Your Rights when a Mechanical Failure causes a Motorcycle Accident

motorcycle accident lawyer

As motorcyclists know, your bike is an intricate part of your life. From feeling the wind in your hair to ensuring your fork oil is changed, it takes time and effort to safely enjoy your bike. Like any other vehicle, motorcycles require comprehensive annual inspections of the body, engine, and tires. But motorcycles also require you to monitor the liquid coolant, which is essential during Florida’s hot summer weather, and extensive maintenance of the fuel system, as many motorcycles still use carburetors. What happens, however, when your motorcycle experiences a mechanical failure, and you are sure you have maintained your bike in accordance with the highest standard of care?

Overview of Florida Motorcycle Law

Under Florida law,1 motorcyclists over the age of 21 have the option of forgoing protective headgear if they maintain personal injury coverage of at least $10,000. They are, however, required to wear protective eye gear. If you wear a helmet, you are actually exempt as a motorcyclist from carrying insurance,2 including personal injury, liability, and property damage coverage. Although it is always wise to carry coverage, and failure to do so can result in personal liability on your part, including a loss of your motorcycle license and registration, the freedoms associated with owning a motorcycle puts more Florida riders on the road each year. Be advised, however, that Florida law does not permit “lane splitting,” which is defined as riding a motorcycle between lanes of slowed or stopped traffic. It also does not permit “lane sharing,” which occurs when two motorcyclists ride side by side in the same lane of traffic. If you are riding through Florida, be advised that you are subject to the same rights, and regulations, as operators of traditional motor vehicles.

Common Motorcycle Maintenance Woes

Although motorcycles provide their riders with a cheaper and more fuel-efficient means of transportation, due to their open gears and design, motorcycles suffer from the following common maintenance woes:

Debris Accumulation: the accumulation of sand, dirt, and road debris on the interior of your motorcycle can cause the corrosion of certain essential components, which may cause your bike to breakdown on the road. Most motorcycle maintenance regiments include extensive cleaning of exposed components;

Poor Chain Lubrication: In order to prevent your bike’s chain from snapping or locking unexpectedly, you must ensure that your chains are constantly lubricated and free of debris. Sudden chain failure due to poor maintenance can cause major engine damage in the middle of a busy road, leading to a potentially fatal accident;

Fuel System Failure: Because many motorcycles still use carburetors, if a fuel hose is not regularly replaced and maintained, it could cause fuel to leak from the gas tank and the fuel system to fail. This might result in a sudden accident coupled by fire resulting from the exposed fuel.

As a rider, is it your responsibility to reasonably maintain your motorcycle in accordance with the standards set forth by the maker in your owner’s manual. If you fail to properly maintain your bike, then you may be held liable for an accident caused by a mechanical failure linked to failed or poor maintenance. This is especially dangerous if you are not carrying liability or personal injury insurance.

Professional, Design, or Manufacturing Failures

Most avid riders understand the dangers posed to both themselves and other drivers if they fail to properly maintain their motorcycle. As such, many motorcyclists are well versed when it comes to maintenance, and they take care to monitor and perform preventative maintenance on their bike. If you are one of these riders, and your bike still suffers mechanical failure leading to personal injuries, you may be able to hold the mechanic, manufacturer, or designer liable for your injuries.

Mechanic’s Negligence: In Florida, professional mechanics are required to perform maintenance and repair your vehicle in a workmanlike manner and in accordance with standards accepted by the industry. Failure to do so, such as misplacing an essential part, is grounds for holding a mechanic liable for your injuries;

Design Defects: If you discover that you are experiencing difficulties while riding your new motorcycle, such as instability at high but reasonable speeds, and such instability causes an accident, you may have a products liability claim against the designer for negligence;

Manufacturing or Transportation Defects: Occasionally, you may experience mechanical failure not from a faulty design, but from the use of defective parts. For example, if there was a defect in the machine that made your chain, and as such it was manufactured with a weak link that caused an accident, or certain parts were damaged in transport, you may have a claim against either a manufacturer or transport company for negligence.

Negligent design, manufacturing, and maintenance claims can be difficult to prove, as you will have the burden of showing that it was not your failure to maintain your bike that caused the accident. For this reason, it is essential that you keep all regular maintenance receipts and records, whether they are from an auto-parts store or your mechanic. Showing a court proof of adequate and regular maintenance can help shift the burden from you to the other party. Further, it is important to also use qualified mechanics trained to work on your specific type of motorcycle, as using a “backyard” mechanic, while cheaper, will not afford you the same protections under the law and will generally leave you without proper repair and maintenance records.

Contact an Experienced Tampa Bay Motorcycle Firm for Maintenance Related Accidents

If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident related to a mechanical malfunction but believe you have property maintained your bike, be sure to contact a qualified Florida law firm that understands the ins-and-outs of motorcycle maintenance. They may be able to help either reduce or eliminate your liability and help hold the responsible party liable. Contact the Dolman Law Group, your premier motorcycle accident firm in Clearwater, today at 727-451-6900 for a free, no-risk consultation. With experience handling both motorcycle accidents and products liability claims, they will advocate on behalf of your rights as a responsible rider.

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765

(727) 451-6900