In July’s edition of the Michigan Rider, I wrote about Senate Bill 1 which was passed into law this May and some of the wide sweeping changes the bill makes to Michigan’s No Fault Act, which provides for payment of benefits such as medical expenses, home modifications, attendant care, wage loss, household services and medical mileage for those injured in an accident involving a motor vehicle. As I stated in that article, the changes are many and by and large will have very negative repercussions for anyone injured in an accident involving a motor vehicle. More importantly to motorcyclists, the new law has potentially crippling effects due to the discriminatory language of the bill aimed directly at motorcyclists.
This devastating portion of the new law bears repeating.
Starting July 1, 2020, persons applying for or renewing their auto insurance will be given a choice to opt out or cap their medical expense coverage under no fault. Those choices will include opting out of medical expense coverage completely (if the person has Medicare and any spouse or relative in the household have health insurance which covers accidents, Medicare or is covered under another auto policy); capping at $50,000.00 (if the person has Medicaid); $250,000.00; $500,000.00; or to keep unlimited benefits as the “old” no fault law provided for.
HERE IS THE POTENTIALLY CRIPPLING EFFECT THIS HAS ON MOTORCYCLISTS: When a motorcyclist is involved in an accident with a motor vehicle, it is the insurer of the owner, registrant or operator of the involved automobile that is first in priority to pay the motorcyclists no fault benefits. Under the new law, a motorcyclist is bound by the cap that the motorist chose for himself/herself on his/her own auto policy! For example, if the motorist chose a $50,000.00 cap for himself on his auto insurance policy and he is involved in an accident with a motorcycle, the motorcyclist’s no-fault benefits are capped at $50,000.00! Thus, while motorists will have a direct choice on the amount of no-fault benefits available in the event they are injured in an accident, motorcyclists have no such choice. There are limited exceptions where a motorcyclist may bypass the auto policy and look to the next policy in order of priority to pay, but even with the exception, once you reach an insurance policy in proper priority to pay, the motorcyclist is bound by the applicable cap on the policy.
Fortunately, while Senate Bill 1 was passed into law in May of this year, the above referenced portion of the bill regarding motorcyclists does not take effect until July 1, 2020.
Since the passage of this bill, in an effort to beat the July 1, 2020 clock, I along with other members of the ABATE Board of Directors have been tirelessly working to educate the legislators in Lansing about the damaging effect of this bill on motorcyclists and why this provision must be amended.
As part of my efforts, I have drafted a proposed bill that would remove the motorcyclist from being held hostage and capped by the auto insurance policy of the involved motorist. It has been presented to multiple legislators and we have been working to find a champion in Lansing to take it up and formally introduce it for voting and passage.
This is where all ABATE members come in.
It is critical that all ABATE members contact your legislators and educate them about the disastrous effect this law is going to have on motorcyclists. You may be surprised to learn when you talk to your legislator, he/she may not even be aware that this provision is in the bill. That has been my experience in talking with many legislators, and when I educate them about what this bill does to motorcyclists, many understand the legitimacy of our concern. Even if you live in a district where your legislator is pro-insurance company and resistant to our cause, it is still worth contacting them to voice your concern so they are aware that ABATE continues to be a presence in Lansing on behalf of motorcyclists.
Of even more importance is to contact the legislators who make up the Insurance Committee, especially if you are in his/her district. Below are the Insurance Committee members:
Daire Rendon (R) Committee Chair, 103rd District
Gregory Markkanen (R) Majority Vice-Chair, 110 District
Michael Webber (R), 45th District
Hank Vaupel (R), 47th District
Joseph Bellino (R), 17th District
Ben Frederick (R), 85th District
Michele Hoitenga (R), 102nd District
Beau LaFave (R), 108th District
Ryan Berman (R), 39th District
Brad Paquette (R), 78th District
Robert Wittenberg (D) Minority Vice-Chair, 27th District
Sherry Gay-Dagnogo (D), 8th District
Donna Lasinski (D), 52nd District
Tim Sneller (D), 50 District
Kyra Bolden (D), 35th District
Brenda Carter (D), 29th District
Kevin Coleman (D), 16th District
Lana Theis (R) Chair
Dan Lauwers (R) Vice Chair
Kim LaSata (R)
Aric Nesbitt (R)
Kevin Daley (R)
Tom Barrett (R)
Ken Horn (R)
Erika Geiss (D) Minority Vice Chair
Marshall Bullock (D)
Mallory McMorrow (D)
If you need assistance in identifying and locating your legislator, go online to http://www.legislature.mi.gov/ Click on the legislator’s link on the left side of the page and it will bring up each legislator. You can then click on the legislator for your district and will be provided his/her contact information.
Time is of the essence. I strongly urge every member of this organization to contact their legislator on this important issue and to educate and advise your friends and family who ride to do the same. This is an issue that must be resolved and if it can be resolved before July 1, 2020 then no motorcyclist will ever be at risk of being held hostage by the no fault cap that the motorist involved in the accident chose for himself/herself.
If the situation goes unchanged, then as of July 1, 2020 when you go out for a Summer ride, your financial future and possible financial destruction is in the hands of the motorist who you may be involved in an accident with.
As always, if anyone has any questions or if I can be of legal assistance to you or anyone you know dealing with this issue or who has been injured in a motorcycle accident, please don’t hesitate to contact me as I deal with these types of claims on a daily basis on behalf of injured motorcyclists statewide.
Further, if you would like to have me come out to your Region to speak or give a presentation on the legal rights of an injured motorcyclist or on any specific topic that your region may be curious about, please don’t hesitate to give me a call at (248-569-4646) or shoot me an e-mail at Dondi@buckfirelaw.com. I give presentations to Regions state-wide and there is never a charge associated with having me out. I enjoy having the opportunity to come out and meet motorcycle enthusiasts from all parts of our State!
Dondi Vesprini firstname.lastname@example.org
Phone: 248 569-4646
ABATE of Michigan Inc.
P.O. Box 99
Constantine, Mi. 49042
Phone: 269 435-2058
ABATE of Michigan
Fighting for the rights of all motorcyclists since 1976