Hurt in a Motorcycle Accident in Minnesota?
Local Attorneys Explain Motorcycle Laws and Insurance Requirements
Due to the open design of a motorcycle, the rider may sustain severe injuries in the event of a crash with another vehicle. Even if a motorcyclist wears a helmet and full-body protective gear, the effects of an accident may be devastating. After such a crash, you may be able to collect compensation through an insurance claim, just as you would after any other motor vehicle accident. However, determining liability after a motorcycle crash can be difficult, especially as insurance adjusters may try to reduce your settlement if you were not wearing a helmet. Additionally, some states have different insurance requirements and laws related to motorcyclists, which may complicate your claim. Below, our local Minnesota motorcycle accident attorneys explain the unique aspects of these kinds of claims.
Having a qualified attorney on your side after a motorcycle accident is often essential to getting the compensation you deserve. A lawyer can negotiate with the insurance company on your behalf and defend your right to full compensation, regardless of helmet use. If you need to find a Minnesota attorney for your motorcycle accident claim, then consult our local listings.
How Are Motorcycle Accident Claims Unique?
A motorcycle accident claim usually involves serious injuries or even wrongful death, especially if much larger vehicles are involved. Other differences that set motorcycle accidents apart from car crashes include:
- Different common causes. Driver distraction and inattention are common causes of motorcycle accidents involving other vehicles. Due to the smaller size of a motorcycle, drivers in other vehicles may fail to notice an oncoming rider, causing a deadly crash. Additionally, negligent drivers may try to pass motorcyclists or share a lane, which increases the chances of a wreck. Finally, drinking and riding is one of the leading causes of single-vehicle motorcycle accidents and deaths, according to the CDC.
- More possible hazards. Certain hazards which may not affect cars and trucks can be deadly for motorcyclists. Road defects in particular may be dangerous for motorcyclists; in these cases, the city or government body responsible for the road may be liable for the crash. Additionally, adverse weather and defects in the bike and/or equipment may cause or contribute to motorcycle accident injuries.
- Possible biases. In some cases, insurance adjusters and/or juries may have biases against motorcyclists. For example, these parties may be more inclined to assume the motorcyclist was speeding or driving recklessly. Additionally, not wearing a helmet may make it more difficult to obtain fair compensation – though helmet use does not legally affect your ability to recover.
- Higher verdicts and settlements. Since the injuries and damages a motorcyclist suffers are usually high, the result of a motorcycle accident claim may be higher, compared to other claims. Since this compensation is usually necessary for riders to afford medical treatments, it is a good idea to consult an attorney who can protect your claim.
What Are the Minnesota Motorcycle License and Insurance Requirements?
In all 50 states, motorcyclists must have a special endorsement on their licenses in order to legally ride. However, the requirements that you must meet to obtain a “Class M” endorsement vary by location. Minnesota mandates that:
- A person operating a motorcycle upon a roadway must be granted the rights and is subject to the duties applicable to a motor vehicle as provided by law.
- No person can operate a motorcycle or motor scooter on any street or highway without having a valid standard driver’s license with a 2-wheeled endorsement.
- A 2-wheeled endorsement will be issued if the applicant has a valid 2-wheeled vehicle instruction permit and has passed a written examination and road test administered by the Department.
- If the applicant is under age 18, he or she must also successfully complete an approved 2-wheeled vehicle driver safety course.
- The Department can issue a 2-wheeled vehicle instruction permit to any person over 16 years of age who is in possession of a valid driver’s license, is enrolled in an approved 2-wheeled vehicle driver’s safety course (if under age 18), has passed a written examination for the permit, and has paid all necessary fees.
- A person who has an instruction permit cannot carry any passengers while operating the motorcycle, cannot drive the motorcycle at night, and cannot drive the motorcycle on any interstate highway.
Although most states hold motorcyclists to the same minimum insurance requirements as car owners, Minnesota is an exception. To legally ride a motorcycle in Minnesota you must have:
- $30,000 bodily injury liability per person. This means that each person, other than the policyholder, can receive up to $30,000 in compensation for injuries.
- $60,000 bodily injury liability per accident. Regardless of the injury coverage limits per person, the insurer will only pay $60,000 total for all injuries related to a single accident.
- $10,000 property damage liability coverage. This applies to the damage to vehicles other than the policyholder’s car.
- Personal injury protection (PIP). If you have PIP coverage, then you can file a claim with your insurer for your own injuries and property damage, even if you were at-fault for the accident. Although Minnesota does not require PIP protection, it is often a good idea to purchase this kind of policy anyway. Without it, you may be responsible for paying your expenses out of pocket if you cause a crash.
- $25,000 per one person/$50,000 for two or more people of uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage. If you have this coverage the at-fault driver in a car accident has no insurance, despite state laws, then you can file a UM/UIM claim with your own provider. Additionally, if your expenses exceed the limits of the at-fault driver’s insurance policy, then this policy can help make up the difference. In Minnesota, you can opt out of UM/UIM coverage; however, this kind of policy can save you from having to pay out of pocket for injuries from a car accident caused by an uninsured driver.
Additionally, depending on the circumstances, you may be able to negotiate for a lower or variable insurance premium for your motorcycle if you do not ride it consistently. For example, most people do not travel by motorcycle in the winter months, so you may be able to purchase a “lay-up” policy, which reduces your coverage, and therefore your premium, during a certain time period.
Can I File a Motorcycle Accident Claim If I Was Not Wearing a Helmet?
Minnesota is one of 28 states that have partial motorcycle helmet laws, which make helmets mandatory for only some people. According to state laws, all riders under the age of 18 must wear a helmet. All other riders are free to choose whether to wear a helmet. A motorcycle helmet can help protect you from serious head and brain injuries in the event of an accident. Other protective gear that can minimize potential motorcycle accident injuries includes: sturdy boots, light-weight riding armor, thick pants, a long-sleeved jacket and durable gloves. Additionally, since some neighboring states have universal helmet laws, it is a good idea to check local requirements if you plan to travel across state lines.
Although Minnesota law may not require you to wear a motorcycle helmet, insurance companies often try to claim that you contributed to your own injuries by failing to wear a helmet. However, insurance companies cannot use lack of helmet use as a reason to reduce your settlement. If this happens, then a qualified motorcycle attorney can help you fight for full and fair compensation.
Hurt While Riding? Find a Local Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Today
If you suffered serious injuries or lost a loved one in a motorcycle accident, then an attorney may be able to help. To find a local lawyer, consult our listings. Otherwise, if you have a question or concern about motorcycle accident claims, then feel free to ask the lawyers.