Can I Sue My Friend for Crashing My Motorcycle?
Updated: Feb 24
Owning a motorcycle can be both exciting and dangerous. That is especially true if owners lend their motorcycles to their friends. Even if the friend is an experienced motorcycle driver, riding an unfamiliar vehicle is risky and can make them more prone to crashing it.
This, in turn, can give the owner more trouble than they bargained for. Firstly, if the friend was unlicensed, the insurance companies can use this as an excuse to pay a reduced rate. They can even go so far as to deny the claim altogether.
Secondly, motorcycle insurance differs from most standard car insurances. Therefore, the owner may not even be covered at all, if their friend was the one who was operating the vehicle when it crashed.
So, in the event that an acquaintance does end up getting in an accident, can the owner of the motorcycle sue them?
The Basics of Motorcycle Insurance
When it comes to vehicles, most people assume that insurance applies to the driver. However, that isn’t the case. Vehicle insurance always covers the machine itself, not the person operating it. Therefore, even if it’s a friend who crashed a motorcycle, the owner is still the one liable for the damage done.
If the owner has good insurance, their company will usually cover everything. This includes injuries sustained in the crash, as well as any property damages. Even if the friend was the one who is at fault in the motorcycle accident, the affected party won’t be able to sue the owner if the insurance policy covers all the damages. However, there is one exception to this rule.
In case the friend driving the motorcycle was unlicensed, the insurance company can refuse to pay out the coverage. In that case, the owner of the motorcycle will have to cover the cost out of pocket. But if the friend driving the bike has insurance of their own, it’s possible to mitigate this.
What will usually happen in such situations is that the motorcycle insurance will kick in first. If the damages end up costing more than what the insurance can cover, then the driver’s insurance can activate to cover the rest. So if the motorcycle insurance covers $100,000 out of $200,000 worth of damages, then the friend’s personal insurance can kick in to cover the rest.
However, owners can face another big issue here. What if the friend’s insurance policy isn’t big enough to cover the remaining cost? In that case, things can get complicated. For one, the affected party can sue both the owner and the friend for the remaining amount.
In such cases, the third party usually won’t care who caused the accident, even if the motorcyclist is the one at fault. Instead, their legal team will go after whoever has more assets to cover the damage. This ends up being horribly unjust for the motorcycle owner. They weren’t the ones who caused the crash in the first place.
So say the friend doesn’t have insurance or if their insurance doesn’t cover the remaining damage. Owners may then end up asking themselves—could they sue their friend for crashing their motorcycle? The answer is that it depends.
Can I Sue My Friend for Crashing My Motorcycle?
Liability lawsuits are a tricky business. In many cases, owners can pursue a claim against their friend if they were the ones who caused the accident. However, before they sue, owners should first familiarize themselves with insurance laws in their area.
For example, in most states, owners can file a lawsuit against their friend if they were the ones who caused the accident. However, this only applies if the friend was using the motorcycle without the owner’s permission. But if the friend had the owner’s permission, then the owner is legally responsible for any damages done.
In this case, it’s also important to note what counts as permission. Let’s say the owner lent the motorcycle to their friend so they can go to the store. But the friend used the motorcycle to go on a road trip to another city, where they caused the accident. In that case, the owner may have grounds for a lawsuit.
Whether or not the owner can sue will also depend on whether or not they were a passenger when the accident occurred. In most states, owners can’t make liability claims for injuries against their own policy. Insurance policies pay damages to other people involved in the accident when the policy owner was legally responsible for them.
Filing a liability case against a friend is always a tricky thing. First, the success of the suit will depend on several things — the type of insurance policy the owner has, and whether or not it can cover the damage costs. Secondly, it will also depend on the liability laws in the owner’s state.
Then there’s the emotional side of things. Is the potential payout worth losing a good friend over? These are just a few of the reasons owners need to consult with an expert before taking action. For motorcycle drivers in the Saint Louis area, Powell Law Firm is always open. With a team of motorcycle accident lawyers guiding them, owners can calmly weigh out the pros and cons of suing their friend if they crash their motorcycle.