As a personal injury lawyer who regularly handles motorcycle collision claims, I frequently confront and encounter a multitude of questions regarding California's laws on carrying passengers on motorcycles and determining legal liability for any resulting injuries. This issue involves a careful analysis of the provisions of the California Vehicle Code and general negligence laws. In the following post, I aim to provide comprehensive answers to some of the frequently asked questions on this topic.
"Is it permissible to have a passenger on the back of my motorcycle?"
As with many legal questions, the answer to this inquiry depends on a variety of factors. The primary law governing the issue is California Vehicle Code §27800, which prohibits carrying passengers on motorcycles unless certain conditions are met. These conditions include having a securely fastened seat with footrests on the motorcycle or a sidecar specifically designed for carrying passengers, and requiring the passenger to keep their feet on the foot pegs while traveling on the motorcycle.
What is the minimum age requirement in order to be a passenger on the back of a motorcycle?
To answer this question, we must start by referencing the aforementioned California Vehicle Code §27800. If a passenger is unable to reach the footrests, carrying them on the motorcycle would be considered illegal. Furthermore, according to California Vehicle Code §27360, children under the age of eight must be seated in a "passenger restraint system meeting applicable federal motor safety standards" (i.e., a child safety seat) when riding in all motor vehicles. As a result, until a child is at least eight years old and tall enough to reach the footrests while riding on the back of a motorcycle, it would be illegal to carry them on the motorcycle.
Is it mandatory for the motorcycle passenger to wear a helmet similar to the driver?
In summary, the answer is a resounding yes. California Vehicle Code §27803 requires both the driver and any passenger riding a "motorcycle," "motor-driven cycle," or "motorized bicycle" to wear a helmet. The helmets must meet the minimum safety standards specified in California Vehicle Code §27802.
Who is deemed legal responsible or liable in case of injury or fatality to a passenger on a motorcycle during a crash?
Determining legal liability in a motorcycle accident involving a passenger depends on a variety of factors. If the motorcycle operator violates any of the laws mentioned earlier, he or she may be held partially at fault. Similarly, if the passenger fails to wear a helmet, which is required by law, they may be considered partially responsible for their injuries. However, beyond the specific rules of the vehicle code, determining fault in a motor vehicle accident requires careful analysis by a qualified motorcycle injury lawyer.
In California, a comparative fault state, a judge or jury is responsible for examining and closely scrutinizing the evidence to determine how to allocate fault among all parties involved. This specific allocation of fault depends on many factors, such as distances, reaction times, the ability to avoid the collision, visibility, lighting, speeds of both the vehicles, and more. Often, motorcycle injury attorneys may employ accident reconstruction experts to examine the police report, inspect the scene, and make a determination regarding fault. Ultimately, it is the judge or jury who decides whether the motorcycle passenger is entitled to compensation, who should pay for it, and what percentage of responsibility should be assigned to each party involved.