Average payment on motorcycle injury claims up, study says

Average payment on motorcycle injury claims up, study says

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John says he likes having the option to forego a helmet. John says he likes having the option to forego a helmet.
(WJBK) -

A change in the helmet law last year was a victory for motorcycle riders in Michigan, but many are finding out freedom to go without a helmet often comes at a high price.

"Went right down head first ten feet in front of us. A six-year-old boy, luckily had a helmet, went flying around 20 feet," said Dale Archambault.

There's nothing like seeing a brutal motorcycle crash to change your mind about wearing a helmet. Archambault said the rider and his son were fine, but in a sense he was scared straight.

"I do believe it does help save lives. I've seen it firsthand," he remarked.

A new insurance industry study says the average medical claim from a motorcycle injury rose by more than one-fifth in Michigan after the state relaxed its helmet law.

"Every state that had the motorcycle helmet law repealed saw an increase in crashes, injuries, incapacitating injuries and deaths, and Michigan is no exception," said Nancy Cain from AAA Michigan.

Two years ago the average insurance payment on a motorcycle injury claim was about $5,400. Now it's more than $7,000, up 34 percent, according to the Highway Data Loss Institute.

"You can't sustain a lot of major injuries, especially motorcycle injuries, when you're not protected. Generally you can have traumatic brain injuries that require extensive hospitalization, medical care, sometimes round the clock lifetime care," Cain said.

For 40 years, Michigan required all motorcycle riders to wear helmets, but in the last year that changed to bikers under 21. John said he appreciates the choice.

"That should be a matter of preference. Myself, that's the way I think about it," he said. "If I go on the highway, yes, I wear it on the highway."

Most bikers will tell you it's the motorcyclist without a proper license or training causing most of these accidents. They say that should be factored into the study, as well.

In the meantime, AAA is partnering with several other agencies to try and get the governor to reinstate the helmet law.

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