Not Every Deadly Motorcycle Accident Involves Another Vehicle

Not Every Deadly Motorcycle Accident Involves Another VehicleWhile it is true that most motorcycles are involved in accidents and suffer life-threatening injuries because of other vehicles, it is also not uncommon for riders to suffer harm in single-vehicle accidents. In June 2023, the Tulsa Police Department responded to a motorcycle passenger accident close to North Trenton Avenue and East Pine Street. When it started raining, the passenger fell off the motorcycle and struck her head on the roadway. The ambulance took her to the hospital, but she passed away shortly after due to her head injuries.

We don’t know why the woman fell, but it is a stark reminder of the dangers of riding a motorcycle.

What causes single-vehicle accidents involving motorcycles?

According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), most of the time, single-vehicle motorcycle accidents occur because of operator negligence:

  • The motorcyclist was driving while drunk or intoxicated. Alcohol, marijuana, and other substances, including prescription and OTC medications, can affect an operator’s reaction time. These substances can also cause drowsiness.
  • The motorcyclist was speeding. Speeding is one of the most dangerous driving behaviors, and it may be even more dangerous on a motorcycle. Operators and passengers don’t have the same physical protections afforded by the metal frames of cars and trucks, which means they are more likely to suffer severe injuries if they are thrown from the bike. Hitting a divot in the road or hydroplaning is dangerous at low speeds; at high speeds, it can cause the operator to lose control completely.
  • The motorcyclist was distracted while driving. Another common issue among all drivers, including motorcyclists, is distracted driving. If they are not paying attention to the roadway, they may miss an important traffic sign, such as a road work ahead sign.

Of course, not all accidents are the result of negligence. Like any other vehicle, motorcycles frequently have mechanical problems. Defective tires, steering, or brakes can cause the bike to malfunction while in motion, increasing the risk of a crash. Defective helmets can leave a rider less protected than he or she thought.

I was injured as a passenger on the back of a motorcycle. Can I file a lawsuit against the operator?

If you were a passenger on the back of a motorcycle and believe that the operator’s negligence caused your accident, you may be able to file a lawsuit against them. For example, if you got on the back of a motorcycle and the operator traveled at an excessive speed, failed to negotiate a turn or simply was not paying attention, there is a good chance that you may be able to initiate a claim against their insurer.

In Oklahoma, every motorcycle operator is required to have insurance. The minimum limits for this insurance are:

  • $25,000 for bodily injury liability or death of one person
  • $50,000 for bodily injury liability or death of two or more individuals
  • $25,000 for property damage liability per accident

These limits, however, only cover the operator. This is why motorcycle insurance policies include something called Guest Passenger liability; it’s designed specifically to cover injuries for passengers. If your injuries are more severe than the operator’s limits allow for, you may need to sue the operator directly.

If you are a family member of a motorcycle passenger who died as a result of the reckless or careless behavior of the motorcycle operator, you may also be able to file a wrongful death lawsuit against the operator. In these lawsuits, you can seek compensation for medical bills, loss of earning potential, funeral costs, burial fees, pain and suffering, and more.

Can I file a claim under my own insurance if I’m hurt as a motorcycle passenger?

If you have motorcycle insurance, then you may be able to file a claim under your own policy. Every state, and oftentimes even various companies’ policies within the same state, differ on whether you can file a claim through your own car insurance if you were injured as a motorcycle passenger.  A thorough review by an experienced attorney will ensure that any and all coverage is discovered, analyzed and pursued.

What if a defective motorcycle part caused the accident?

If the crash was the result of a defective part, then operators and passengers can file a lawsuit against the manufacturer. While a product liability lawsuit differs in some respects from a general negligence action, you can seek the same damages you would in any other type of injury lawsuit.

Note, however, that these lawsuits may run into complications if the motorcycle was built with custom or aftermarket parts. There is a specific insurance policy for these parts, but not all operators have it, and it may not cover your injuries. If this is the case for you, don’t give up hope: come talk to us about what happened, so we can discuss your options moving forward.

Other potential liable parties for a single-vehicle motorcycle accident

Depending on the facts and details surrounding your Tulsa motorcycle accident, there may be several other liable parties, which include:

  • Motorcycle mechanics: If you recently took your motorcycle to a repair shop or had it inspected, and the mechanic did not identify any potential hazards (or passed the bike for inspection even with those hazards present), then he or she may share liability.
  • Motorcycle owners: If the operator didn’t own the motorcycle, then the owner may share liability. For example, if the bike was a rental but it wasn’t roadworthy, then an injured passenger could name the owner in a lawsuit.
  • Road owners/ government agencies: When a motorcyclist is operating on a road or highway, it is expected that the road will be safe and clean at all times. If there is any severe damage or debris blocking the roadway, the road owner or government agency in charge of cleaning and repairing the road may be held accountable for the accident.
  • Homeowners/other drivers: If a driver pulls out of a driveway and strikes you due to limited visibility, or if a driver causes your accident without actually hitting the motorcycle (perhaps by slamming on the brakes, causing you to swerve into another lane or off the road), then the driver may share liability.

If you were recently involved in a motorcycle accident, whether as a driver or a passenger, please do not wait any longer to reach out to the Tulsa motorcycle accident attorneys from Biby Law Firm. We know and understand the laws surrounding these types of accidents and will help you determine who is responsible for your accident, injuries, and other losses. Call or contact our office to set up your free, no-obligation case evaluation at your earliest convenience. We want to help you get the compensation you need and deserve.