Riding as a passenger on a two-seater motorcycle or in a sidecar can be exhilarating…until it’s not. If a motorcycle crashes, both the rider and the passenger riding tandem are at risk of serious and fatal injuries. A severe injury could drastically change the life of a passenger. It could also give the passenger the right to file for financial compensation in Nebraska.
Who Is Responsible for Motorcycle Passenger Injuries?
When a motorcycle rider takes on a passenger, the rider also accepts legal responsibility (liability) for the passenger’s safety. If the rider gets into an accident, whether or not it was the rider’s fault, his or her automobile insurance will cover the passenger’s injuries and medical bills. This includes if the motorcycle collided with a fixed object.
If the motorcycle rider is not at fault, the passenger may be able to bring an insurance claim against the motor vehicle driver, instead. The other driver’s bodily injury liability insurance will pay for an injured motorcycle passenger’s medical bills, up to the policy’s maximum. If there are any remaining expenses, the motorcycle operator’s insurance will provide supplemental coverage.
Nebraska also allows for comparative negligence claims. Comparative negligence means that both parties involved in an accident can be found liable. If an investigation discovers that both the motorcyclist and the other driver (or a third party) share fault for a crash, an injured motorcycle passenger could hold them both financially responsible. Comparative negligence could reduce the passenger’s financial recovery, as well, if he or she contributed to the accident.
Can the Passenger Be Found Liable?
Yes. While uncommon, it is possible for a motorcycle passenger to be found liable for a motorcycle accident. If the passenger distracted the motorcycle rider or jerked the handlebars, for example, and this caused the crash, the passenger could be held responsible. If the passenger contributed to the crash more than the other parties, he or she will be barred from financial recovery in Nebraska.
If the passenger only partially contributed, however, his or her compensatory award will only be reduced. Note that the comparative negligence doctrine only applies to motorcycle accident cases that go to trial. Insurance companies do not have to abide by this rule during settlement negotiations.
How to File an Injury Claim as a Motorcycle Passenger
If you get into a motorcycle accident in Nebraska as a passenger, you should take many of the same steps as if you were the operator of the motorcycle. Staying on top of the legal process yourself can help you protect your rights. Take the following steps to complete an injury claim after a motorcycle crash, if possible:
- Make sure the police are notified. Almost all motorcycle accidents are serious enough to require police reporting. If neither driver has called 911, do so yourself.
- Do not admit fault. Even if you believe you contributed to the motorcycle accident, do not admit fault to anyone.
- Collect evidence. While you are still at the scene of the crash, take pictures and talk to eyewitnesses to collect evidence of fault.
- Go to a hospital. Do not delay in seeking medical care, as this could hurt your chances of making a financial recovery.
- Call the operator’s insurance company. Your first outlet for financial recovery is the insurance policy of the person who was driving the motorcycle. Call to file a claim, but don’t accept a settlement until you’ve spoken to an attorney.
- Consult with an attorney. Call a motorcycle accident lawyer in Omaha to discuss the next steps that you should take as an injured passenger.
An attorney can give you advice throughout the claims process and help you pursue maximum financial compensation from the driver of the motorcycle, the driver of the other vehicle, and any available third-party insurance companies. A lawyer will make sure that your rights are protected as an injured motorcycle passenger in Nebraska.