Recognizing the individual and societal costs of motorcycle accidents, in a 1972 decision – subsequently affirmed by the U.S. Supreme Court upholding the constitutionality of a Massachusetts motorcycle helmet law, the Federal District Court for Massachusetts said:
While we agree with plaintiff that the act’s only realistic purpose is the prevention of head injuries incurred in motorcycle mishaps, we cannot agree that the consequences of such injuries are limited to the individual who sustains the injury….
The public has an interest in minimizing the resources directly involved.
From the moment of the injury, society picks the person up off the highway; delivers him to a municipal hospital and municipal doctors; provides him with unemployment compensation if, after recovery, he cannot replace his lost job, and, if the injury causes permanent disability, may assume the responsibility for his and his family’s subsidence. We do not understand a state of mind that permits plaintiff to think that only he himself is concerned. Simon v. Sargent. 346 F. Supp. 277, 279 (D. Mass. 1972), affirmed, 409 U.S. 1020.
Because a motorcycle itself provides virtually no protection in a crash, a staggering eighty percent of reported motorcycle crashes result in injury or death. Yet, according to National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) research, only slightly more than half of motorcycle crash victims have private health insurance coverage. In addition, although Massachusetts mandates no-fault motor vehicle insurance coverage in the form of Personal Injury Protection (PIP), to provide payment for medical bills, lost wages and the cost of replacement services up to $8000.00 as a result of motor vehicle accidents, PIP benefits are not available to persons injured as an operator or passenger on a motorcycle.
One way to address the gap between devastating result of motorcycle accidents and the lack of insurance is with the purchase of Medical Payments (MedPay) coverage available under a motor vehicle insurance policy. This optional no-fault coverage covers medical expenses as a result of a motor vehicle accident, including injuries sustained in a motorcycle accident, which are in addition to any health care coverage. In Massachusetts insurers are required to sell you $5000.00 in MedPay coverage, however, higher limits are available through most insurers.