Who Owes a Duty of Care to Motorcycle Passengers?
Nothing is as freeing as riding on the back of a motorcycle. We should know; The Husband and Wife Law Team are motorcycle enthusiasts ourselves. But for passengers, as thrilling as it can be, they are also the most exposed on Arizonan roadways. That means, if you are involved in a collision, you are completely at the mercy of the person handling the motorcycle and the other driver. This can make it especially confusing once it comes time to file a claim. Whose liability insurance policy covers you? Both of theirs? Neither? Do you have a right to file against either one of them?
The Rights of Motorcycle Passengers
When discussing motorcycle accidents, most law firms focus on the motorcycle rider and the driver of the other vehicle, while passengers tend to get left to the wayside. This is because, during a motorcycle accident claim, the focus is primarily on the lead riders and other drivers. They have the most control over how an accident occurs, and thus tend to have the most amount of fault. Some fault can be applied to a motorcycle passenger, but it is very rare that a passenger causes an accident. In most other cases, claims will deal with the lead rider’s actions first and what their rights are to compensation.
But because of how devastating a motorcycle accident can be for a passenger, we at Breyer Law Offices, P.C. believe that it is important to explain to you your rights after an accident. Since passengers cannot control a motorcycle in a collision, all they can do is hold on tight to the lead rider and hope for the best. Sadly, the best usually never happens. Passengers can be thrown off the motorcycle, suffer crush injuries in their legs, and face catastrophic trauma in their shoulders, neck, and upper back, alongside other common motorcycle injuries.
A serious motorcycle injury can bankrupt anyone who has to pay them out of pocket. That is why determining if you can file an accident claim is so important. Compensation in a motorcycle claim can help you cover your medical expenses, alongside other types of damages, so that you can focus on healing and getting back on your feet.
Generally speaking, injured motorcycle passengers are covered under the insurance policies of the rider, meaning that if the rider caused the collision or crash, then you can file against their liability policy. In addition, if you are injured because of another negligent driver or rider, then you can file a claim against their policy. Because it is difficult to find passengers negligent for accidents, you may have more of a claim than most other people in an accident. However, insurance can become complicated, and you should be aware of how these policies apply to you.
Insurance Coverage and Passengers
Since most motorcycle passengers are also avid motorcyclists themselves, they often have their own insurance policies. Depending on the nature of your policy, you may have Medpay coverage, which can cover a portion of your medical expenses if you are in an accident, whether or not you or the lead rider were at fault. This policy can also be used in conjunction with your health insurance policy in order to ensure you receive the most amount of coverage in an accident.
However, even if you are not a motorcyclist and only ride as a passenger, you may still be covered under your own auto insurance policy or the lead rider’s, depending on your relationship. If you are a part of the same household, the lead rider’s Medpay coverage may apply to your injuries. You can also receive compensation from your uninsured and underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) policy, if the at-fault driver’s insurance has a low cap.
After exhausting your own insurance options, you may also be able to file an accident claim against either the lead rider or another driver, depending on who holds the majority of the fault. For example, if you are involved in a single-vehicle crash, the lead rider may have been at fault for riding recklessly, speeding, or taking turns too sharply. In these instances, your claim would be filed against their liability insurance.
We understand if you do not want to file a claim against a friend or fellow rider, but please understand that you are only filing against their insurance company. Their liability policies are designed to provide coverage for anyone injured in an accident, including you. You should always focus on getting yourself proper compensation.
In addition, if another driver caused the accident, your claim would be against their policy. There is any number of ways a driver can cause a motorcycle accident, from driving while texting, drinking alcohol, or ignoring traffic laws. Because it is hard to find a passenger at fault, your claim may be more clear-cut against the driver.
In any situation, if you were a passenger in a motorcycle accident, you likely need strong legal guidance about how to move forward with a claim. To do that, you will want to contact the Phoenix motorcycle accident attorneys at Breyer Law Offices, P.C. Our lead attorneys are motorcyclists themselves and have an in-depth perspective on how to file a successful claim. We can sit down with you in a free consultation and discuss all your worries and concerns about dealing with insurance companies and represent you throughout the claims process. Call us at (602) 267-1280 to learn more.
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During a free consultation, we will look at the important aspects of your case, answer your questions, and explain your legal rights and options clearly. All submissions are confidentially reviewed by Mark Breyer.
Confidentially reviewed by Attorney Mark Breyer