What can a motorcyclist recover from an at-fault driver?
In addition to a claim for no-fault PIP benefits against the insurance company of the driver of the motor vehicle, motorcyclists may be able to bring a motorcycle accident liability claim against the at-fault driver of a motor vehicle. Motorcycle liability claims are also commonly called tort claims or negligence claims.
If the motorcyclist can prove the operator of the motor vehicle was negligent, then he or she may be entitled to collect two distinct types of accident damages from the driver at fault for the motorcycle crash. These are damages not recoverable through PIP benefits and include:
- Non-economic damages — compensation for the pain and suffering the injured motorcyclist has suffered.
- Excess economic loss damages — compensation for benefits not otherwise provided by PIP benefits. This includes compensation for wage loss incurred in excess of the three-year PIP benefit cap.
Non-economic Damages in Motorcycle Accidents
Non-economic damages are commonly referred to as “pain and suffering” damages. It’s important to note that motorcyclist injuries must satisfy the “threshold injury” requirement. Under Michigan law, there are three ways a motorcyclist can establish a threshold injury:
- serious impairment of a body function;
- a permanent serious disfigurement; or
- death as a result of the injuries.
The legal definitions of “serious impairment of a body function” and “permanent serious disfigurement” are dependant upon the specific facts of a person’s injuries and subject to interpretation by Michigan courts. This is why a person injured in a motorcycle crash should contact a Michigan motorcycle accident attorney to determine whether he or she has suffered such an injury.
Motorcycle Accidents and Excess Economic Damages
An injured motorcyclist may also pursue a claim against the at-fault driver for the excess economic loss sustained as a result of the accident. Typically, this claim exists when the injured motorcyclist has exceeded or will exceed the three-year cap on work loss benefits, which are available as part of the PIP coverage the motorcyclist receives from his or her insurance company.
Wrongful Death Claims Associated With Motorcycle Crashes
If a motorcyclist is killed in an accident, or later dies as a result of the injuries sustained in an accident, his or her estate may file a wrongful death claim against the at-fault driver. Wrongful death claims are defined by Michigan law and have certain requirements that must be met. In order to successfully pursue a claim for wrongful death, it is recommended the victim’s estate contact an experienced Michigan wrongful death attorney.