Motorcycle Accidents that Involve a Motor Vehicle: Unintended Consequences of the 2019 Amendments to the Michigan No Fault Act
According to the Michigan State Police, 282,640 traffic crashes happened in Michigan in 2021 – 1068 of those accidents resulted in a fatality. Accidents involving a motorcycle accounted for 1.1% (3,271). But motorcycles were involved in 16% (171) of the traffic crashes that resulted in a fatality. From a potential for injury standpoint – motorcycle riding is risky business. All the more reason for riders (and the medical providers who treat them) to understand how the law handles payment of no-fault benefits to a motorcyclist who is injured in an accident that involves a motor vehicle.
Under current law, an injured motorcyclist (and his or her medical provider) must look to the no fault insurer of the owner or registrant of the motor vehicle involved in the accident to pay accident related medical expenses. If coverage does not exist at that level of priority, the motorcyclist or motorcycle passenger looks next to the no fault insurer of the operator of the motor vehicle involved in the accident. The next level is the motor vehicle insurer of the operator of the motorcycle involved in the accident. And last, the motor vehicle insurer of the owner or registrant of the motorcycle involved in the accident.
Long and short – the law forces an injured motorcyclist or motorcycle passenger to seek no-fault benefits through a policy they know nothing about. Even if the purchaser of that policy opted out of no-fault benefits, or chose to limit PIP medical liability to $50,000, $250,000 or $500,000. The law does seem to support that the motorcyclist or motorcycle passenger may access secondary PIP medical coverage through a household no fault policy with higher or unlimited benefits. Or in other cases the Michigan Assigned Claims Plan. But it is complicated.
The take-aways for medical providers who treat motorcyclists injured in accidents with motor vehicles are: (1) carefully identify all potential sources of PIP medical coverage, (2) pursue the coverages in sequence until the accident-related medial charges are covered (or an unlimited PIP medical policy is located) and (3) be mindful of the one-year statute of limitations applicable to no-fault claims.
If you have any questions regarding this article or other medical reimbursement matters, please contact Andrew Oostema or any of the attorneys in Miller Johnson’s Medical Recovery Group. mjmedrecovery.com.