Can I Sue My Friend for Crashing My Motorcycle?
Lending something as expensive as a vehicle or motorcycle to someone is never an easy decision. Although you probably trust your relative or friend enough to lend them your motorbike, there's always a risk. Motorcyclists may not be considered the ones at fault in most motorcycle accidents but the danger is possible. Your friend can end up in an accident and, even though you weren't involved, it can affect you as well.
So, what can you do in such situations? Can you sue your friend for crashing your motorcycle? The answers to these questions are more complex than you might think.
Iowa Motorcycle Insurance Laws
Every accident is different, and the circumstances can vary. So, it would be best to contact an experienced lawyer in case of a motorcycle accident. They can help you understand your legal rights and determine the best course of action.
That being said, there are some Iowa motorcycle laws to keep in mind. Iowa doesn't force all motorcycle owners to have insurance. But there is the Motor Vehicle Financial and Safety Responsibility Act that states all drivers and motorcyclists must provide proof of insurance or some other form of financial responsibility in case of a motorbike accident. If a rider can't show financial responsibility, they risk losing their license and registration.
Also, if you don't have insurance and your friend causes an accident with your motorcycle, you will have to pay for all the damages. That can be a financial disaster. So, it's in your best interest to have insurance just in case.
The minimum requirements in Iowa for liability insurance are:
● $20,000 bodily injury liability for the injury or death of one person
● $40,000 bodily injury liability for the injury or death of two or more people
● $15,000 for property damage
In general, liability insurance follows the motorbike. But some insurance companies don't allow others to drive your covered motorcycle. The insurance company would probably cover it if it were just a one-time thing. On the other hand, if your friend regularly drives your motorcycle, the chances of coverage are pretty low.
Even if your friend has their own coverage, your insurance will most likely have to pay if there's an accident. However, the driver of the motorbike must first be held legally accountable.
Each insurance company has its own guidelines on what falls under permissive use and what its policy covers. But in general, if your friend was driving with your permission, you are liable for the accident. So, your insurance will pay the other party involved in the accident.
Contrastingly, if you didn't give your friend permission to use your motorbike, they will be the ones responsible for damages. For instance, you lent them your motorbike to go to the store, but they drove it to another city. Things could get even more complicated if they didn't have a valid driver’s license or were riding under the influence. Keep in mind that although there are chances of surviving a motorcycle accident, it can still be fatal when you're not being a responsible driver?
Can You Sue Your Friend for a Motorcycle Accident?
In most cases, yes. You can sue a friend who caused the accident with your motorcycle. However, you need to understand the Iowa insurance laws to see if you have a case.
For example, if you were also on the motorbike during the collision, then it's not so simple. You can't make a liability claim against your own insurance; you need a different type of insurance for that. So, while your insurance company covers the damage your friend caused, you need to have health insurance or medical payments coverage to reimburse your medical expenses.
Still, if you decide to sue your friend personally, there are some things you should consider. For one, you will probably lose the person as your friend. Next, take their financial situation into account. Do they have the financial capacity to cover the loss?
If you sue your friend and win, but they don't have any assets, you won't collect any money. In some cases, you can ask for your friend's driver’s license to be suspended. However, that may affect your ability to recover funds.
Every accident is unique, and the rules about suing your friend can change depending on the circumstances. For this reason, you should never attempt to pursue a claim on your own. It's in your best interest to talk to experienced Des Moines motorcycle accident attorneys who understand Iowa laws and regulations.
So, contact us at Tom Fowler Law to book an appointment. We will review all the facts and help you make the right decision about pursuing a lawsuit against your friend.