Breakdown of Michigan's helmet law

Jason Waechter, The Motorcycle Lawyer breaks down the new helmet law.

A new law allows a rider the choice to wear a helmet or not. This new law, like other laws that apply to motorcycles, it is surrounded by a great deal of misinformation and misunderstanding. This handout will set the record straight.

The new law lessons helmet restrictions, allowing motorcycles operators to ride without a helmet provided the meet the following criteria:

  • 21 years of age or older, AND
  • Haveat least $20,000 of "first-party medical benefits" coverage, AND
  • Have had a motorcycle endorsement for more than two years OR earned a motorcycle endorsement by passing a accredited or certified motorcycle safety course.

A passenger on a motorcycle may ride helmetless under the new law if:

  • The passenger is at least 21 years of age AND
  • Is also covered for at least $20,000 of "first-party medical benefits" (either by the operator's cycle insurance or their own)

So if you were to ride with a passenger, you may need an additional $20,000 of this medical coverage in addition to the $20,000 you require as the operator.

Some insurance companies do not even offer "First-party medical benefits;" some don't offer the higher limit of 20,000 which you need to be legal; some do not offer any coverage for a passenger; and some may tell you the "medical pay" coverage suffices - when it does not

I believe the new law may negatively impact civil negligence cases ("Pain & Suffering") if an injured motorcyclist was not wearing a helmet. The defense attorneys may argue that not wearing a helmet was unreasonable and that it was a cause of the injury ot the severity of the injury. If the jury agrees, a percent of negligence is assessed against the motorcyclist and that percentage is subtracted from the dollar amount awarded by the jury. If the jury decides that the motorcyclist was more than 50% negligent, the motorcyclist would lose - get nothing! More specifically, no money damages are awarded for non-economic loss (pain and suffering) for the injury.

Ride safe -
Jason Waechter