People in California often ask, from a legal standpoint, that if they could be held liable when there are injuries sustained by the passengers they were carrying on their motorcycle. This is a question, which personal injury attorneys often come across. Note that there are different provisions of California’s Vehicle Code and general laws concerning negligence coming into play when they analyze this matter. Below are some of the frequently asked questions concerning this.
Is Carrying Someone on the Back of Motorbike Legal?
As with most legal questions, the answer to also this one is – it depends. California Vehicle Code Section 27800 is the main provision mandating it is unlawful to carry someone else on a motorbike as a passenger except if the motorbike has a seat that is “securely fastened to the machine with footrests” or an attached sidecar designed for carrying passengers. Besides, the law also mandates that the passenger has to keep her or his feet on the motorcycle’s foot pegs at all times as they travel on the back of it.
Is There a Stipulated Age to Be a Motorcycle Passenger?
The starting point to answer this question is also in the California Vehicle Code 27800. If a person cannot reach its footrests, it would then be unlawful to carry that passenger on a motorcycle. Besides, the above-mentioned statute, which necessitates children aged below 8 years to ride in motor vehicles only when they are seated in “passenger restraint system meeting applicable federal motor safety standards” (that is a child safety seat). Henceforth, until he or she is eight years of age and is sufficiently tall to ride on the back of a motorcycle and reach its footrests, it would be against the law to carry him or her this way.
Does the Motorbike Passenger Also Have to Wear Helmet like the Driver Should?
To cut the long story short, Yes. The California Vehicle Code section 27803 makes it compulsory for a driver and passenger to wear it while riding upon a “motorcycle”, “motorized bicycle”, or “motor-driven cycle”. Not just that, the head protective equipment also has to conform to the minimum-stipulated safety standards set forth by the state.
Who is Liable if an Injury Happens to Motorcycle Passengers or if One of Them Gets Killed in a Collision?
This actually depends on many different factors. Naturally, if the motorcycle’s operator is carrying a person in direct violation of any law from among the ones mentioned earlier, this could possibly put them partially at fault at the least. Similarly, if he or she does not wear deliberately a helmet in direct violation of the state law, then the failed passenger may partially be liable for their own accident injuries to the extent it may have prevented severe head trauma or injury to the brain.
Going beyond only the state vehicle code rules, any such accident comprising motorcycle wrecks should be analyzed by an experienced motorcycle injury attorney to determine whether or not this incident involved negligence. California is what a motorcycle lawyer refers to as a “comparative fault state” in the US. This means a judge or jury in the US may look at the evidence concerning the incident in question and determine how exactly to apportion fault among those involved parties.
In some automobile accident cases, such as when a truck turns left and right in front of an approaching motorbike, the fault is clearly stacked against that truck’s driver. Other times, it may not necessarily be as obvious as black and white. Distances, reaction times of the automobile operator and motorcycle rider, the ability to perhaps avoid the crash, the lighting, visibility, speeds of the truck and the motorbike, and several other factors have to be examined.
Oftentimes, a skillful and experienced motorcycle lawyer will rely on experts at accident reconstruction to look at the police report, the accident scene, measurements of any skid marks and near property damage, to arrive at an opinion as to which party may have been liable for the incident. However, it is either the judge and the jury that ultimately gets to hear its evidence and such expert opinions, and make up their mind as to whether the motorbike passenger should really be entitled to damages amount, as to who has to pay it as a compensation to the victim, and what percentage of liability to parse out.
The outcome of the court or the jury’s deliberations plays the ultimate role in the kind of situations. Yet again, with the right kind of evidence and quality personal injury attorneys to represent you in the legal fight, those deliberations that materialize into decisions could just be directed into just actions in your favor rather than the at-fault party. It is best to leave that part to these professionals with years of training and experience in these matters.