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New Jersey Motorcycle Passenger Accident Attorneys

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Compassionate Representation for Motorcycle Riders

Motorcyclists are some of the most exposed groups on the road, especially on the heavily trafficked streets of New Jersey. When an accident occurs, they can suffer serious trauma, from spinal cord damage to brain injuries. The same goes for motorcycle passengers, whether they are seated on the back of a bike or in a side-car, who have almost no control over the events of an accident.

If you were a passenger in a motorcycle accident and someone else caused your injuries, you deserve fair representation in an insurance claim against any and all liable parties. Contact the New Jersey motorcycle accident attorneys at Lependorf and Silverstein, P.C. by calling (609) 240-0040 to learn about your rights to compensation.

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How a Passenger Is Injured in a Motorcycle Accident

After a collision, a motorcycle passenger can slide off a bike, be thrown from it, or be crushed underneath it. The resulting injuries can be life-changing and extremely costly. These injuries can occur due to:

Rear-end collisions: Drivers who are distracted, fatigued, or driving under the influence can fail to brake in time for an oncoming stop or drive at dangerous speeds, resulting in them colliding with a motorcycle in front of them. The resulting impact can easily throw the riders off the bike and into the roadway.

Side-swipes: Other drivers have to be keenly aware of their blind spots and must be careful when merging lanes. If not, they can easily side-swipe a motorcycle, causing the rider and passenger to swerve off the road, fall off the bike, or become crushed against another vehicle.

Head-on collisions: If a car swerves across the center lanes, they can easily crash into oncoming motorcyclists or cause them to veer off the road to avoid a crash.

Underrides: Large trucks are often raised up higher than most vehicles and, if they do not carefully merge lanes, they can side-swipe a motorcyclist and cause them to slide underneath the vehicle. Situations like this are often fatal.

Left-hand turns: Left-hand turns are notorious for causing serious accidents. Cars can easily turn in front of oncoming traffic or T-bone a motorcycle if they misjudge the speed of the other vehicle, exit a turn slowly, or turn too quickly.

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Who Is Responsible for Your Injuries?

Any one of these accidents can leave you with multiple catastrophic injuries and wondering who is liable for them. As a passenger in a motorcycle accident, you can pursue a claim from the following parties:

Another driver or drivers: If another driver acted negligently, such as by speeding, drinking and driving, or falling asleep at the wheel, and crashes into the motorcycle you are riding on, they would be liable for the injuries you sustained. In addition, if multiple drivers were careless and contributed to your accident, your claim could be against all of them or whoever holds the most liability.

The person controlling the motorcycle: While it may be difficult to accept, the person controlling the motorcycle can be at fault for your injuries. Before you say, “I don’t want to sue my friend,” remember that they are required to have an auto insurance policy and you are protected under its coverage. As a result, when you file a claim, you would be filing it with the insurance company, not the rider specifically.

Mechanics or auto manufacturers: Sometimes, an accident is not completely the fault of the drivers or riders involved. The machinery behind our personal vehicles are complicated and require routine maintenance to ensure they function properly. If a mechanic is negligent in repairing a motorcycle’s brakes or the manufacturer knew about a design defect that contributes to your injuries, they can be held at fault for any accidents they cause.

Your own auto policy: In hit and run accidents, it may be difficult to pursue a personal injury claim if the other driver is never caught. When this occurs, you may be able to file an uninsured motorist claim if it is a part of your auto insurance policy. In this scenario, your insurance company will stand in place for the at-fault driver and can cover the costs of damages up to your policy’s limited.

Throughout all of this, you must remember that New Jersey is governed by comparative negligence laws. This means that your right to compensation is limited based on how much influence you have over an accident. For the person controlling the motorcycle, this means that if they were speeding, lane-splitting, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, they could be considered partially at fault for their injuries, even if another driver hit them. For passengers, this also means that your actions can limit your ability to receive compensation. If a jury finds that you are 50% or more at fault for the accident, such as by distracting the person controlling the motorcycle, you could be barred from receiving any compensation in the state of New Jersey.

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Rules for Motorcycle Passengers

While motorcycle passengers are owed a duty of care from other riders and drivers, you are also responsible for obeying traffic laws and ensuring you are as safe as possible when on the road. To avoid an accident and liability, motorcycle passengers should:

  • Avoid distracting the rider, either physically or by talking
  • Avoid leaning too far forward against the rider
  • Avoid sitting too far back and shifting the weight of the bike
  • Be aware of how a motorcycle operates and how to handle turns, stops, and accelerations
  • Wear the proper protective clothing, including a helmet and padded clothing
  • Secure all personal items in closed pockets
  • Keep both feet on the pegs to avoid falling off of the motorcycle
  • Only get on a motorcycle with a legally certified rider who is capable of riding safely

When a passenger breaks these rules or contributes in any other way to an accident, such as by distracting another driver, they can be held partially liable for any accidents and/or injuries they cause. However, even if you are partially liable, that does not mean you should be completely barred from pursuing damages.

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Advocating Against Motorcycle Bias

Motorcycle riders are often maligned in the media and by public institutions. Riders may be seen as outlaws or dangerous individuals, thus limiting their right to compensation. But at Lependorf & Silverstein, P.C., our attorneys hold no such biases. We believe that you deserve fair representation in a personal injury claim no matter what vehicle you are riding on – be it a bicycle or motorcycle. If you suffered a serious injury at another’s hands as a motorcycle passenger, you deserve fair and proper compensation. Contact our New Jersey motorcycle accident attorneys to secure sound legal aid by calling (609) 240-0040.

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The firm’s principals, Gabriel R. Lependorf and David E. Silverstein, have each been representing injured victims in the State of New Jersey for over twenty five years.

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