The popularity of motorcycles has had ups and downs through the years. There is a segment of the population that has always appreciated the feeling of independence and freedom that comes with the feel of the air on the open road. Some people, on the other hand, are looking for cheap transportation. Another factor is the pandemic, which led some people to seek alternatives to mass transit.
For whatever reason people choose to ride, motorcycle popularity has increased significantly. Unfortunately, with an increase in motorcycle riding has come a corresponding increase in motorcycle accidents and the injuries and deaths that result from them. Moreover, some of those who are injured and killed are passengers, generally having no responsibility for the motorcycle crash that injured them. In this article, we will discuss the rights of motorcycle passengers.
Increasing Popularity of Motorcycles
Even before the pandemic, a Motorcycle Industry Council Owner Survey revealed that households owning a motorcycle had reached an all-time high. In 2018, approximately 8 percent of U.S. households owned at least one motorcycle. That represented more than 10.1 million homes. Notwithstanding these numbers, some people were concerned that motorcycle popularity was waning. However, Forbes and Bloomberg report that along with the pandemic, there has been a surge in interest in two-wheeled vehicles such as motorcycles and mopeds.
But with increased ridership has come an increase in motorcycle accidents. A U.S. Army article, citing statistics from the National Safety Council, found that when comparing 2020 to 2019, both motorcycle and car accidents had increased on a per mile driven basis. The article notes that a number of states have seen an increase in fatalities. Some of the factors attributed to the increase include stress, anxiety, and speed.
What Are the Rights of an Injured Passenger?
A motorcycle passenger is in a unique position in that he or she generally has no control over the accident. Therefore, determining the best action for the passenger involves a determination of who is liable for the crash. For example, if a motorcycle is struck by a negligently driven car or truck, the driver of that vehicle should be held accountable.
There are also scenarios in which the driver of the motorcycle is responsible for the accident. For example, the crash may involve another vehicle, such as an automobile, but involve circumstances in which the motorcycle driver was speeding or ignored other traffic rules. Another example would be a one-vehicle crash in which the motorcycle driver loses control of the bike or strikes a fixed object.
Finally, in many instances, both the driver of a motorcycle and the driver of another motor vehicle are jointly at fault. In such circumstances, recovery can be pursued against both drivers.
We understand that a motorcycle passenger may be a friend of the motorcycle driver and therefore somewhat uncomfortable with the idea of pursuing a claim against that driver. However, if the driver has insurance, it is only fair that the insurance company be held responsible for the coverage the policy was designed to provide.
Call with Questions
When a motorcycle accident occurs, there can be a number of legal problems to resolve, such as determining who to sue, identifying the insurance policies that are applicable, and proving liability and damages. The experienced personal injury attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield know the law and can assist injured motorcycle passengers across Oregon.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, or if a loved one has been killed, you will likely have questions. We are here to answer those questions in a free consultation and to help you understand all of your rights – just give us a call.