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When Is a Motorcycle Accident a Products Liability Case?

Any vehicle accident has numerous potential causes, from human error to road conditions to mechanical defect. We’ve heard a great deal in the last few years about faulty GM ignition switches and Toyota accelerator pedals that caused several car accidents and more than a dozen deaths. Those accidents were originally blamed on driver error, but a thorough investigation uncovered the mechanical defects that were truly responsible. It is also possible for a defect in a motorcycle to cause an accident or for a failure of the rider’s protective equipment to make injuries worse than they had to be. When a bike, a helmet or an armored jacket fails to perform at an acceptable standard, the rider has grounds for a products liability lawsuit.

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that Milwaukee-based Harley-Davidson has issued recalls affecting 210,000 bikes in 2014 and 312,000 by October of 2015. Problems cited included a faulty cylinder that could prevent the clutch from disengaging, a defective fuel-pump seal, and a clasp that could allow saddlebags to fly off the back of the bike, which may have contributed to 35 accidents and six minor injuries.

Common problems with motorcycle design and manufacture include:

  • Brakes
  • Tires/wheels
  • Fuel lines and gas tanks
  • Engines

Problems can also arise with protective equipment. To be effective, helmets must meet the design and safety specifications set forth by the U.S. Department of Transportation. Helmets that do not offer sufficient protection expose the rider to the danger of catastrophic brain injury. Faulty chin straps may allow the helmet to fly off, leaving the head unguarded. Companies can also face products liability if they label helmets DOT-approved when they do not meet National Highway Traffic Safety Administration standards.  

If you or a loved one suffered serious injury because of a defect in a motorcycle or protective equipment, our firm is here to help. Call Marcari, Russotto, Spencer & Balaban today at (888) 351-1038 or contact our law firm online.

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