Unmarried Couples on Motorcycles: What Are Your Rights?
POSTED BY Scott O’Sullivan
September 4, 2019
Motorcycle AccidentsMotorcycle Insurance
As a motorcycle accident lawyer in Denver, I have seen some very scary, tragic outcomes after motorcycle accidents in the Denver area. These outcomes, which generally involve serious injuries or fatalities, leave victims and their family members completely overwhelmed by grief, pain and financial fears.
Recently, I met with the girlfriend of a biker who was hit by a car. She was on the back of his bike and she was seriously injured, as was he. Because they weren’t married, they had a lot of confusion about what they could expect from insurance. The truth is this: insurance is ALWAYS confusing, but in the case of unmarried couples, it can get even murkier.
Therefore, I thought I’d share some typical scenarios involving couples on motorcycles, as well as some real-life stories below. Always remember: It is free to speak with a personal injury attorney about your Colorado accident to see if you can make an insurance claim.
Couples on Motorcycles: What Are Your Rights?
There are three typical scenarios involving couples and motorcycle accidents. (Generally, the man is driving the motorcycle with his wife/girlfriend riding in back, so that is how I’ve written these scenarios. I am fully aware that there are many female bikers who are also victims of motorcycle accidents.)
The accident is his fault and you’re not married: If you’re not married and you are riding on the back of your boyfriend’s bike and he causes an accident, you have a right to make a claim against him for liability. I am NOT suggesting that this motorcycle accident is the end of your relationship because you’re suing him… you’re actually making a claim against his insurance company. (Make sure he has the right insurance before you ever get on his bike!)
The accident is his fault and you are married: If you are married, riding on the back of your husband’s bike, and he causes a motorcycle accident, you both better have great healthcare coverage and disability insurance because you cannot sue a spouse for insurance coverage.
The accident is someone else’s fault and you’re not married: If you’re on the back of your boyfriend’s bike and someone else causes an accident that injures you, you have three “buckets” to make claims against, in this order: a) the at-fault driver, b) your boyfriend’s Uninsured Motorist coverage (UIM), and c) your own UIM.
Last year, an unmarried couple was riding on a motorcycle when they were hit by an oncoming vehicle. Both of them ended up in the hospital with injuries. Here are the ways that the couple is covered after this accident:
Both of the victims can make separate claims against the at-fault driver. He had policy limits of $100,000.
The boyfriend can also make a claim against his UIM. He had policy limits of $50,000.
The girlfriend can also make a claim against the boyfriend’s UIM as well as her own. She had policy limits of $250,000.
This means the boyfriend will receive $150,000 and the girlfriend will receive $400,000! This case proves the value of getting as much UIM coverage as you can afford. (I recommend a minimum of $250,000.)
Again, I am not suggesting that you and your boyfriend get into a legal fight with each other. Not at all! This is about insurance claims; not about taking money away from someone you love. The whole reason we buy insurance is to protect ourselves when something goes wrong and motorcycle accidents can cause a lot of financial hardship. You should use all of the insurance available to you. Consult with a Denver motorcycle lawyer to find out exactly where those “buckets” exist.
Unmarried Couples on Motorcycles: True Stories
A couple of summers ago, I had two cases that broke my heart. In both cases, a girl who had just met a man with a motorcycle, got on the back of his bike and they ended up in accidents caused by the biker. In both cases, the girls were wearing shorts and the accidents degloved their legs and arms. (That is as gruesome as it sounds.) Because the bikers caused the accidents, the girls made claims against the bikers’ insurance companies. Sadly, the women did not also have their own UIM insurance, which would have provided them with significant financial support as they healed from their injuries.
Never, ever get on the back of a motorcycle without checking the biker’s insurance and making sure you’re covered with UIM!
In another case, a friend of mine and her common-law husband got on their motorcycle to watch the 2017 eclipse in Wyoming. He ended up getting killed in an accident that wasn’t his fault; she was not on the bike at the time, thank goodness. Because we could prove that they were common-law married, she was able to use her UIM coverage to help cover costs from the accident, as well as the pain, financial loss and suffering she experienced after his death.
If you frequently ride on the back of a motorcycle, contact me for a free insurance review! I can quickly make sure that you are covered properly. Call or text me at 303-388-5304.