Filing a Motorcycle Passenger Accident Claim
It is obvious that riding a motorcycle has increased risks for accidents and injuries. As a passenger on a motorcycle, you are entitled to compensation if you were injured because of the negligent driving of the motorcycle operator, another motorist, municipality or another third party whose actions or failure to act contributed to your accident and injuries.
Most motorcycle accidents are one-vehicle incidents. An inexperienced or reckless rider who was operating the bike you were on may have been engaged in any of the following negligent actions:
- Unsafe lane change
- Failure to properly maintain the bike
- Inability to safely navigate a bend or curve in the roadway
- Improper turning
- Illegal lane splitting
- Hitting a fixed object in the roadway
Because most passengers are friends of the operator, they may be reluctant to pursue an injury claim against them. However, most riders are insured so any compensation awarded or agreed upon will come from the liability insurer with no financial output from the rider.
A large number of accidents are caused by other motorists who made a left turn at an intersection directly into the path of an approaching motorcycle or suddenly pulled into traffic from a parking space or driveway. Some of these accidents occur because of distracted or intoxicated driving or simply because the motorist failed to notice the bike because of its small size or from poor visibility. In these cases, the passenger may have a claim against the motorist or include both the motorcycle operator and motorist if some action by the bike operator may have contributed to the collision.
In other cases, defective road design, failure to perform road maintenance by a municipality or state, or poor motorcycle maintenance by a repair shop or mechanic may have been contributing factors. If debris or an object in the roadway caused the accident, then the party responsible for that item may be liable. In some cases, you may have a claim for defective design or manufacture of the bike that an expert can assess.
If you reside in a “no-fault” state, you generally must first pursue a claim against your own insurer or the insurer for the motorcycle for PIP or personal injury protection benefits such as medical expenses and wage losses up to a certain limit. You have to meet a threshold limit before you can file a claim for negligence against another party or if your injuries are serious. Not all states allow PIP benefits for motorcycles, however, or it may permit it as an option.
Should the responsible party be uninsured, you can pursue an uninsured claim against your own policy provided you possess such coverage.
Any injury claim must be supported by police reports, witness statements, examination of the motorcycle, statements of the parties, medical records and reports and employment records. In severe injury cases, specialists in medical, economic, accident investigation and rehabilitation may be needed to demonstrate the substantial damages that may be present.