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Motorcycle Passenger Injury

Accident

One of the best things about owning a motorcycle is taking your friends and family along for the ride.  It’s a fun and exciting experience, especially if your friends are not typically motorcycle riders themselves.  You may be a motorcycle lover yourself but prefer riding as a passenger rather than driving.  Motor vehicle accidents do, unfortunately, happen, and motorcycle crashes are some of the most severe and deadly.  If a motorcycle passenger is injured, who is responsible?  How do California traffic laws come into play?  Continue reading for a discussion of the legal issues surrounding motorcycle passengers, and contact a dedicated, zealous San Francisco motorcycle accident attorney if you’ve been in a motorcycle crash in the Bay Area.

Is it legal to carry someone on your bike?

California law is not as straightforward as you might think when it comes to motorcycle passengers.  According to California Vehicle Code section 27800, you may NOT legally carry a passenger on your motorcycle, UNLESS:

  • The motorcycle has a seat “securely fastened to the machine with foot rests” or a sidecar attached and designed specifically to carry passengers; AND
  • The passenger keeps their feet on the foot pegs at all times while riding on the back of the bike.

If your bike is not specifically designed or modified to include passengers, then you may be violating traffic laws by having a passenger holding on the back.  If your passenger is then injured from falling off while you are riding or some other accident, then you might be subject to significant liability.  The courts, and your insurance company, may not take kindly to you riding with someone on your bike unsafely and against the traffic laws.

Who is legally responsible for an injury to a passenger?

The fault for injury sustained in a motorcycle accident will be determined similarly to how it would be for a passenger in a regular car. We have to look at the cause of the crash. Did the other party violate the vehicle code in some respect? If it were the fault of another vehicle, for example by running a red light, then it is highly likely the driver of the motorcycle would not be held at fault, and the other vehicle would be solely responsible for the damages to the passenger. If the driver of the motorcycle were partially at fault in a crash, then he or she would also bear partial responsibility for the passenger’s damages. If the driver of the motorcycle was solely at fault, such as by losing control while speeding, then he or she is solely responsible for the passenger’s damages.

Note that an accident can be caused by another driver, even if there is no collision. In the example just given, if you swerved to miss the reckless driver who pulled out in front of you and fell as a result, it would still be that driver’s fault for causing you to swerve.  Additionally, the passenger may be partially responsible if their own negligence played a role in the accident or their injury.  A dedicated motorcycle accident attorney can assist you in conducting a proper investigation of a motorcycle crash and determine who was truly at fault to ensure that your damages are covered and that you are not unfairly on the hook for injuries caused by other parties.

If you’ve been injured while riding a motorcycle, get help collecting the damages you are owed by contacting the seasoned and dedicated Bay Area motorcycle accident lawyer William E. Weiss for a free consultation at 415-362-6765.

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