When a passenger on a motorcycle is injured, usually in a left turn type accident, he has two possible claims: one is against the driver/operator of the motorcycle and the other is against the other driver who turned in front of the oncoming motorcycle. These types of accidents frequently occur at a traffic light when the motorcycle is in the outside lane, and is obscured by other vehicles from view by the turning driver .
If it is a one vehicle crash, then the passenger has a claim against the driver. There was a tragic story about a woman who was left for dead on the road by a motorcycle driver. Her estate would have a claim against him. The driver was sent to prison for five years.
The classic example of this type of accident is discussed in Zimmerman v Langlais. There, the minor passenger on a motorcycle was injured when the motorcycle he was a passenger on was going 50 mph in the outside lane and went through a “yellow” light at an intersection. The accident happened at night. The car driver was waiting under the light to turn left and could not see the oncoming motorcycle because it was obscured by cars in the inside lane. The car driver turned left into the motorcycle when the light turned red. The jury found the left turning driver not at fault.
The Zimmerman case is a good example of the rule that evidence of a traffic violation (running a red light) is only evidence of negligence, not negligence “per se.” So, jury could exonerate the left turning driver even though she ran a light and caused injuries. As so often happens in left turn cases, the entire blame was placed on the motorcyclist by the jury.
Insurance companies know these types of accident often happen. They sometimes exclude any claims by passengers against the driver/operator and/or the insurance company. The exclusion is not against the public policy and is therefor legitimate under Florida law.Yakelwicz v. Barnes.
My recommendation: ride with a safe driver who has plenty of insurance. If he has none, be sure to get uninsured motorists coverage. It protects you if your driver has none and is at fault. I discussed these issues in my previous blogshere.