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Motorcycle Sidecar Passenger Rules

What Are the Rules for Riding on a Motorcycle Sidecar? Insight From the Best Motorcycle Accident Injury Attorneys

Typically, sidecars are one-wheeled passenger seats that are attached to either a motorcycle, scooter, or bike. Motorcycle sidecars have fallen in and out of popularity since the early 1900s. Most of these one-wheeled fixtures can be added to a vehicle and are sometimes called a combination, outfit, rig, or hack.

Due to the fact that the accessory fluctuates in demand, the laws differ per state. Before purchasing a sidecar, it is important to know about the legality in your state and the liability you may incur in case of an accident. West Coast Trial Lawyers practice California motorcycle law and can always advise you in case of a motorcycle accident.

A Class C Driver License

The type of vehicle you drive may require a specialty license. This is sometimes based on the weight and power of the vehicle, or whether the vehicle is used for commercial services. Three-wheeled vehicles or vehicles with an attacked sidecar require a Class C driver license per CVC 12804.9

A Class C driver’s license is the most common type of driver’s license in the United States. Having a Class C non-commercial license allows you to drive: 

  • Motorized scooters 
  • A 2-axle vehicle with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,000 lbs 
  • 3-axle vehicle weighing 6,000 pounds or less 
  • A housecar 40 feet or less

In order to obtain a Class C non-commercial driver’s license, California law requires the following: 

  • You must be 18 years old or older to become a professional driver 
  • You must also obtain a commercial driver’s license to drive a truck or to become a bus driver  
  • In order to transport materials across the state lines, you must be at least 21 years old

Riding With A Sidecar

Driving a motorcycle with a sidecar is a lot different than driving without one mainly because it changes the effect of leaning. Bikes with sidecars are generally safe because they add more balance to the cycle, so long as the vehicle is made to do so. Motorcycles with sidecars tend to drive in straight lines while vehicles without one tend to have more flexibility. 

Driving with a sidecar takes a bit of practice as with certain turns and angles the compact attachment may rise off the floor. However, generally speaking, passengers enjoy sidecars because of the lower center of balance and unobstructed view. Each passenger should be aware that the sidecar may bounce up and down as it travels down the road.

Available Damages

Accidents happen. If you were injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to compensation for your losses. Below is a brief explanation of damages. Damages are a type of monetary award that is determined by a court of law to help compensate an aggrieved individual for any losses or injuries sustained as a result of someone’s negligence.

Economic Damages

Economic damages are intended to compensate a plaintiff for losses that a dollar amount can readily be attached to. Economic damages are calculated by determining the amount of out of pocket losses an aggrieved individual has or will expect to incur as a result of their injuries. 

A few examples of economic losses include:

  • Loss of Earning Capacity
  • Medical Bills
  • Lost Wages

Non-Economic Damages

Non-economic damages are essentially intended to cover losses that are thought of as subjective and will not necessarily cover out of pocket losses. Non-economic damages may include compensation for:

  • Emotional Distress
  • Pain and Suffering
  • Loss  of Enjoyment of Life
  • Other Non-Economic Damanges

Punitive Damages

The third type of damages a California court may award are known as punitive damages. Punitive damages are intended as punishment and are only awarded when a defendant’s behavior is especially harmful. Punitive damages are relatively rare and in fact are only incorporated in 5% of all verdicts.

Furthermore, there is no real set standard for calculating and awarding punitive damages. Punitive damages are awarded at the court’s discretion and will vary depending on the specific circumstances of a case.

West Coast Trial Lawyers Can Advise You In Your Motorcycle Case

If you have sustained injuries in the city of Los Angeles as a result of a motorcycle accident, an attorney at our firm can help you recover financial compensation for the losses you have suffered, including medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering. Call West Coast Trial Lawyers today at (213) 927-3700 or email [email protected] to schedule a free consultation with our experienced, caring, and compassionate legal team.


If you have been injured in an accident, you can count on the legal team at West Coast Trial Lawyers to fight for your rights every step of the way. Contact us today to schedule your free case evaluation with a personal injury attorney.
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