Most collisions involve a high degree of force, and unlike people in larger vehicles, a motorcyclist and their passenger are not protected by any buffer zone. Often, motorcycle passengers are seriously injured or killed in a collision. Meanwhile, the driver who hit the motorcycle may walk away without a scratch. If you were injured as a passenger on a motorcycle, you may be able to recover damages from any party at fault for the accident. It is critical to retain an experienced Folsom motorcycle accident lawyer who will explore all of the possible options for recovery. In many cases, the insurance for the larger vehicle may not be able to cover the full scope of the injuries suffered by motorcycle passengers and their family. Travis G. Black is a knowledgeable attorney who can represent you in a lawsuit for damages.
Options for Injured Motorcycle Passengers
When analyzing fault in a motorcycle accident case in which a passenger suffered catastrophic injuries, an attorney will look first at whether either of the drivers was at fault. In most cases, a motorcycle accident case requires a plaintiff to establish negligence by one or more drivers. This means proving that it is more likely than not that the defendant owed a duty, the defendant breached this duty, and causation and actual damages were present.
A motorcycle accident may be caused by both the driver of a larger car and a motorcycle operator. For example, the driver of the larger car may be texting while driving, and the motorcycle operator may be weaving through slow traffic in order to get ahead of the line. Sometimes a motorcycle operator runs a red light, or the driver of a larger car is speeding and fails to yield. Often, both parties may be negligent. In that case, it may be necessary to sue both parties in order to recover damages from each of them.
In California, parties can be held jointly and severally liable for economic damages. This means that multiple parties who bear some fault for the accident can be held 100% responsible for economic damages, such as medical expenses, lost wages, and out-of-pocket expenses. This is important because in some cases, a driver or motorcycle operator has no insurance or insufficient insurance to pay for all of the long-term economic damages associated with a catastrophic injury, such as paralysis or a traumatic brain injury.
However, each party is only responsible for noneconomic damages, such as pain and suffering, mental anguish, and loss of enjoyment, up to their degree of fault for the accident. This means that the jury will evaluate the evidence and arguments and assign each party a percentage of fault. Thus, for example, if the noneconomic damages are determined to be $400,000, and both the driver of a larger car and the motorcycle operator are 50% responsible, each will be responsible for paying $200,000.
An experienced trial attorney will look at all of the possible sources of recovery. These potential sources could include the employer of the driver of the larger vehicle, the manufacturer of the motorcycle or component parts, the manufacturer of the motorcycle helmet in case there are defects in the helmet that contributed to the injury, a repair shop, the owner of a road, an inadequately protected construction site, or drivers of any motor vehicles that were illegally parked, thereby contributing to the accident. It is rare for the injured passenger to be at fault at all, but this is an issue that sometimes does come up.