What to do if You Were a Passenger in a Motorcycle Accident
According to FLHSMV, from 2016-2018, there were an average of 685 passenger injuries and 31 motorcycle passenger fatalities in Florida. Because motorcycles lack other vehicles’ protective equipment, injuries and deaths are much more common than with different types of accidents.
As a passenger, you have no control over the operation of the vehicle. Therefore, when a motorcycle passenger is injured, several particular circumstances must be taken into account.
Who is Liable for Injuries I got as a Passenger?
Depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident, several parties may be found liable, and they are who you would seek to recover damages from in your claim. They include:
- The driver of the motorcycle — If it was a single-vehicle accident, the motorcycle driver might be found at fault for the accident and liable for damages.
- The other vehicle’s driver — If it was a multiple-vehicle accident, and the other driver is found to be at fault, their insurance should cover your claim.
- Both drivers involved in the accident — If both drivers are deemed to be at fault to varying degrees, you may be able to bring your claim against both parties.
- Manufacturer of the motorcycle — If a defective product caused the accident on the bike, you might be able to bring the claim against the manufacturer.
- A repair shop or mechanic — If repairs to the motorcycle were negligent and shoddy work contributed to the accident, you might be able to bring a claim against the repair shop or the mechanic.
- Public maintenance entity — If defects in the road (such as unmarked uneven pavement in a construction zone) contributed to the accident, you might be able to claim against the public entity responsible for maintaining the road.
The Driver of the Motorcycle was Impaired When I Was Injured. Can I Still Seek Compensation?
In most circumstances, a passenger in a motorcycle accident is not considered at fault when an accident occurs. However, suppose you were aware that the driver was impaired. In that case, the insurance company may try to deny or reduce your claim by arguing that you are partially responsible for your injuries. The same is true if the driver was otherwise unqualified to be driving the motorcycle, such as being unlicensed.
In What Circumstances Can a Passenger in a Motorcycle Accident be Held Responsible for Injuries?
Usually, passengers are not considered to be liable for the actions or negligence of the driver. However, in certain circumstances, passengers may be deemed partially responsible for a motorcycle accident or injuries. These circumstances include:
- You knew the driver was impaired or unqualified to be driving a motorcycle.
- You distracted or startled the driver with a reckless act.
- You were riding on a motorcycle that was not built to accommodate two people.
- You failed to ride in-sync with the driver.
In some of these circumstances, the insurance company may allege that you are responsible for your injuries. When determining who is liable in an accident, the court and insurance companies use a formula to assign percentages of negligence. This is called “comparative negligence.” Typically, as long as you are found to be less than 50% responsible, you may still be able to seek compensation for damages.
How can Motorcycle Passengers Help Prevent Accidents?
As a passenger, you have no control over the motorcycle and what the driver does. But, you can take measures to protect yourself better, such as wearing motorcycle protective gear. Wearing a helmet and protective clothing can prevent or lessen the severity of the most common motorcycle accident injuries. Other steps you can take include:
- Ask the driver for guidance on how to ride a motorcycle as a passenger before you get on the bike. They can answer any questions you have.
- Motorcycle passenger footrests are required by Florida law. So, use them, even if you’re not moving. Putting your feet down while the bike is stationary can throw off balance for the rider.
- Try not to make abrupt movements or reckless acts that can startle or distract the driver.
- Hold the passenger handlebars or onto the driver’s belt loops firmly.
- As the rider heads into a curve, look over their shoulder in the direction they are leaning.
- Keep your feet away from the exhaust pipes. Look at where they are before you get on and keep a mental note to avoid them.
- Don’t ride as a passenger if there is not a permanently affixed passenger seat. Doing so is dangerous, and it is against the law in Florida.
What do I do as a Passenger After a Motorcycle Accident?
After a motorcycle accident, you should immediately contact the police, then begin gathering as much evidence as possible such as taking pictures, videos, information on the other vehicle (if there is one) and witness contact information. Be sure to look for surveillance cameras on nearby buildings or traffic signals.
If you’re unable to gather this evidence, try to have someone else do it for you. You want to capture as much information about the scene as possible, including street signs, potholes, lighting conditions, and other information about the location. The more evidence you gather, the easier it will be to piece together vital details of what caused the accident.
Always seek medical attention after an accident and hold onto any documentation of medical treatments. Then, contact the Darrigo and Diaz team to be your expert motorcycle accident attorneys. We can give you a free, no-obligation phone consultation from your home or hospital bed and help guide you through the next phases of the damage compensation recovery process. Reach out to us by calling (813) 774-3341 or online to confidentially discuss your case.