make a mini-tort claim because it is limited to motor vehicles, and a motorcycle is not considered a motor vehicle under the Michigan No-Fault Act.
Typically, your own motorcycle insurance pays for the damages and repairs to your motorcycle. For an accident with an automobile, the at-fault driver and owner of the automobile are not responsible for any damage done to your motorcycle — not even the deductible. You must have collision coverage for the motorcycle with your own insurance company to get paid for repairs and damage.
For an accident with another motorcycle, the at-fault driver and owner of the motorcycle are responsible for the damages and repairs to your motorcycle. You would make your claim against their insurance company to have your bike fixed.
Motorcycle Accidents Result in Serious Injuries
Motorcycle accidents result in very serious injuries to bikers and passengers. The most common injuries include:
- Fatal accidents resulting in death.
- Spinal cord injuries, causing paralysis and nerve damage.
- Traumatic brain injuries, closed head injuries, and concussions.
- Back and neck injuries, including herniated and bulging discs.
- Shoulder injuries, including rotator cuff damage.
- Fractures and broken bones.
- Knee injuries.
- Scarring and disfigurement.
- Road rash.
- Psychological damage, like PTSD and depression.
Victims of motorcycle accidents often require surgery, lengthy hospitalization, and extensive rehabilitation. Those who suffered a traumatic brain injury need cognitive rehabilitation to help them regain their pre-accident level of functioning. Many of these injuries result in permanent disability from work and recreational activities. They also can negatively affect relationships with family members.
How Do I File a Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit?
You generally need a lawyer to file your lawsuit. The formal lawsuit document, called the Complaint, must specifically state the facts, claims of negligence, and damages. If it does not comply with the Michigan Court Rule requirements, a judge can dismiss your case.
Many cases settle before it is even necessary to file a lawsuit. However, a lawsuit must be filed when the insurance company refuses to pay a fair settlement or denies liability for the crash. In the lawsuit, the parties will have a chance to tell their version of the events at a sworn deposition. Eyewitnesses and police officers may also be requested to appear for depositions.
Once all of the depositions are completed and the facts are better understood by everyone, it is likely that the case will be negotiated by the attorneys or at a mediation. Over 95% of all personal injury cases settle without going to court or having a trial.
Can I Sue for Pain and Suffering Damages?
Anyone injured in a motorcycle accident can sue the at-fault driver for non-economic damages. These are claims in addition to no-fault insurance benefits and compensate the biker for pain and suffering, psychological damage, disability, scars, and disfigurements caused in the accident.
There are no limits on pain and suffering damages for a motorcycle accident lawsuit. The settlement compensation payout is often based on the insurance policy limits for all possible responsible parties. Simply put, the most seriously injured bikers receive higher settlements when the negligent party has a large insurance policy or if there are multiple insurance policies to pay the claim.
Who Pays my Medical Bills and Lost Wages?
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident and qualify for no-fault insurance benefits, it must be determined which insurance company is responsible for paying all of your hospital bills and medical expenses. These are lifetime benefits and include hospitalization, surgery bills, physical and cognitive therapy, and even in-patient therapy at a rehabilitation facility.
Many bikers also purchase medical pay coverage as part of their motorcycle insurance to guarantee medical bills will be paid if injured in a crash. This is important because your bills may not be covered if another automobile was not “involved” in your crash and no-fault medical benefits will not be paid.
For your lost wages, you are entitled to receive up to three years of wage loss benefits at 85% of your income. There is a maximum monthly amount for this benefit under Michigan law.
Do Motorcyclists Get No-Fault Insurance Benefits?
Your motorcycle must be insured in order to receive Michigan No-Fault Benefits by having basic motorcycle liability insurance, commonly known as Personal Liability and Property Damage (PLPD) insurance.
The primary requirement to qualify for No-Fault benefits after a motorcycle accident is that the accident must “involve” an automobile, such as a car or truck. There does not necessarily have to be physical contact with an automobile — only some involvement with a vehicle. This would include being forced off the road by a car or rolling your bike to avoid a truck entering your lane of traffic.
The no-fault insurance benefits generally come from a Michigan automobile insurance policy. If no-fault benefits are applicable, you can get them even if you were at fault in the accident. Injured motorcycle passengers always qualify for these benefits.
Wrongful Death Lawsuits after a Fatal Accident
If the crash resulted in fatal injuries to the biker or passenger, the surviving family members can file a Michigan wrongful death lawsuit against the negligent person. These claims seek settlements for the decedent’s pain and suffering before the death, loss of the companionship of the family members, and other claims that are allowed under the Michigan Wrongful Death Act.
The lawsuit can be brought by a family member of the decedent and is filed on behalf of the entire family. The person bringing the suit is appointed as the Personal Representative of the estate for the purposes of filing the case, but all family members have rights in the suit. So, even if you are not the Personal Representative you can be assured that your rights are fully protected by the court.
The graph above shows the increase in fatal crashes in the state of Michigan in the last 10 years. In 2018, there were 134 fatal motorcycle accidents in Michigan — a 27.6% increase since 2009.
What are the Legal Rights of an Injured Passenger?
Injured passengers can also sue for compensation. Claims can be filed against negligent drivers and even the operator of the motorcycle they are riding on at the time of the crash. The passenger is completely innocent in any accident. Many times, the biker and motorist attempt to blame each other as being responsible for the crash. Our attorneys and investigators will determine who caused the accident and go after the insurance policy of the at-fault driver to win you the highest possible settlement.
How Much is My Motorcycle Accident Case Worth?
The amount of your settlement depends on a number of factors. These include the seriousness and permanency of your injuries, the type of medical treatment, and how the injuries have affected your ability to lead your normal life. Other factors to take into consideration include whether you had any degree of fault and the amount of the insurance policy limits available to pay your settlement.
Our attorneys will evaluate all factors and provide you with a recommended settlement range for your case. There is no “average settlement amount” because of the many differences between cases. Every injury lawyer in our law office has a minimum of 15 years handling motorcycle cases and we will properly evaluate your case and work to win you the highest settlement.
Do I Need a Lawyer to Settle my Case?
No, you do not need a lawyer to settle your case. You can try to negotiate a settlement yourself with the adjuster, but you will likely not get close to the appropriate settlement amount. Studies show that injury victims receive substantially more money when they have legal representation, even after they pay the attorney’s fees and expenses.
There are also many mistakes you can make if you handle the case on your own. First, there may be additional insurance coverage that the adjuster did not disclose to you. Second, you may be forfeiting other potential claims because you did not follow the required insurance policy provisions or comply with other legal requirements. And third, you may be signing away important benefits when you sign a Release of All Claims that was not reviewed and approved by an experienced attorney. This is a huge mistake.
Examples of Michigan Motorcycle Accident Settlements
- $9,500,000 settlement for a biker hit by a public bus in Detroit.
- $5,000,000 judgment against a negligent driver in Kalamazoo.
- $2,750,000 settlement in a fatal motorcycle accident lawsuit.
- $1,900,000 settlement for a motorcyclist injured in a Grand Traverse County.
- $1,260,000 settlement for a motorcycle crash in the Lansing area.
- $1,100,000 settlement for a Detroit biker injured when a truck forced him into oncoming traffic.
- $750,000 settlement for a husband and wife severely injured on a Grand Rapids area highway.
- $560,000 settlement for a Michigan motorcyclist injured in Florida motorcycle accident.
- $500,000 settlement for a Flint area biker who was seriously injured in an accident.
Get Help from the Best Michigan Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
For serious accidents, you need the best lawyer on your side. Our motorcycle accident lawyers have earned the top ratings in the legal profession. We have been named “Super Lawyers” and are members of the exclusive Multi-Million Dollar Advocates Forum.
Get started on your case now by calling us right now. Our legal team will answer all of your questions, explain your rights, and begin our investigation immediately. Remember, there are never any legal fees unless you receive a settlement.
What if I am Hit by a Driver with No Insurance?
Many drivers in Michigan drive their cars, trucks, and motorcycles without state-required liability insurance. If you are hit by a driver without insurance, you may still be able to receive a settlement under your own policy if you have uninsured motorists’ coverage. Most policies provide this coverage and it is likely that you purchased it, even if you did not know it at the time.
In addition, many drivers and vehicle owners have the minimum liability coverage limits of $20,000. This is rarely enough money to fairly compensate an injured biker. You may be able to be compensated above those limits if you have underinsured motorists’ coverage.
Your auto and motorcycle insurance declaration pages will list all of your coverages, but many pages list uninsured and underinsured coverage under the same section. We will review your policy to determine all potential sources of insurance coverage available for your recoverable damages.
What is the Statute of Limitations in Michigan for a Motorcycle Accident?
The “statute of limitations” refers to the amount of time after an accident that you can file a lawsuit. The time deadline in Michigan to sue a negligent driver for pain and suffering damages, also called third-party lawsuit, is three years from the date of the accident. MCL 600.5805(10). This includes claims against the negligent motorist and the owner of the vehicle that caused the crash.
For no-fault insurance, or Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits, you must file suit within one year of the date of the accident if no benefits were paid, or within one year of the date that a benefit was incurred (for example a medical bill), but was not paid by the insurance company.
If you miss these time deadlines, your claims will be lost forever.
Michigan Motorcycle Accident Statistics
In 2018, there were 2,728 total motorcycle accidents in Michigan, slightly down from the total in 2017, but still a large number of crashes. Of that total, there were 2,004 injuries and 192 fatalities reported. An astounding 44.6% involved the use of drugs or alcohol. There were 242 total crashes with deer that resulted in nine fatalities and 170 injuries to bikers.
The counties with the highest number of motorcycle injuries were:
- Wayne County: 432
- Oakland County: 220
- Kent County: 180
- Genesee County: 98
- Muskegon County: 91
- Kalamazoo County: 72
- Ingham County: 71
- Ottawa County: 58
The total number of accidents fluctuated over the past 10 years. The highest number of crashes was 3,600 in 2012 and there was a huge drop off in 2014 before climbing up again to 3,290 in 2016.
What is Considered a Motorcycle in Michigan?
In Michigan, the definition of a motorcycle is a “two- or three-wheeled motor vehicle with a saddle or seat that can attain speeds greater than 30 mph on a level surface.” Similar vehicles, like “pocket rockets” or “mini choppers,” may meet this broad definition, but do not have all of the equipment required by Michigan law to legally drive them on public roads and will not be registered by the Department of State. To qualify as a motorcycle, all equipment requirements must be satisfied.
The laws for motorcycle accidents in Michigan are different than for other types of motorized vehicles, like mopeds and scooters. Specifically, the insurance coverage and rights to no-fault insurance benefits depend on the classification of the vehicle that is being ridden at the time of a crash.
Should I Deal Directly with the Insurance Company Adjuster?
The answer is definitely not. Insurance adjusters are trained to gather evidence to destroy or minimize your claim. You should never talk to an adjuster without an attorney present. This can be a huge mistake and may jeopardize your ability to pursue a successful settlement at a later date.
Adjusters often refuse to even tell you the actual liability insurance limits that apply to your case. The insurance adjuster will not tell you the real insurance policy limits, especially if you do not have an experienced and aggressive attorney in your corner. Our attorneys will get this information and review all insurance policies to make sure that you can get fair compensation for your injuries.
Contact us now so we can begin working on your case immediately. We are ready and eager to help you.
Michigan Motorcycle Accident References and Resources