Motorcycle Passenger Injury Attorney
You may think that the driver's protective gear protects you, but in reality, it doesn't provide much protection for passengers. As a result, most of the injuries sustained by motorcycle operators are suffered by their passengers.
Motorcycle passengers often face more danger than operators since they have no protection from the elements or other vehicles on the road. Were you injured?
At Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers, LLC, our personal injury attorneys are legal advocates for motorcycle accident victims harmed through someone else's negligence.
Contact motorcycle accident lawyers at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form today to schedule a free consultation. All confidential or sensitive information you share with our legal team remains private through an attorney-client relationship.
With no control of the situation, motorcycle passengers are helpless to prevent or stop what may occur and are victims regardless of who caused the accident.
Injured motorcycle passengers have a legal right to receive financial compensation for their injuries. Even if they were a motorcycle passenger in a single-vehicle crash caused by the biker's negligence, the rights extend.
Hiring a Chicago Motorcycle Passenger Injury Attorney
The motorcycle accident injury attorneys at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC represent victims with serious injuries harmed while riding as motorcycle passengers. We offer every potential client a free case evaluation to discuss the merits of your personal injury claim.
Contact our Chicago motorcycle accident attorneys today if you were injured or lost a loved one through wrongful death. We currently represent clients in Illinois and the Chicago area, including the following localities:
- Cook County
- DuPage County
- Kane County
- Lake County
- Will County
- Arlington Heights
Motorcycle Operator Fault for Injuries Caused to Passengers
Many motorcycle accidents do not involve other vehicles, making the biker at fault for the accident. Although not all accidents are due to recklessness or intentional negligence, the passenger is still just a victim in these cases.
In 2015, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Fatality Analysis Reporting System showed that 43% of motorcycle accidents that resulted in a fatality were single-vehicle accidents, causing over 2,000 motorcycle rider deaths. Many of these deaths were passengers who were just along for the ride.
Common Causes of a Motorcycle Accident Case
Nearly all motorcycle crashes can be prevented when one or more motor vehicle drivers or motorcycle riders remain alert while sharing the roadway.
The causes of motorcycle accidents often involve distracted driving, inattention, or failing to yield to the motorcyclist's right of way, even in a one-vehicle accident.
Motorcycle accident victims can suffer various injuries, including:
- Road rash
- Traumatic brain injuries
- Head injuries
- Spinal cord damage
- Broken bones
- Crushing injuries
- Cuts and lacerations
- Wrongful death
According to the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), many motorcycle accident victims are harmed in crashes involving hitting potholes, illegal lane changes, and distracted driving. Another cause of the accident is traveling in inclement weather.
Even a catastrophic injury can be exacerbated if the motorcyclist or their passenger fails to wear protective gear, riding boots, or a motorcycle helmet at the time of the crash.
Holding the Motorcycle Manufacturer Responsible
In some cases, a motorcyclist or passenger can be severely injured when an accident occurs due to the motorcycle's design or mechanical defect.
Other times, defective motorcycle helmets or failure of safety equipment can lead to devastating injuries or fatality, even death if the motorcycle was the only vehicle involved in a collision.
When the motorcycle's defective design, equipment failure, or inadequate manufacturer safety warning causes injury to a rider or passenger, there may be grounds for a product liability claim.
Injured victims have the right to file a lawsuit against negligent manufacturers or other liable parties in Illinois and nationwide for damages that include compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, pain, and suffering, and wrongful death.
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards
Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards are intended to protect all vehicle occupants during normal operation or crash events involving motorcycles, passenger cars, trucks, buses, or other motorized vehicles.
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), motorcycle riders are 30 times more likely to die in a crash than occupants of other types of motor vehicles.
In addition, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 43% of motorcycle rider fatalities occurred during single-vehicle crashes, with another 28% during multiple-vehicle crashes.
The NHTSA states that most crashes involving motorcycles are due to other car drivers violating the right of way. However, the motorcycle rider is also often at fault because of drunk driving or speeding.
Motorcycle Passenger Injuries: Helmets Save Lives and Heads
According to NHTSA, helmets saved an estimated 1,859 lives in 2015. Helmets are an excellent defense against head injuries that impact hard surfaces during collisions, but they won't prevent a motorcycle rider from becoming injured seriously.
In many cases, the severity of head injuries suffered by riders and passengers is due to their failure to wear helmets or protective safety gear. In nearly half of motorcycle fatalities, the victim wasn't wearing a helmet.
According to NHTSA, during 2015 alone, 4,950 motorcycle riders were killed in accidents, and an additional 96,000 sustained serious injuries. Many times, these crashes involved losing a loving family member.
In Illinois and across the nation, motorcycle wrecks resulted in nearly 25 million emergency department visits from 2003 to 2014, including more than 100,000 hospitalizations. Often, multiple vehicles involved in the crash lead to a higher fatality rate and extensive property damage.
The NHTSA estimates that medical expenses for motorcyclist crash-related injuries cost $16 billion every year.
Motorcycle Crashes: Recovering Damages for Motorcycle Passenger Injuries
Injured motorcycle passengers are entitled to have their damages covered by the person responsible for the crash. If other drivers were at fault, the injured passenger on a motorcycle could pursue a claim against that motorist.
Even if the motorcycle caused the accident, the passenger has legal rights in seeking compensation for their damages.
The same is true if the motorcyclist is to blame for the accident. Just as in a passenger vehicle accident, the motorcycle driver is responsible for their passenger's safety.
However, there are a few reasons that passengers may refrain from filing a claim. Most times, the person riding as a passenger on a motorcycle has a close relationship with the motorcycle operator.
The injured passenger might be concerned about the cost of the accident to the motorcycle operator. However, it is important to remember that insurance is specifically designed to cover these types of motorcycle crashes for all vehicles involved in the collision.
No injured passengers on a motorcycle in a crash should feel obligated to pay for their medical expenses. Instead, the insurer will directly pay an injured motorcycle passenger to cover medical bills, hospitalization costs, lost wages, pain, and suffering.
Motorcycle Passengers and Personal Injury Protection (PIP)
In Illinois, personal injury protection (PIP) benefits are beneficial during a vehicle accident. This insurance coverage is usually included in the policy of the driver or owner of a vehicle. However, what happens when you are injured while on a motorcycle with another person?
The Illinois Appellate Court addressed this issue concerning personal injury protection in 2002 in McCraw v. Lindley, 287 Ill.App.3d 694 (Ill. App., 4th Dist. 2002). In the McCraw case, a motorcycle owner was injured as a passenger on his friend's bike.
The driver of the motorcycle was insured under his father's car insurance policy that included PIP benefits. However, the son had been driving without a valid license and wasn't eligible for coverage under his insurance policy or any other insurance policy.
The court held that a person injured while a passenger riding with an uninsured motorcycle operator is entitled to PIP benefits under the motorcycle's insurance policy owner.
Additional Precedents Law
The Illinois Appellate Court has also addressed whether or not an additional insured driver of a car with PIP coverage riding as a passenger on another vehicle could claim PIP benefits. I
n the case of Kinnel v. Amoco Oil Co., 295 Ill.App.3d 1091 (Ill. App., 4th Dist. 1998), the court held that an additional insured driver riding as a passenger on another vehicle was not eligible to receive PIP benefits where there was no evidence that the insured was an intended driver of the vehicle at the time of the accident.
In McCraw, it appears from the facts that a judgment could have been entered against the injured motorcycle owner personally, as he was found to be negligent in causing his injuries because he allowed an uninsured person to drive his motorcycle.
However, if PIP benefits had been denied to the motorcycle owner because he was personally uninsured, the motorcycle driver would be precluded from recovering benefits against another insured person.
In Kinnel, it appears that there wasn't any evidence that the injured plaintiff was the intended driver of the vehicle at the time of her accident. As a result, she could not recover PIP benefits from an insured person, even though she would have been entitled to recovery from an uninsured owner.
In summary, PIP benefits are helpful in vehicle accidents where there is another vehicle involved with an insured person or persons. To recover PIP benefits, you must be rendered incapable of driving your vehicle or riding as a passenger in another insured person's vehicle.
Negotiating a Claim for Injuries Sustained in a Motorcycle Collision
When filing a claim against a motorcycle operator's insurance company, the passenger with the injuries is entitled to receive the maximum compensation they deserve. However, they need to remember that the insurance company will pay up to the maximum limit of the driver's policy, if necessary.
In most cases, the operator does not pay for the damages. However, if the cost exceeds their policy, the passenger can also use their underinsured motorist policy to cover the difference if they have this coverage.
Motorcycle Passenger Injury FAQs
Our personal injury law firm understands that many families have unanswered questions about filing a compensation claim with an insurance company after a motorcycle accident. A reputable motorcycle accident injury attorney has answered some of those questions below.
Contact a motorcycle accident attorney today at (888) 424-5757 (toll-free phone number) or use the contact form for additional information and immediate legal advice.
How Common Are Motorcycle Accidents?
Unfortunately, motorcycle crashes are prevalent throughout the United States, including in Illinois. According to the Illinois Department of Transportation, there were 3,442 motorcycle crashes statewide in 2017.
Of these accidents, eighty-three individuals died in biker accidents on urban streets, freeways, and state routes. In addition, data reveals that a high percentage of motorcycle crashes
Or a one-vehicle accident where the motorcycle collided with a fixed object like a tree or parked car with a passenger on a motorcycle was more severely injured in the motorcycle driver.
What Should I Do If I'm in a Motorcycle Accident?
If you have been involved in a motorcycle crash, handle the accident like all other collisions and call 911 for law enforcement and Emergency Medical Technicians (EMTs). Next, wait for EMTs to arrive to transport you to the local hospital, even if you believe you are not injured.
It may take hours or days for some injuries to appear through discomfort, bruising, confusion, infection, or internal bleeding. Therefore, only a competent emergency room or urgent care doctor can accurately diagnose your condition using the best diagnostic tools to determine if you are injured or not.
What Is the Number One Cause of Motorcycle Crashes?
The leading cause of motorcycle crashes involves other motorists and commercial truck drivers, making a left-hand turn into an oncoming bike's right-of-way. These crashes often occur when the other motorists do not see the motorcyclist approaching and make a left-hand turn crashing into the front or side of the bike.
The results of passenger cars making a left-hand turn crashing into a motorcycle can be catastrophic, causing severe injuries to the biker and passenger or wrongful death.
What Are My Rights as a Passenger Injured in a Motorcycle Accident?
If you were riding as a passenger on a motorcycle and were involved in an accident, you have legal options for compensation. Many bikers carry insurance coverage for their passengers. However, the amount of coverage might not be sufficient to pay for medical bills, lost wages, pain, suffering, or funeral costs.
Depending on who was at fault for the accident, you could file a civil lawsuit against other drivers involved in the accident through multiple claims. For example, accident reconstruction investigators might determine that another motorist cut off the motorcycle or another vehicle swerved into the bike lane, making them responsible for your injuries.
How Much Can You Sue for a Motorcycle Accident?
A report issued by the Jury Verdict Research Organization (Thomson Reuters Publishing) revealed the median jury verdict for a motorcycle injury case at trial is approximately $73,000, based on 2016 data.
However, some victims who have suffered severe injuries or wrongful death could receive hundreds of thousands or millions based on the unique circumstances of their case.
Hiring a Chicago Motorcycle Passenger Injury Attorney
It is always beneficial to have a personal injury attorney on your side to negotiate your claim whenever insurance companies are involved in paying for personal injury damages. Unfortunately, auto insurance companies are not on your side and have a vested interest in paying as little as possible.
Some motorcycle passengers may also feel more comfortable not negotiating a claim against a personal acquaintance, even through their insurer.
The Chicago motorcycle accident lawyers at Rosenfeld Injury Lawyers LLC handle these types of motorcycle accident claims for our clients on a contingency fee basis and will get the best possible financial outcome for your injuries.
Contact our law group today at (888) 424-5757 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your motorcycle injury case. All discussions concerning your personal injury case with our law firm remain confidential through an attorney-client relationship.