I Was Injured As A Passenger In A Motorcycle Accident – What Do I Do?
It’s frightening enough to cope with a motorcycle accident. Fortunately, if you were the passenger, you have more legal options at your disposal. While the one responsible for the safe handling of a motorcycle must contend with proving the negligence of those on the other side of the accident, the motorcyclist’s passenger might be able to obtain damages from either party. Read on to learn more – but as always, rely only on your own competent legal counsel who understands the details of your unique situation.
Who Breached Their Duty?
Proving liability for injury or damages requires showing that someone had a duty, breached that duty, and their breach of duty was the direct result of your damages. There must be court-admissible evidence of damages in the first place, along with evidence that the damages were directly caused by the party you are making a claim against. This applies as well to insurance claims as it does to claims moving through a court.
At the Scene of the Accident
Just as you would if you were the motorcyclist, learn what should and shouldn’t be said at the scene of an accident. Remember that less said is better, or the other side could use your statements against you. If unscrupulous enough, they may even go as far as to contend that you inadvertently admitted fault simply when that was not your intention. If you were the passenger, your need to explain yourself – even to first responders – is lower than most people think.
Obviously, your medical attention is the most important immediate matter. Keep your communications focused on what matters, and steer conversations away from even the possibility of self-incrimination. To the extent it is safe, though, there are certain elements of the potential claim you have to obtain right then and there. If you have an uninvolved witness who is willing to help you, ask them to assist with the following:
- Taking photos of the scene (including property damage and your immediate injuries);
- Making an audio recording, if you wish, but with the consent of the parties there;
- Documenting the names and verifiable contact info of the involved parties;
- Compiling that contact info along with the parties’ identification and insurance info;
- Noting anything unusual, such as signs of intoxication or other signs of negligence;
Especially if an accident occurs in an isolated area, it will be necessary to have the least injured party do as much of the above as possible. You can even enlist the help of the other motorist by acting as friendly with them as you can and asking them to send you photos of the scene, their contact info, and anything else that could help you. Explain only that it will help both of you deal with the insurance issues more easily.
Of course, if nothing more, a first responder could alternately be relied on to make sure you have the required information before leaving the scene. In any case, ask the first responders how to obtain copies of their report. It will be invaluable for your claim, and it is much easier to get the instructions straight from them.
Who Is Liable?
When the motorcycle accident is caused fully or even primarily by the other motorist involved, your claim for damages will almost always be made in conjunction with the motorcyclist with whom you were a passenger. You’ll want to combine efforts to compile evidence of the other side’s negligence and breach of their basic duty to keep their automobile under control.
Tens of thousands of motorcycle-accident-related injuries happen each year, and they are much more likely to cause injury or death than accidents involving cars or trucks. During collisions, the statistical odds are higher that the collision was caused by the other motorist, not the motorcyclist. This means that the chances are on your side that the other party involved is negligent – but of course, you must be able to prove it.
The Motorcyclist’s Liability
When your friend or partner was the one who was negligent, the matter can become much more tricky – and not just legally. Depending on the strength or weakness of your relationship, it may be very emotionally difficult to know how to behave at the scene of the accident if you have knowledge that they were at fault. Above all, however, you also have a lawful duty to refrain from making any false statements, whether or not you mean well. No matter who is at fault, you are also a witness to the event. At the scene of the accident, there is nothing stopping you from simply invoking the need for medical treatment and limiting the discussion to that.
The Passenger Motorcycle Accident Liability
Even if you were the cause of the accident (for example, by physically interfering with the motorcyclist), the fifth amendment right to not incriminate yourself is still decently protected, if invoked correctly. The Supreme Court has ruled that when questioned by the police, one must expressly invoke that right. You can more effectively do so by respectfully stating that you need legal counsel present before answering any questions.
Be aware that any two of the three parties could become co-defendants to a suit. If the motorcyclist is the defendant, for example, they could file a cross-claim against you as a third party if they lose the suit but have reason to allege that you were the direct cause of the accident. If your relationship with them is weak or even abusive, it is good to be careful about what you say to them as well – especially when in the presence of witnesses and first responders. If this applies to you, do not let arguments erupt. Above all, steer all conversation away from blame. First responders always look to the most level-headed party at the scene of an accident.
Simplifying Legal Issues for Passengers in Motorcycle Accidents
For motorcycle accidents of any kind, determining negligence can become complicated. Moving a motorcycle-accident claim through court and appropriately calculating damages must be done in a way that the courts recognize, and only the best counsel can ensure this is done correctly. If you were a passenger in a motorcycle accident, let MIL help you recover your financial damages so you can place your fullest attention on physical recovery. You deserve no less.