Vehicle driver negligence has a greater impact on motorcyclists than whether or not they choose to wear a helmet.
Lansing, MI (PRWEB) October 09, 2015
On September 29, Senate Bill 527 (SB 527) was introduced, according to the Michigan legislature's website. The Bill, sponsored by Senator Rebekah Warren (D-Ann Arbor) has been referred to the Committee on Transportation. The Bill would amend part of the Michigan Vehicle Code (MCL 257.658) to require that all motorcyclists and passengers wear a crash helmet when they are on their bikes. “Basically, this takes away bikers’ right to choose,” says Attorney Jason Waechter, The Motorcycle Lawyer. “It’s a complete about-face from the 2012 repeal of the mandatory helmet law.”
Back in 2012, the requirement for motorcyclists in Michigan to wear a crash helmet was repealed with certain conditions. In order to ride helmetless, bikers must: be 21 years of age or older; carry at least $20,000 in first-party medical insurance; and have had a motorcycle endorsement for at least two years or got their motorcycle endorsement by passing a Certified Rider Safety Course. Passengers who ride without a helmet must also be over 21 years old and must also be covered with at least $20,000 of first-party medical insurance benefits.
“When the helmet repeal was signed,” explains Waechter, “There were a number of reasons given. Perhaps the strongest of these was that motorcyclists were asking for the freedom of choice.” Another strong argument was that the majority of US states already had helmet-optional laws in place, and Michigan would benefit financially by drawing motorcycle tourists to the state.
Whatever the reasons for passing the law, helmetless riding has not necessarily benefited motorcyclists injured in a crash. “What we’ve seen since the helmet law was repealed,” says Waechter, “is defense attorneys arguing that the injured motorcyclist contributed to their own injuries, or the severity of them, by not wearing a helmet.” Michigan has a comparative negligence law, which means that if a jury agrees with a defense attorney blaming the injured motorcyclist for their injuries or the severity of them, the jury assigns a percentage of negligence to the case, and that percentage is subtracted from the dollar amount awarded to the injured biker. If a jury assigns more than 50% negligence, the biker gets no money damages for their injuries.
This is not the first time that a reversal of the 2012 helmet repeal law has been proposed; Senator Warren sponsored a similar Bill in 2014 that did not pass the Committee on Transportation. In addition to requiring motorcyclists and moped riders to wear crash helmets approved by State Police, the Bill also specifies that people riding a motorcycle, moped, or bicycle may only ride “upon and astride a permanent and regular seat”. Also, motorcycle, moped, and bicycle riders must not carry more people at any given time than their bike is designed and equipped to carry.
“I feel the same way today that I did in 2012: I think that freedom of choice is the right of all Americans, including motorcyclists,” says Waechter. “That said, I think that bikers need to weigh the pros and cons of helmetless riding and make an informed choice. I also firmly believe that for the most part, vehicle driver negligence is a much greater factor in motorcycle safety than whether or not the biker chooses to wear a helmet. Better education of and awareness by motor vehicle drivers should be the first priority when talking about motorcycling safety,” he adds.
Waechter and his team strive to keep bikers “in the know” about current issues that affect them across the country. To join the discussion or get the latest news, follow The Motorcycle Lawyer on Facebook or subscribe to his newsletter by contacting writer(at)lawyerforlife.com.
Jason Waechter has spent two decades cementing his reputation for results. He is known as The Motorcycle Lawyer in the biker community, and is committed to helping motorcycle accident injury victims. Jason has fought tirelessly for accident injury victims and contributed significantly to safety education and motorcycle crash prevention. He has entrenched himself as one of the nation's premier lawyers. If you or a loved one has been injured in an accident, call 1-877-BIKER-LAW to speak with a lawyer who can help.