What should I do if I think my motorcycle has a design defect?

Because motorcycles lack the same protective enclosures and devices that other automobiles possess, they are potentially more dangerous than automobiles in allowing injuries to their operators. But how much higher is the risk when an accident occurs that was a result of a motorcycle defect?

Manufacturer's keep track of repairs on their motorcycles. Voluntary inspections are often conducted on their products to check for defects. When the manufacturer establishes a defect in a motorcycle or a component within it, the manufacturer typically conducts a product safety recall. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is a government agency that tracks many highway safety issues, such as accident statistics and safety recalls. The NHTSA can also order recalls if it discovers a motorcycle defect and it is determined to be a hazard to the driver and others on the road.

At the beginning of a safety recall, the manufacturer, by law, is required to file a public report that lists the vehicle or equipment involved in the safety recall, the specific defect or safety standard noncompliance on that vehicle, how the safety recall was determined, the solution being offered, and the recall schedule. The manufacturer should also attempt to notify each owner of a recalled vehicle individually. The repair being made is required, by federal law, to be free of cost to the vehicle owners.

Besides safety recalls, proper maintenance, and safe operation, design and assembly flaws can still contribute to a motorcycle defect accident. In these cases, the manufacturer should be held responsible for these defects. Motorcycle accidents are complex. Accidents resulting from motorcycle defects are even more complex because the investigation not only involves the accident alone, but also the design and the process of manufacturing. Proving a case involving motorcycle defects require extensive knowledge in these types of cases. The facts that must be proven are:

  • The motorcycle is defective,

  • The flaw existed prior to purchasing, and
  • The accident and injuries are a result of the defect

It may not be obvious that a motorcycle defect was the cause of an accident, or that a defect was even a contributor to an accident. When a motorcycle defect is the suspected instigator of an accident, the investigation becomes much more intense. The accident not only involves the accident itself. The investigation expands to include the design, manufacturing, and assembly of the motorcycle.

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