Can your passenger sue your liability portion for medical coverage? - Sportbikes.net
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post #1 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-15-2007, 09:45 AM Thread Starter
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Can your passenger sue your liability portion for medical coverage?

As many riders dont know, their full coverage insurance RARELY covers medical insurance for riders. The medical portion of your insurance binder covers the person you hit, not yourself. This obviously extends to the person on the back of your bike as well.

Do any of you have experience with going down and having a passenger? Any idea if the passenger can in return sue at least the liability portion of your insurance to get some compensation for medical bills?
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post #2 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-15-2007, 09:56 AM
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I wouldn't think they can sue your liability because they were a passenger on your vehicle, but liability does cover damage to property and persons that are not you. That's a very good question.

One more reason for me not to carry passengers that are not your spouse.
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post #3 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-15-2007, 10:38 AM
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Damn right it does. But maybe we could ask this guy:
A young woman was seriously injured Saturday when the motorcycle she was riding on crashed after the male driver popped a wheelie.

Oregon State Police said Ashley Bilyeu, 18, of Lebanon was taken by air ambulance to Sacred Heart Hospital in Eugene after the crash at 4:50 p.m.

The driver, Tyler Hahnen, 21, of Sweet Home, was injured and taken to Lebanon Community Hospital. Both were wearing helmets.

Witnesses told police the Honda motorcycle was westbound on Highway 228 near milepost 20, where it passed at least one vehicle in a no-passing zone on a curve. Upon returning to its lane, the motorcycle popped a wheelie, lost control and crossed the eastbound lane where it crashed in a gravel driveway.
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post #4 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-15-2007, 11:05 AM
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If the motorcyclist was at fault in an accident resulting in injury to anyone, their liability coverage would usually pay. Check your policy carefully about passengers. There may be an exclusion to liability coverage for bike passengers because of implied consent. In that case, the injured passenger could sue you and your insurance company would rightfully say "tough luck pie face".

This is a question that each rider needs to answer with their insurance company before assuming the responsibility of a passenger. Laws vary by state and insurance companies may offer different coverage by state.

Remember that an injured person sues YOU and your insurance company decides if it was covered and only then jumps to your defense.

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Last edited by RayOSV; 07-15-2007 at 11:07 AM.
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post #5 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-15-2007, 12:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RayOSV
Remember that an injured person sues YOU and your insurance company decides if it was covered and only then jumps to your defense.
I'm not a lawyer, but as I understand insurance, Ray has hit on the key point here. Your insurance policy is basically just a contract with the insurer saying they'll cover the $$$ of your liability under conditions spelled out in the policy.

Sure, a passenger can sue the rider for damages incurred while riding pillion. If the passenger obtains judgment against the rider, it's up to the rider to pay regardless of where that money comes from, e.g. the insurer, out of pocket, mortgaging the home, any combination, you get the idea...

Additionally, and maybe this is what the OP is getting with his questions: assuming that the rider is established as liable for damages to the passenger (because naturally you can't sue a rider's insurer if you can't prove that the rider himself is liable), and if the insurer refuses to cover that liability, in that case either the rider or the passenger might sue the insurance company claiming that the damages are in fact covered under the policy and that the insurer is obligated to pay. In a sense, the rider could benefit from the legwork of the injured passenger here, but the passenger has to do what he/she has to do to be "made whole," i.e. get the money to which one is entitled.

From the rider's perspective, this suit would be an attempt to recover the damages he owes or has paid to the passenger; from the passenger's angle, this would be an attempt to obtain any damagers that were not/could not be paid by the rider. In the shoes of the passenger, you might even find yourself suing both the rider and the insurance company at the same time, depending on how things play out after the accident.

Again, IANAL, but the main thing to keep in mind in our legal system is that you can sue anyone for anything. From there, however, it's up to you to prove your case with available evidence and the letter of the law/case law. In these situations you have to weigh the potential for success of the suit, the costs of the suit, and finally the potential payout if your claim prevails.
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post #6 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-15-2007, 07:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RayOSV
If the motorcyclist was at fault in an accident resulting in injury to anyone, their liability coverage would usually pay. Check your policy carefully about passengers. There may be an exclusion to liability coverage for bike passengers because of implied consent. In that case, the injured passenger could sue you and your insurance company would rightfully say "tough luck pie face".

You really need to check individual state law in these cases. Most states regulate the insurance industry heavily. I have a hard time believing that such a provision would be upheld.

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post #7 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-15-2007, 07:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Max Deutch
You really need to check individual state law in these cases. Most states regulate the insurance industry heavily. I have a hard time believing that such a provision would be upheld.
Please look at the next paragraph in my post that you quoted where I suggested that the insurance company's coverage and state law should be well understood before carrying a passenger.

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post #8 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-15-2007, 07:29 PM
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Why would this be any different than a passenger in your car?

Liability is actually made up of two different policies, bodily injury liability, and property damage liability. Bodily injury insurance protects you from the cost of personal injury to others, and property damage insurance protects you from the cost of damage you cause to any physical property.

The limits of your policy can be used up fairly quickly in a serious accident.

Liability insurance has three numbers, like this - 25/50/10 - using New Mexico as an example of minimum required liability coverage.

First number: bodily injury liability maximum for one person injured in an accident. In this case $25,000

Second number: bodily injury liability maximum for all injuries in one accident. $50,000

Third number: property damage liability maximum for one accident. $10,000.

Quote:
Originally Posted by BaileyMoto
As many riders dont know, their full coverage insurance RARELY covers medical insurance for riders. The medical portion of your insurance binder covers the person you hit, not yourself. This obviously extends to the person on the back of your bike as well.
The medical payments coverage is a separate part of your insurance policy. This policy pays the medical bills of the covered driver, family members, and passengers when injured in an accident, regardless of who was at fault. This coverage is required in some states, but not in others. So, if you don't specifically carry this on your policy, chances are they can come after the second part of your liability coverage, if you were at fault.

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong here.

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post #9 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-15-2007, 08:12 PM
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I think that this really depends on your state laws. Here, in Kentucky, you m/c does NOT cover the driver(rider) of the bike by DOES cover the passenger. At least that is the way that Progressive Ins explained it to me. My son borrowed a bike that I own and insure, and had an accident on it, resulting in a broken bone. Progressive would not cover the medical for him, but would cover the damage to the bike. They told me that an additional policy is needed to cover the driver's medical. However, since it is very expensive, few people buy it. Passengers, and other peo[le are covered under the medical part of the policy. Another reason why you really need to have some health insurance. His health insurance through the union paid all of his medical bills. Progressive said that this was law in most states. I didn't believe it either, but I checked with some independent insurance agents i know, and they verified that it was true.
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post #10 of 10 (permalink) Old 07-15-2007, 09:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jk750
Why would this be any different than a passenger in your car?

Liability is actually made up of two different policies, bodily injury liability, and property damage liability. Bodily injury insurance protects you from the cost of personal injury to others, and property damage insurance protects you from the cost of damage you cause to any physical property.

The limits of your policy can be used up fairly quickly in a serious accident.

Liability insurance has three numbers, like this - 25/50/10 - using New Mexico as an example of minimum required liability coverage.

First number: bodily injury liability maximum for one person injured in an accident. In this case $25,000

Second number: bodily injury liability maximum for all injuries in one accident. $50,000

Third number: property damage liability maximum for one accident. $10,000.



The medical payments coverage is a separate part of your insurance policy. This policy pays the medical bills of the covered driver, family members, and passengers when injured in an accident, regardless of who was at fault. This coverage is required in some states, but not in others. So, if you don't specifically carry this on your policy, chances are they can come after the second part of your liability coverage, if you were at fault.

Someone please correct me if I'm wrong here.
You have the definition of liability correct. Medical coverage is separate and pays the medical bills of driver and passengers regardless of fault. Our son rolled his truck and his passenger ended up in the ICU. That was a big bill that easily went beyond our medical coverage, but fortunately the passenger's personal medical insurance took over and he didn't sue. Everyone turned out OK, but we sweated that one for a few years.

State Farm doesn't write medical coverage on bike policies in CA so the only recourse is for an injured passenger to sue you. Hopefully liability will then kick in, but there may actually be an exclusion for bike passengers. This is why I never ride a passenger on my bike. Too risky.

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