Motorcycles are involved in around 105,000 crashes each year in the U.S. with 84,000 of those being injury crashes and 5,000 fatalities. This leaves 15,000 motorcycle crashes each year that result in property damage but no injury which is in stark contrast to passenger vehicle crashes that have far more non-injury crashes versus injury crashes.

What this show is just how likely a motorcycle rider or passenger is to be injured when a motorcycle crashes than when a car crashes. This leaves a lot of people needing medical treatment, most of the bills in a motorcycle crash are paid by the insurance company for the at-fault driver/rider.

Motorcycle accidents

Motorcycle Insurance

California requires that if you are operating a motorcycle that you have an auto insurance policy that covers at least $15,000 in injury or death of one person and $30,000 for two or more. Like most insurance policies, this pays out when the insured (the person covered by the policy) does something negligent that causes injury to another person.

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Then the damages are added up and the insurance company pays compensation to the injured person. In these cases, the auto insurance will pay for the medical bills for those injured by their insured.

Medpay Provision

Many automobile/motorcycle insurance policies have what’s called a medpay provision. This is added onto the insurance policy for a small increase in the premium with some states requiring the policy to have a minimum amount of medpay.

In California, insurance companies are required to offer it and explain it to the insured motorist, but the driver can decline. This provision pays any medical bills for you or your passenger(s) in the event you get into a wreck regardless of whether you are at fault in the accident. Medpay coverages can be as low as $1,000 or as high as $25,000.

So how does this work?
Let’s say you get in a motorcycle crash and you have a passenger riding on the back. If you both sustain $5,000 worth of medical bills and the medpay coverage goes to $10,000, then all of both of your bills would be covered. This is true even if you were at fault or the other vehicle driver was at fault.

Do I have to pay it back?
The short answer is yes under the right of subrogation which means that if the insurance company pays your bill that should have been paid by the person who injured you, then they can get reimbursed.

However, under California law, there are limits to your insurance company’s right to get that money back. So the real answer is: maybe … it’s complicated. Let your attorney sort this out.

So why get medpay if I just have to pay it back?
First, if the accident is your fault, it’s nice to have medpay to help absorb some of your own medical bills. Second, if it’s someone else’s fault, your medical bills could start piling up. Many health insurance policies pay a percentage of the bills leaving the patient to pay the rest. If you have to wait for the case to settle, the accumulation of those bills could drain your finances, so getting your medpay provision to pay upfront is a benefit.

Finally, remember the law is complicated and there may arise circumstances where either you don’t have to pay them back, or the insurance company doesn’t want to deal with it. Some medpay payments are low—around $1,000—and it would take more than that in attorney fees to get it back.

Personal Injury Protection (PIP)

Personal injury protection is a provision in an insurance policy that pays for injuries from an auto accident. Like medpay, it is a no-fault provision which means it pays out based on being injured in an auto accident. However, medpay pays only for medical treatment, and PIP pays for medical bills plus other losses.

What does it cover?
PIP pays for medical bills plus other losses based on the provision in the insurance policy. In most cases, it pays:

  • Medical bills
  • Funeral costs
  • Lost Income
  • Child care (depends on the policy)
  • Survivors losses

How does it work?
If the motorcycle rider has PIP coverage, then the insurance company will pay for the losses covered for the rider and/or passenger if injured in an automobile policy regardless of fault.

Does PIP have to be paid back?
While California does allow for insurance companies to be paid pack (subrogated) by the at-fault driver for the losses it covered, most PIP policies in California have a co-pay or deductible and no subrogation will be sought.


This coverage is required by California law. It pays the insured involved in a car accident for losses sustained that are not covered by the at-fault driver. For example, if the injured gets injured by another driver that has no insurance (uninsured) or has to little insurance for the damages caused (underinsured), then the driver’s own insurance company will pay for those damages. In most policies in California, UM/UIM only pays for medical bills and property damage.

Health Insurance

Your healthcare policy will pay for your medical bill even if you are involved in an accident. However, they are entitled to be reimbursed (subrogated) by the person who is ultimately responsible. In most cases, the hospital or treating physician will ask if the injuries came from an auto accident and hold off sending a payment request to the healthcare company.

Contact a Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

If you or a loved one was injured while riding a motorcycle in southern California, contact our motorcycle accident lawyers today for a free, confidential consultation and we will let you know your best options to obtain the maximum amount of compensation for your injuries.


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