Motorcycle enthusiasts are bound to give a wide range of answers when asked what they love most about riding a motorcycle. From the freedom of the open road to the strong sense of camaraderie to the connection to the outside world, there is nothing quite like riding a motorcycle. However, when a rider is involved in a motorcycle accident, they are likely to suffer severe, often fatal injuries because there is nothing protecting them from the force of the impact. In fact, close to 80 percent of motorcyclists who are involved in a collision are seriously injured or killed. Whereas some accidents are caused by driver negligence, others are caused by defective motorcycle parts. If a motorcyclist is seriously injured in an accident caused by a defective part, a catastrophic injury lawyer will work closely with the victim to determine who is liable for the accident and ensure that they receive the financial compensation they deserve.
There are over 800,000 registered motorcycles in the state of California alone. This is largely because California has the most roads listed on the Top 100 Motorcycle Roads on motorcycleroads.com. Unfortunately, this also means that California has more motorcycle accidents than any other state. The counties that have had the most motorcycle accidents include Los Angeles County, San Diego County, Orange County, Riverside County, and San Bernardino County. Many of these accidents caused the motorcycle rider to suffer permanent brain injuries and spinal cord injuries that resulted in paralysis. In most cases, the severity of the injuries was associated with the motorcycle’s engine size. The larger the engine, the faster the motorcyclist was likely to travel, which had a direct impact on the severity of the injuries.
What are the Most Common Motorcycle Defects?
To run properly, all the moving parts of a motorcycle must be in good working order. If there is a defective part, the motorcycle may not be safe to operate. Defects can occur during the manufacturing process, the design process, or in the production phase. Regardless of when the defect occurs, it can increase the risk of serious or fatal injuries if the motorcycle rider is in an accident. The following are examples of common motorcycle defects:
- Defects in the frame of the motorcycle: A motorcycle can crack if the frame cannot withstand the typical riding conditions. Frame defects can also affect other parts of the motorcycle over time.
- Engine defects: This can cause the motorcycle to break down unexpectedly, which can be extremely dangerous if it happens on a busy highway.
- Defective fuel tank: If the fuel tank is defective, it can lead to gas leaks and motorcycle fires. Oftentimes, motorcyclists are not aware of the defect until after a devastating accident or fire has occurred.
- Defective brakes: When the motorcycle brakes are not functioning properly, the rider is unable to slow down or stop, which can be extremely dangerous, particularly if this occurs on a busy highway when the rider is traveling at a high speed.
- Defective wheels or tires: These can cause the rider to become unstable and swerve into other lanes of traffic. They can also cause the motorcycle to skid while slowing down.
- Defective handlebars: A motorcycle’s handlebars are essential for steering and maintaining control of the vehicle. When they are defective, the motorcycle can become wobbly and make it difficult for the rider to avoid an accident.
- Overall design defects: A motorcycle that has an unreasonable design can be very dangerous. Manufacturers must take the necessary steps to avoid the hazards created by design defects.
The following are additional examples of motorcycle defects that can be extremely dangerous:
- Improper assembly of the motorcycle at the factory
- Defective chain, pedals, or toe clips
- Defective transmissions and clutches
- Lighting and signaling issues
- Defective footrests
- Pedal defects
- Defective steering mechanisms
In addition to the motorcycle itself, helmets and other protective gear may be defective. This can increase the severity of an injury or even result in a fatality. For example, if a motorcyclist’s helmet is defective, an injury that would otherwise be relatively minor, such as a concussion, could be extremely serious or even fatal if it causes a traumatic brain injury or a brain bleed.
Who is Liable for a Motorcycle Accident Caused by a Defective Part?
There are a number of parties who may be held liable for an accident caused by a defective motorcycle part. Liability will depend on whether the defect occurred during the design process, the manufacturing process, or if the motorcycle was damaged in the showroom. A design defect is particularly dangerous because it affects the entire product line, whereas a manufacturing defect may affect only one part. A skilled catastrophic injury lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation to determine where the defect occurred so that the negligent party can be held liable.
What are the Most Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries?
When the occupant of a passenger vehicle is involved in a car accident, he or she is protected by the frame of the vehicle. In addition, the seat belts, airbags, and other safety technology provide additional protection that is often extremely effective at protecting the vehicle occupants from serious injuries. However, the only thing that protects motorcyclists in the event of an accident is their helmet and their durable clothing if they are wearing any. Unfortunately, this does not always protect motorcyclists from suffering multiple injuries and fatalities. The following are examples of some of the most commonly reported injuries from motorcycle accidents:
- Road rash: This occurs when a rider slides or is dragged across the road after being thrown from the motorcycle. This can range from minor scrapes to a serious injury that required immediate medical attention. More severe forms of road rash are susceptible to serious infections and scarring.
- Broken bones and fractures: When a motorcyclist is hit by a car or crashes in an effort to avoid another vehicle, he or she can suffer broken arms, wrists, legs, and other bones from the force of impact from falling.
- Lower extremity injuries: According to a study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), lower extremity injuries are more common than any other type of motorcycle injuries, and leg injuries are the most common lower extremity injury.
- Internal injuries: The blunt force trauma associated with a motorcycle accident, including a blow from something hard or a penetration from something sharp, can cause internal bleeding and serious damage to internal organs.
- Spinal cord injuries: The impact of a collision can cause serious spinal injuries that often result in permanent paralysis, including paraplegia and quadriplegia.
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBI): Results from an NHTSA study including 104,472 motorcyclists found that 21 percent of riders not wearing a helmet suffered TBIs compared with 15 percent of helmeted riders.
What can I Do to Prevent Injuries Related to a Defective Part?
Motorcyclists can protect themselves and reduce the severity of an injury caused by a defective part by keeping the following safety measures in mind at all times:
- Wear the appropriate safety gear: Motorcyclists are required by law to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle. This is the most important step riders can take to protect their head, face, and brain from the devastating impact of an accident. Other safety gear that provides effective protection includes long pants, sturdy boots, non-flammable jackets, and gloves.
- Check for product recalls: The NHTSA lists all product recalls on their website. The motorcycle manufacturer will also inform consumers about a recalled model. When a defective part has been recalled, the cost to repair or replace the part is covered by the manufacturer.
- Make sure the motorcycle is properly maintained: If a motorcycle has a defective part that is undetected, it can cause the vehicle to become unsafe over time. Motorcycle owners who bring their bike to a skilled mechanic regularly for maintenance are more likely to spot these problems before they become dangerous.
What Damages May I Receive if I Am Injured in a Motorcycle Accident?
Motorcycle accidents that are caused by defective parts often lead to serious injuries and fatalities. If negligence was involved, the injured victim will be eligible for the following damages:
- Medical expenses associated with the accident
- Funeral expenses if the accident resulted in a fatality
- Lost income
- Loss of future earning potential
- Rehabilitation costs
- Long-term or permanent disability
- Loss of consortium
- Pain and suffering
Los Angeles Products Liability Lawyers at ACTS Law Seek Justice for Victims of Motorcycle Accidents
If you or a loved one was seriously injured in a motorcycle accident that was caused by a defective part, you are urged to contact the Los Angeles products liability lawyers at ACTS Law at your earliest convenience. We will conduct a thorough investigation into the details of the accident and determine who is liable for your injuries. Our dedicated legal team is committed to securing the financial compensation you deserve for your injuries and we will not stop fighting for you until we have your complete satisfaction. To schedule a free, confidential consultation, call us today at 833-ACTS-LAWopens phone dialer or contact us online.
With offices located in Los Angeles and San Diego, we serve clients throughout Southern California.