Determining Liability in a Defective Motorcycle Accident Claim
Usually, motorcycle accidents are caused by things like careless driving (by the biker or another motorist) or road conditions. More rarely, accidents are caused by some defect in the motorcycle or one or more of its component parts. Understanding Product Liability Law Product liability law is a branch of tort law that deals with defective products. Products can be defective in several ways:
- They can be inherently dangerous (have a dangerous design).
- They can be defectively manufactured.
- The manufacturer may fail to warn of known risks so that users can take precautions to avoid injuries.
When a motorcycle has a dangerous design, or a defect, the manufacturer may be liable for any injuries caused by accidents that result from the defect. The dealer, parts manufacturer, or others may also be liable.
Examples of Dangerous Designs
A product is inherently dangerous if it’s made in such a way that, even if it’s made “perfectly,” it’s still unreasonably risky to use. For example, the consumer advocate Ralph Nader published the famous book “Unsafe at any Speed” in 1965. In it, he accused car makers of resisting the use of safety features like seat belts, which are standard today. He also criticized the Chevy Corvair, which he called “The One-Car Accident.”
The Corvair was designed without a front stabilizer bar, to save money. It relied on an unusually high differential in the tire pressure from front to rear. If the tires were inflated equally, which was standard for all other cars at the time, the result could allegedly be a dangerous over-steering problem. Although this pressure differential was important for safety, Chevrolet failed to state this clearly to Chevy salespeople and car buyers.
Chevy also failed to tell car buyers about an at-cost option for upgraded springs, dampers, anti-roll bars, and a transverse mounted rear spring that would have increased the car’s safety. Nader’s book was inspired in part by more than 100 lawsuits related to Corvair crashes.
In the above video, we see propaganda marketing piece from Corvair in a Youtube Video. Can you think of ways that vehicle manufacturers could be sued for misrepresentation?
Defective Manufacturing and Parts
Accidents and injuries can also be caused when motorcycles are made defectively, or if the motorcycle parts are defective, or if the motorcycle is broken before it reaches the consumer. These errors may be caused during the manufacturing process, or a motorcycle may be damaged during shipping or at the dealership.
When a vehicle defect is discovered (often as the result of repeated similar accidents), the manufacturer of the defective product often issues a recall notice to consumers. For your own safety and the safety of others, it’s always a good idea to bring your motorcycle in for repairs when you get a recall notice. Failure to do so may not bar a personal injury or property damage claim related to the defect, but it may reduce the amount of your damages.
The legal doctrines of “comparative negligence” and “assumption of risk” come into play when a consumer knows about a safety problem due to a recall notice but fails to take appropriate steps to resolve it. This area of law is complex, and you should consult an experienced product liability lawyer who deals with vehicle accidents if you have questions. Where to Find Help If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident, an experienced motorcycle accident attorney can help you seek the compensation you deserve.
Requirements for Motorcycle Manufacturers – NHTSA: http://www.nhtsa.gov/cars/rules/maninfo/mcpkg002.pdf
Ralph Nader http://www.nndb.com/people/788/000023719/
Tips on Finding Motorcycle Accident Lawyer (click here.)
25 Years After Its Demise, Corvair Remains An Object Of Derision And Devotion (Read Here.)