Motorcycle Accidents - Injury to Passengers on Motorcycles

injury to passengersRecovery may be had by a passenger on a motorcycle in a motorcycle accident where the motorcyclist rear-ends another vehicle because the motorcyclist is presumed to have breached a standard of conduct.  

If it is determined that a motorcycle was in the driver's control and if the circumstances were such that the accident would not have occurred in the ordinary course of events, the driver of the motorcycle could be responsible for his or her passengers.

Cases Where Motorcyclists Are Responsible

In a case where a motorcycle struck an auto head-on, after dark on an asphalt two-lane street with no centerline, the passenger on the motorcycle recovered a personal injury judgment from the motorcyclist on a theory of negligent failure to keep a proper lookout.  In that case, the evidence sustained the jury's finding that the motorcyclist alone was negligent, where the motorcycle crested a hill and collided with a left-turning auto.

In another case, where a motorcyclist ran a stop sign and collided with an automobile, the motorcyclist was held responsible for injuries sustained by his passenger.  Motorcycle passengers may recover from the motorcyclist on a theory of negligence, when the motorcyclist fails to stop at a stop sign, or when the motorcyclist is intoxicated.  For example, a motorcyclist who admits that he or she could have stopped but decided to outrun a deer, which bolted into the road, is likely liable for injuries sustained by his passenger.  Or, when motorcyclists started forward from a stopped position so that the motorcycle jumped forward, throwing passengers backward, the passenger may sustain an action in negligence against the driver. 

Recovery for Passengers

Recovery may be had by a passenger where the motorcyclist rear-ends another vehicle, or when the motorcyclist failed to negotiate a curve, ran off the road, and hit a road sign, injuring the passenger.  In these and similar cases, juries have found that the motorcycle was in the driver's control and the driver should be responsible to the passenger.  

Editor’s Note: This page has been updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 12.2.20]

Photo by Oleg Magni from Pexels
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