In late July a man and woman from Wisconsin were injured when their motorcycle left the road on Interstate 90 in Billings. The man was driving when he apparently lost control of the bike. The bike overturned and the two occupants were thrown from it. No other vehicles were involved. The Montana Highway Patrol indicated it was unclear whether or not the two were wearing helmets.
Motorcycles are less stable than other vehicles, and many motorcycle accidents occur with no other vehicle involved. Yet even when only one vehicle is involved, there may still be more than one occupant. An injured passenger on a motorcycle that loses control will typically not be at fault. And like a passenger in a one-car accident, an injured motorcycle passenger in a single-vehicle accident may still be able to bring a claim against the driver of the motorcycle, if the driver’s negligence caused the crash.
Motorcyclists, like all drivers, are expected to operate their machines with care. The law defines a negligent driver as one who does not operate his or her vehicle with the level of care a reasonable person would exercise in the same circumstances. Motorcyclists should be aware of their surroundings at all times — a distracted driver is an accident waiting to happen. Motorcyclists should keep a constant lookout for other vehicles or obstructions on the road, and maintain a speed that is safe in light of road conditions, visibility and traffic.
Motorcycles can be a great way to get out and enjoy the open road here in Montana. But in an accident, riders and passengers on a motorcycle are less protected than occupants of a car or truck. Motorcyclists need to operate their bikes safely, and drivers of other vehicles need to keep their eyes open for them.
Source: Billings Gazette, “2 injured in I-90 motorcycle crash,” July 30, 2012