Motorcycles are a popular way to travel, with California alone accounting for more than 850,000 registered motorcycles, but the lack of a protective frame and safety equipment exposes riders and their passengers to dangers unlike those experienced by occupants of other types of motor vehicles.
The equipment that motorcyclists rely upon to keep them safe and in control of their motorcycles (such as brakes, tires, and helmets) may actually cause an accident when designed, manufactured, or installed improperly. Attorneys at personal injury law firms like Herrig & Vogt use their experience handling and investigating motorcycle accident claims to identify defective parts or equipment that may be responsible for causing a crash.
Here are five things you should know to help you prepare to file an injury claim in the event of an accident involving defective motorcycle equipment.
Defective Equipment could Cause an Accident
Brakes, shock absorbers, and tires represent only a few of the components critical to the safe operation and control of a motorcycle. A failure of any of the following parts could cause a rider to lose control.
Here are a few examples of the systems and components of motorcycles and ways they could malfunction and cause issues for a rider:
- Brakes: Improper installation, maintenance, or repair of a motorcycle’s brake system can cause an accident to occur. Motorcycles have front and rear brakes operating independently of each other. A malfunction of either the front or rear brakes could cause a rider to lose control and crash.
- Tires: A motorcyclist can only remain in control of the vehicle if the tires are in contact with the surface of the road. If anything causes the tires to lose contact with the road, like a tire blowout or tread separation, it can cause the motorcyclist to crash.
- Suspension system: The springs and dampers of a typical motorcycle suspension system help riders to maintain control. An improperly designed or improperly installed suspension system could cause tires to leave the road surface and result in the rider losing control.
- Fuel system: Riders must sit near the fuel tank and engine of a motorcycle and fuel leaking onto hot engines could ignite and cause severe burns.
- Helmets: Data from motorcycle collisions prove how effective helmets can be in preventing deaths and head injuries. A defect in the design or manufacture of a helmet can leave a rider unprotected in the event of a crash.
Identify the party responsible
When a crash is caused by a defective product, finding the responsible party isn’t as simple as getting the ID of the other driver. In fact, about a quarter of rider deaths occur when their motorcycles collide with fixed objects rather than in a collision with another moving vehicle. This could be an indication that the rider lost control of the motorcycle as a result of a part or system failure to function as intended.
It could be a mistake to conclude that a single-vehicle accident was caused by an error made by the rider of a motorcycle. Depending upon the facts, the party responsible for designing, manufacturing, selling, or repairing the motorcycle might be liable for the accident and the injuries suffered by the rider.
Proving liability when a product is at fault
Claims for damages resulting from motorcycle accidents usually rely upon proving that the liable party was negligent. Proving that the manufacturer of part of the manufacturer of the motorcycle was negligent could be a very difficult task. So, the law allows someone injured because of a defective part to rely upon strict liability to hold the manufacturer of a defective product responsible.
Proving strict liability in a motorcycle accident case involving a defective product requires evidence establishing the following:
- The rider operated the motorcycle as the manufacturer intended.
- The motorcycle failed to operate in a safe manner even though the rider rode it as intended by the manufacturer.
- No changes or alterations were made to the motorcycle after it was manufactured.
Essentially, the evidence in a product liability must prove the defect caused the vehicle to be inherently dangerous.
Preserving evidence in product liability claims
A defective product or design may cause even the most skilled motorcycle rider to lose control and crash. If you are involved in a motorcycle accident that you suspect was caused by a defective part or faulty equipment, you can help your personal injury lawyer by providing as much information about the crash as possible. Preserving the damaged motorcycle to make it available for inspection can be essential in identifying the cause of the crash. In addition, it is crucial to maintain any records related to the treatment of your injury, as well as any photos or collision reports that were taken at the time of the incident.
Obtain representation from a skilled motorcycle accident lawyer
Choose a personal injury attorney with extensive motorcycle accident experience to pursue your claim for compensation. It takes skill, knowledge, and an understanding of the causes of motorcycle accidents to identify and prove a defective product as being at fault.