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Can Injured Motorcycle Passengers Sue for Compensation?

When you ride a motorcycle, you’re at a much higher risk of suffering serious or even fatal injuries in a crash than when you travel in a passenger vehicle. That risk applies to motorcycle passengers, as well. But like motorcycle drivers, motorcycle passengers can sue at-fault parties for their damages after crashes that weren’t their fault.

If you were injured while riding on someone else’s motorcycle, the process of getting compensation is similar to that of getting compensation if you were driving the motorcycle. However, there are a few differences, which we’ll explain in this blog.

You May Be Able to Sue the Motorcycle Driver

When it comes to getting compensation after a motorcycle accident, you’ll need to bring an injury claim or lawsuit against the at-fault party. In many cases, the at-fault parties are the drivers of other vehicles. But in some cases, the at-fault party is the driver of the motorcycles you were riding on.

If you were injured in a crash that only involved the motorcycle you were riding on, there’s a good chance the at-fault driver was the person driving the motorcycle. This also may be the case if you collided with another vehicle. If police, the insurance company, or a lawyer determine the motorcycle driver was at fault, you can file your claim against him or her.

The Motorcycle Driver’s Insurance May Cover Your Expenses

Most auto insurance policies automatically cover passengers when they’re injured in crashes alongside the policy-holding drivers. However, motorcycle insurance usually doesn’t work that way. Instead, motorcycle passenger injury claims are typically paid via guest passenger liability insurance, which motorcyclists have to purchase.

If the motorcycle driver who caused your accident doesn’t have this coverage, you may need to sue them directly for your accident-related expenses. If you have your own motorcycle insurance policy, you can make a claim against it instead, even if you were only a passenger in the crash.

You May Be Able to Sue the Other Vehicle’s Driver

Injured motorcyclists are eligible to sue negligent drivers who crash into their motorcycles or cause motorcyclists to crash, and injured motorcycle passengers have the same right. Both you and the person driving the motorcycle you were riding on can sue the same at-fault driver. Your claims will be handled separately, but they will both likely be paid via the at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy.

In Oklahoma, drivers are only legally required to carry insurance that covers injured victims at $25,000 per person and $50,000 per accident. That means there’s a chance the at-fault driver’s insurance may not be enough to cover your and your driver’s expenses, especially if one or both of you suffered serious injuries. In that case, you may need to file a claim against that negligent driver’s personal assets. Speaking with an experienced motorcycle crash lawyer is your best bet to discuss how to get the compensation you need.

You Can’t File a Claim Against Your Auto Insurance Coverage

Although motorcycles fulfill the same functions as passenger vehicles—transporting drivers and passengers from point A to point B—they require separate insurance policies. If you have an active car insurance policy, you can’t hop on a motorcycle and expect it to cover you if you’re involved in a crash.

This also applies to passengers, including when they’re injured by uninsured or underinsured drivers or riders. No matter what type of auto insurance coverage you have, it won’t cover any aspect of a motorcycle accident—even when you’re a passenger.

You Can’t Sue if You’re More than 50% at Fault for the Crash

Most motorcycle crashes involving passengers are caused by parties other than the passengers. However, some crashes are caused by passengers. Examples of motorcycle accidents caused partially or completely by passengers include:

  • Crashes where passengers grab the handlebars or interfere with the drivers’ handling and maneuvering of their motorcycles, including standing up, failing to lean when needed during turns, etc.
  • Crashes where passengers intentionally sabotage motorcycles or damage them in a manner that makes a crash more likely to occur
  • Crashes where the passengers own the motorcycles and fail to maintain them in a safe and road-worthy condition

It’s rare for motorcycle passengers to be ruled as being the majority at fault after a crash, but it does happen. And because Oklahoma is a modified comparative negligence state, motorcycle passengers who are 51% or more at fault for a crash can’t file injury claims against any parties or insurers for compensation.

Call Us After a Motorcycle Accident

In most cases, injured motorcycle passengers can get compensation after being injured in crashes. That’s because motorcycle passengers are passive participants when riding and are rarely at fault, let alone more than 50% at fault.

Whether it was a driver of another vehicle or even the person sitting directly in front of you, it’s our goal to hold the at-fault party liable for your injuries after a motorcycle crash. Contact the Oklahoma motorcycle accident lawyers at Parrish DeVaughn Injury Lawyers today for a free consultation. We want to help you get the money you deserve.