Most bikes will fit two people comfortably, and many motorcyclists ride with a passenger. When a motorcycle gets into an accident, the passenger is at risk for serious injury as well.

Just because you know the driver doesn’t mean their insurer or the insurer of the at-fault driver shouldn’t compensate you. Know your options. Call us today for a free consultation.

The motorcycle accident attorneys at the Law Offices of Steers & Associates believe that every motorist is entitled to their share of the road, safely and enjoyably.

Causes of Motorcycle Passenger Injuries

According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a passenger of a motorcycle is more likely to be seriously injured or killed in an accident than are passengers of cars. The reason for this is fairly obvious. The occupants of a passenger vehicle like a car or SUV are protected by the vehicle whereas those on a bike have little protection. In another study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the lighter of the vehicle, the more likely the danger of fatality for driver and passenger.

Street motorcycles weigh from 250 to 500 lbs, and cars weigh over 10 times that. So when a car and a motorcycle collide, those on the bike are at a serious disadvantage. This puts the motorcycle passenger at greater risk as well.

Motorcycle Passengers and Risks

Further, motorcycle passengers have a much higher rate of traumatic brain injuries compared to the operator of the bike (riders) according to research done by the Indiana University School of Medicine in Indianapolis. The study showed that even when the passenger was wearing a helmet, he or she was at greater risk of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) than the rider wearing a helmet, as only 57% of passengers had helmets compared to 66% of riders.

This is because a passenger is less likely to wear helmets because few people carry helmets with them in anticipation that they will be wearing a bike. Sometimes if the bike rider has a helmet, he or she might give it to the passenger, but many times that doesn’t happen. Some riders also carry an extra bike helmet, but not all do.

Why are Passengers Morel Likely to be Injured?

Researchers of the Indiana University study concluded that the rider is somewhat protected by the handle bars and the front windshield when the bike collides with a car. The passenger is more likely to be ejected than the rider thus putting him at more risk of injury.

Riders are also more aware of what’s ahead of them and are able to get a tight grip on the handle bars thus reducing the risk of an ejection.

Impairment plays a significant role in the likelihood of a motorcycle crash, and when both the passenger and the rider are impaired, the rate of helmet use goes down to 49% for the rider and 42% for the passenger.

Another reason is that many riders who ride often are more likely to wear clothes covering exposed skin whereas passengers may not be dressed for the ride. This creates a significant higher risk of severe road rash for the passenger.

Types if Injuries Common to Passenger of Motorcycles

  • Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Broken bones (facial, wrists, legs and ribs)
  • Road Rash
  • Deep Bruises
  • Thoracic Neck Injury (less significant risk for passenger, but still common)

What can be Done?

The majority of the prevention of passenger deaths and injuries falls on the experienced bike rider. The rider should already be aware how a bike handles and what are the do’s and don’ts for the passenger. The rider can also insist on a helmet or proper attire for the passenger.

Some tips for both rider and passenger are:

Don’t ride without helmet: Some riders refuse to wear helmets, and that’s their choice, but don’t make that choice for the passenger. Remember the passenger is at greater risk of death and injury including TBI.

Educate the passenger:

  • How to hold on
  • Don’t try to turn or lean, allow the rider to do that
  • Don’t be afraid to get rider’s attention if feeling uncomfortable

Cover up: Discuss proper attire and risk of skin exposed for passenger

Foot Rests: Keep feet on foot rests and stay clear of muffler

Impairment: Though drinking and riding is not as much of a crime, it still puts the passenger at risk. Also, as a passenger, you should never get on a bike with an impaired driver.

What if I’m Injured as a Motorcycle Passenger?

If you are injured in a motorcycle accident, you need to talk to an attorney who is familiar with motorcycle rider and passenger laws. When a passenger is injured due to the other driver’s negligence, then that person’s insurance will cover the losses. However, if the at-fault person is the rider, then the passenger might have to make a claim against the rider.

Liability law can be a bit complicated, so call the attorney’s at Steers and Associates to talk to someone about your injuries and financial losses due to an accident.