What if a Defect with my Motorcycle Caused Me to Have an Accident?
Motorcycle ownership is fun and often exhilarating, but the lack of protection around the rider and the need to maintain balance mean that sometimes defects, flaws and other issues can quickly lead to an accident. If the motorcycle’s brakes lock up, for example, or a tire unexpectedly blows out, the rider could quickly find themselves tangled up in traffic.
When an issue with your motorcycle leads to an accident, it is important to thoroughly investigate the crash and determine the cause. In some cases, the issue stems from a manufacturing or design defect. A defect could also have arisen as a result of negligent maintenance or repair work.
Under Florida law, each contributing party to an accident is expected to pay their fair share for damages in the event of a serious injury. If it turns out that a defective motorcycle vehicle or part was a contributing factor, then an injury victim could be entitled to compensation from the manufacturer (or other responsible parties). It is also possible that multiple parties will share fault, meaning each will pay for their own portion of the fault they contributed.
In short, these sorts of cases can become complex and require significant amounts of legal and mechanical research. Injury victims can turn to a Tampa motorcycle accident lawyer who can assist them and represent them during their case. To find out who may have contributed fault to your motorcycle crash, call Darrigo & Diaz today at (813) 774-3341 or contact us online to schedule a free case review.
Florida’s Pure Comparative Negligence System Means Each Party Pays Their Share
In the legal world, “comparative negligence” refers to the concept of comparing how much fault each party contributed in the event of a “tort” or injury. When looking at an auto accident, this can mean that several parties share responsibility for the costs of any serious injuries caused as a result of the collision.
For example, if a defect with your motorcycle was determined to be half the cause of an accident, and a negligent driver who was speeding contributed the other half, then the motorcycle manufacturer and the other driver might split the costs of your injury 50/50.
Since Florida is a pure comparative negligence state (see Florida Statutes §768.81), this ratio can be as high as 99/1. That means that the defective motorcycle manufacturer may have contributed nearly all of the fault in the situation, but the negligent driver still has to pay for their 1% contribution (presuming the injured party is willing to pursue them for that amount).
How Do I Know if a Defective Motorcycle or Defective Part Caused My Issue?
Most motorcycle issues can come down to one of four possible root causes:
- A motorcycle part or the vehicle itself was defective
- A service provider, such as a mechanic, provided negligent service
- The owner failed to provide the needed amount of care and maintenance
- The issue was caused by something unexpected that couldn’t have been predicted
If the accident and resulting injury were caused by a defect, then the injury victim can file what is known as a “products liability” claim against the manufacturer. There are two general types of defects in products liability cases:
- Design defects involve a vehicle that had an unreasonably dangerous design that was likely to cause harm to the operator or others
- Manufacturing defects involve a component that breaks unexpectedly, causing an accident and injuries
Determining if your vehicle issue involved a defect will take some persistent research and investigation. The first place to look is on vehicle recall lists and other sites that list similar issues experienced by other owners of the same vehicle model. If there is a pattern of injuries and accidents, it is likely that a root design flaw or manufacturing defect was involved in the accident. Industrial standards and other data can help establish whether the product in question was within reasonable bounds for safety and durability.
Many times, manufacturers will try to argue that the product met acceptable standards or that the owner failed to contribute the needed caution and maintenance. The question then becomes whether the product was actually defective, which will again take some amount of research and input from experienced legal and mechanical professionals. Negotiations will often come down to how much liability the manufacturer is willing to accept and how much they are willing to pay out in a settlement.
What if the Police or Someone Else Tries to Allege That I Failed to Maintain My Vehicle?
It is possible that a motorcycle issue could be caused in part or in full because of the failure of the owner to maintain it. If an underinflated tire meant that the motorcycle lacked traction, for example, the owner could be partially blamed for the accident.
The truth is that it takes a thorough investigation to determine what actually caused an accident. It is also difficult to concretely prove that a motorcycle owner failed in a specific duty of care when their vehicle breaks down. The relevant Florida law (Florida Statutes §316.610) only states that the vehicle should be generally safe before being operated. While this can mean that any neglect-related accident could be the owner’s fault, it also means that the owner can argue they took reasonable precautions and exercised the ordinary level of care expected of them. After all, many motorcycle malfunctions are difficult to predict, so the average person may not technically be at fault for something they couldn’t have reasonably prevented.
In the event that the motorcycle owner is deemed at fault, Florida’s contributory negligence rules mean that the motorcycle owner can still recover damages from any other negligent parties that contributed to the accident. The owner’s total claimable damages will be reduced by the amount of fault they personally contributed, however.
Even still, it benefits injury victims to explore every possible avenue and investigate all aspects of the accident before accepting fault. Many times, a crash situation that seemed clear-cut actually had hidden factors involved that could only be revealed through a thorough investigation, which may turn up a vehicle defect or another contributing factor not yet considered.
Speak to Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyers in Tampa
Having your motorcycle break down on you before an accident can be devastating and traumatic. However, it is important to not admit fault or immediately accept that your own failure to maintain the vehicle caused the accident. A defective part or negligent service provider may be truly to blame. Determining the exact amount of fault is important, too, since you can still recover damages from other parties even if you contributed to the accident yourself.
Overall, dealing with these types of cases on your own can be complicated and overwhelming. By working with an experienced defective motorcycle accident lawyer in Tampa, you can get to the bottom of what actually happened, who could be to blame, and who is liable for your medical bills, lost wages, and other damages.
Learn more about your case options and how cases like yours can result in compensation during your free, no-obligation case evaluation. Schedule your free appointment now when you call (813) 774-3341 or contact us online.