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Motorcycle passenger dies in freeway collision

When Californians hear the phrase "motorcycle accident," they commonly assume that the driver of the bike was injured, perhaps seriously. But motorcycles often carry passengers, too. A recent accident on Interstate 5 in Commerce demonstrates the risks to which motorcycle passengers are often exposed, especially in a motorcycle accident.

A motorcyclist carrying a passenger was attempting to split lanes in the northbound lane of I-5 when he collided with three other vehicles. According the California Highway Patrol, one of the vehicles was towing a fifth wheel that left only a narrow space for the bike. Both the passenger and the driver were thrown from the bike. The driver suffered only minor injuries, but his passenger suffered fatal head injuries. The crash caused the freeway to be closed for about four hours.

An investigation of the accident by the California Highway Patrol is underway, but the official report on the accident has not been released. The facts known at present suggest that the driver may have been negligent in trying to pass between closely spaced vehicles. It is also possible -- but not yet confirmed -- that the driver of one or more of the other three vehicles involved in the collision may have been negligent, too. A common cause of such accidents is a sudden or unexpected or lane change or failure to yield by a vehicle that the motorcyclist is attempting to pass.

Anyone who has been injured while a passenger on a motorcycle or who has lost a loved one who was a passenger may find it helpful to understand their legal rights. This might be helpful as they evaluate whether to bring legal action against a negligent party.

Source:, "19-year-old woman killed in motorcycle crash in Commerce," April 26, 2015

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