Motorcycle accident claims require prompt investigation. Motorcycle riding is not without risks. It has been many years since I have ridden a motorcycle but in my younger days I had extensive experience riding motorcycles. I understand the risks. I also understand that some motorists do not maintain a proper lookout for motorcycles. My experience extends not only to the courtroom in terms of litigating motorcycle injuries but also in terms of having been a motorcyclist.
Motorcycle ridership in this country has increased dramatically over the last many years. Likewise, the number of injuries and deaths have increased. Many of these injuries and deaths are caused by unsafe bikes. That lack of safety can come in several different respects: throttle problems, helmet defects or brake system deficiencies to mention a few. With most types of motorcycle defect claims there is probably going to be a need for a riding expert to explain what happens when that type of defect exists in a bike and how it can cause the rider to lose control. In helmet defect cases the focus of the inquiry may be on the lack of proper lining in the helmet leaving part of the head unprotected or the failure of the helmet to properly protect the most vulnerable part of the skull. The mere fact that a helmet is stamped as being approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation should not be taken as a guarantee of safety. It needs to be confirmed that indeed the helmet has been approved by the federal government.
There has been some controversy over the last few years about whether or not motorcycle brakes should have antilock braking systems. Many bikes do. Data produced by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety suggests that bikes with an ABS equipped system are indeed safer than bikes without one.
Motorcycle deer collisions in the Washington Metropolitan area has taken its toll on motorcyclists. The Washington Post reports on October 9, 2012 that seven of the eight people that have been killed in collisions with deer over a three-year period in Maryland and Virginia were motorcycle riders. AAA also reports that 70 percent of deer crash fatalities involve motorcycles.
Motorcycle accidents involving deer becomes especially likely in the fall which is the mating season for the deer. During that time of the year they tend to be on the move. In the Washington Metropolitan area deer are a problem because of the lack of any predators in this area to control the population and because of general restrictions on hunting to thin the herd.
The Washington Post also reports that each year there are about 80,000 collisions with deer in the Washington region. During the year 2010 there were 403 people killed nationwide in collisions with deer. Not all of them were motorcycle riders.
Motorcyclists, aside from all of the other hazards associated with the activity, need to be especially alert in areas where deer may be lurking by the side of the road.
In handling any motorcycle accident case it is important to recognize that there is a segment of the public that views motorcyclist as high risk takers and therefore they assume the risk of motorcycle riding. That needs to be dealt with up front in terms of jury selection by identifying those people on the jury panel that are high risk takers themselves versus others who are not risk takers and then to elicit candid feelings from all of the jurors about their feelings about motorcycle riders. Having a riding expert explain the safety functions of motorcycle equipment and how the injured party complied with good riding practices is critical to the successful handling of such a case.
If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, contact us. Brien Roche has been serving the motorcycle accident litigation needs of his Fairfax, Virginia and D.C. area clients for over thirty five years.