Motorcycle Passenger Claims
The Chicago Injury Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. represent injured victims and families of those killed in motorcycle accidents. Often time, a motorcyclist is carrying a passenger when a collision occurs, leaving both driver and passenger with numerous questions regarding liability, sources of compensation, and the claims process in general. For motorcycle passengers, you may be wondering how your case will be handled if the person operating the motorcycle caused or contributed to the crash, as opposed to some other person or factor, or vice versa. For motorcycle drivers, you may have concerns over both your passenger’s claim, as well as your own claim, with additional inquiries over the impact of any fault attributed to you.
Perhaps the most important thing to know is that when it comes to personal injury claims following an accident, motorcycle passengers are treated much like passengers in automobiles. Consequently, when a passenger is harmed through no fault of their own, they are entitled to seek compensation from the person(s) that caused them harm. Determining the source or sources of compensation in motorcycle passenger injury claims, depends on several factors, including the circumstances of the accident; the percentage of fault attributed to the parties involved, the extent of the victim’s damages; coverage limits; policy terms; the circumstances of the accident; applicable state (or federal) law; and the availability of coverage based upon each of these factors.
In order to gain a better understanding of motorcycle passenger injury claims, it may be helpful to consider some specific examples as well as the ways in which certain factors or variables can come into play in a particular case.
Consider a scenario in which a motorcyclist and his passenger are injured in a crash caused entirely by the fault of another motorist. Here, insurance held by the other motorist, being the at-fault party, would be the source from which both victims could seek compensation for their injuries. Assuming that the at-fault driver is insured under a policy with a sufficient coverage to compensate the victims for damages sustained in the crash, the only remaining issue is determining the amount of compensation that each are entitled to. Keep in mind though that even where fault has been established, having an attorney advocating on your behalf can maximize the amount of compensation recovered.
Now consider a similar scenario, in which fault is wholly attributed to another motorist, but that motorist was not insured by an auto policy at the time of the accident; did not carry enough insurance to cover the victim’s damages; and/or left the scene of the accident. Here, uninsured/underinsured motorist (UM/UIM) coverage carried by (or applicable to) the person driving the motorcycle is invoked. If the at-fault party was entirely uninsured, or could not be identified due to a hit-and-run, then UM coverage applies to both driver and passenger to the extent of policy limits. On the other hand, if the at-fault motorist carried insurance, but not enough to cover damages, the remainder can be paid through UIM coverage.
In the alternative, let’s say the person driving the motorcycle causes the accident. Assuming the motorcyclist is insured, which is required under Illinois law, compensation for the passenger’s injuries would come from the policy held by (or applicable to) the motorcycle driver. Bodily injury coverage would provide the initial source, with any remainder coming from UIM coverage, and sometimes even special coverage applying specifically to motorcycle passengers. If the passenger’s damages exceed coverage held, then the victim may wish to pursue a claim directly against the driver to obtain the full amount of compensation they are entitled to. Keep in mind though, that entry of a judgment against the motorcycle driver may require additional enforcement measures, or may be left unfilled if the defendant has no current or future means to pay it.
Whether passenger or driver, and regardless of fault, it is important to know your legal rights and options following a crash. The Chicago Motorcycle Accident Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. offer FREE no-obligation consultations for personal injury victims, but also invite you to call, message, or email us, even if you just have a simple question or concern.