Minnesota Motorcycle Accidents
It is hard to find a nicer place than Minnesota during the summer. The warm weather brings out outdoor enthusiasts across the state, including many who enjoy riding motorcycles. Unfortunately, with the increased freedom and enjoyment of riding motorcycles comes increased potential hazards to riders. Injuries to motorcyclists are often significantly more severe than injuries to motorists because motorcycles lack the additional protection provided by the steel body, air bags and seatbelt of a car or truck.
Generally, injured motorcyclists have the same rights as injured motorists with respect to potential liability claims against another party who causes a collision. However, basic economic loss benefits — or no-fault — coverage is not required for motorcycles like it is for motor vehicles, and motorcyclists are subject to some different driving rules under Minnesota statutes.
Motorcycles Are Not 'Motor Vehicles' Under The Minnesota No-Fault Act
In most car accidents in Minnesota, no-fault benefits are available to cover certain of your medical expenses, mileage to and from medical appointments, lost income, and replacement services. Such benefits are typically paid by your own auto insurance company. Further, no-fault coverage is mandatory for any motor vehicle operated on Minnesota roads. The no-fault law, however, carves out an exception to this mandate for motorcycles. That is, if you own and operate a motorcycle, you are not required to purchase no-fault insurance to cover your medical expenses, lost income or replacement services in the event you are injured while riding your motorcycle. Nonetheless, no-fault coverage, or similar med-pay coverage that pays medical expenses up to a certain limit (typically a much lower dollar amount than liability or UM/UIM limits), is usually available for purchase. It is smart to purchase this optional coverage.
Minnesota Statute Setting Forth Special Rules For Motorcycles
Minnesota Statute Section 169.974 addresses motorcycle licensing requirements. One precondition to obtaining a motorcycle license is a valid two-wheeled vehicle instruction permit. The statute also requires passing a written examination and road test, although the road test may lawfully be waived where the applicant possesses a valid two-wheel vehicle license from another jurisdiction that requires a comparable road test.
Minnesota Statute Section 169.974 also sets forth a number of driving rules unique to motorcyclists. These include rules concerning passengers, cargo which prevents the rider from keeping both hands on the handlebar, and riding between lanes and passing vehicles within the same lane. The statute does state that two riders may ride side-to-side in a single lane of traffic provided both riders consent.
The different rules that apply to motorcycle insurance, licensing and operation reflect the additional risk inherent with riding. Smart and defensive motorcycle operation minimizes this risk and makes riding a safe and enjoyable pursuit.
However, if you are injured through no fault of your own while riding your motorcycle, it is important that you seek and retain an experienced personal injury attorney to advise you about your legal rights. Your attorney can ensure those rights are protected and that you receive the compensation to which you are entitled under the law.
Furthermore, be sure that the police are called to the scene of the accident, and an ambulance if necessary. An accident report authored by a responding law enforcement officer is often the best way to document who was at fault. Even when a detailed and conclusive accident report is available, the at-fault driver's insurance company may still attempt to contact you and tell you they need to know how the accident happened and about your injuries. Although the insurance representatives may sound pleasant and sympathetic to you, beware that a primary purpose of these inquiries is to obtain evidence — often in the form of a recorded statement — that they can use against you. Once you hire a personal injury attorney to represent you, all communications with insurance companies should go through your attorney.
If you've been injured in a motorcycle accident, call 612-332-2000 or email us today to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney.