For many people, riding on the back of a motorcycle is invigorating. For others, it is putting up with your date’s mode of transportation. And, for some, it is simply a means of getting to where you are going.
Being a motorcycle passenger can also be dangerous, and even deadly. If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, you do have rights. Seeking the aid of a personal injury lawyer can help you defend those rights and pursue compensation for your injuries.
Who Can You Sue After a Motorcycle Accident?
Determining who you can sue depends upon who was responsible for the accident, and that may not always be cut and dry. In most vehicle accidents, one or more drivers are often to blame.
But motorcycles can also be a source of one-vehicle accidents. This could be due to negligence by the driver, but not always. Whether the motorcycle you were riding on was involved in a one-vehicle, two-vehicle, or multiple-vehicle accident, the fault must be determined to know who to sue, and there is also a possibility that no driver is to blame.
Some examples of other responsible parties include:
- Poor maintenance of the motorcycle or the other vehicle involved, which could be the fault of a dealership or repair shop
- A faulty part or piece of equipment, which could be the responsibility of the maker of that part and/or the vehicle manufacturer
- Poor road conditions due to a lack of maintenance, for which the responsibility could fall upon the municipality
For a free legal consultation, call 800-537-8185
When a Motorcycle Passenger May Be Partially Responsible
While a motorcycle passenger is likely not responsible for an accident, they could be partially responsible for their own injuries. Most states have some type of law on the books requiring motorcycle drivers and passengers to wear a helmet.
Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama require motorcycle drivers and passengers of any age to wear one. Some states have age-related regulations. Arkansas, for example, requires anyone under the age of 21 to wear a helmet, and anyone of any age must wear protective eye gear.
Not Wearing a Helmet Could Fall Under Comparative Negligence
Your failure to comply with the laws of the state in which you suffered injuries from a motorcycle accident could be considered negligence. By not wearing a helmet, you may share responsibility through comparative negligence for your injuries. States such as Mississippi and Louisiana have laws of comparative negligence.
The court will put a percentage value on your responsibility. If the jury or judge finds you 25% at fault for not wearing a helmet, you can still recuperate up to 75% of the compensation you seek.
In some of those states, however, if you are found 51% or more at fault, you may be barred from receiving any compensation at all.
Not Wearing a Helmet Could Equate to Contributory Negligence
There are a few states that have strict laws about contributory negligence, meaning you cannot recover if you are even 1% at fault. For example, in Alabama, if the defendant can show that you as the passenger were negligent in some way, a court could rule the defendant bears no responsibility for your injuries.
What Damages Can You Sue for from a Motorcycle Accident?
As a passenger who received injuries in a motorcycle accident, you can sue for your physical injuries—and also for emotional damages. Examples include:
- Your medical expenses, including emergency care, tests, hospitalization, surgery, and follow-up doctor visits
- Physical therapy and rehab
- Future medical bills
- Lost wages from being unable to work
- Physical pain and suffering
- Mental trauma and anguish
- Scarring or disfigurement
For many of the above damages, known as economic damages, you will have bills revealing the expenses you or your insurance has had to pay out. For non-economic damages, including pain, suffering, and emotional trauma, you should rely on your personal injury attorney to set an amount awarded to victims in earlier similar cases.
The Statute of Limitations for Filing a Claim Following a Motorcycle Accident
No matter whether you were the passenger or the motorcycle driver involved in an accident, different states offer different lengths of time in which you, as a victim, can file a lawsuit.
In Louisiana, there is a very small time frame of one year in which to file. This means you only have a year to find and hire your attorney and for that attorney and their legal team to examine your case, collect evidence, and file the paperwork.
In Alabama, the statute of limitations is two years. And in Arkansas and Mississippi, you have up to three years to file a legal claim following a motorcycle accident.
Will Your Motorcycle Accident Case Go to Trial?
In some cases, your injury claim could go to trial. However, the final decision is yours. As the plaintiff in a motorcycle accident case, you have control as to whether you feel the defendant’s team is offering you a good compensation deal or trying to get away with too little.
You can always ask your attorney’s opinion, but if you cannot come to an agreement on a settlement offer by the defendant, the only way to possibly receive what you want is by going to trial. You have the right to a trial by jury or a bench trial with only a judge hearing your case.
Going to court will take time and could cause you emotional distress. If you win, it will take longer for you to receive compensation. It is up to you to determine whether the possible additional funds and time are worth the risk.
How Much Will You Have to Pay Your Attorney?
Most personal injury lawyers work on contingency fees. When you hire a personal injury attorney following a motorcycle accident, you will pay no fees upfront. You will sign a representation agreement, which will explain your lawyer’s fees—generally a percentage of the compensation they help you receive through negotiation or a lawsuit.
Once your case is won, your attorney gets paid. However, if for some reason you do not win your case, you will not owe the attorney any money for attorney’s fees.
Call Morris Bart Law for a Free Legal Consultation
When you are looking for the right personal injury lawyer to handle your motorcycle accident case, look at Morris Bart’s attorneys’ results. We have experienced attorneys in Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, and Arkansas.
We offer a free initial consultation to review your case. Contact us and put us to work for you!
to find a Morris Bart office near you.