If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident and believe that it was caused by a defect in your motorcycle’s design or in the way it was manufactured, you may have grounds for a defective product claim based on strict liability.
How is this different from a traditional motorcycle accident injury claim?
First of all, unlike a traditional accident claim in which liability only rests with the party or parties directly responsible for the accident and their insurance companies, with a defective product claim, like those that involve a defective motorcycle, liability can rest with anyone in the bike’s chain of distribution, including:
- The manufacturer;
- A manufacturer of component parts for the bike;
- A party that assembles the bike or installed components;
- The wholesaler; and
- The dealer that sold the bike to you.
In addition, in a defective product case, you generally don’t have to prove that someone was negligent and caused you to be injured. You only have to prove that you were injured and identify the defect in the product that caused your injuries. This is known as Strict Liability.
Identifying The Defect
Product defects are not always obvious and in order to identify the defect that caused your injuries, your attorney may need to subpoena documents from your motorcycle’s manufacturer, interview the motorcycle’s designers, conduct an exhaustive examination of your bike and more. If you can’t identify the defect, you may not have a case.
Sometimes, however, the defect in the product may be so obvious that you and your attorney will not have to go through the exhaustive and expensive pretrial discovery process. These are referred to as “Res Ipsa Loquitur” cases, which is Latin for “the thing speaks for itself”.
In these cases, you do not need to prove that a product is defective because it is so obvious. In other words, if a reasonable person could clearly spot the defect without any other proof, then strict liability applies.
Under strict liability, once you have documented your injuries and identified the defect, it is then the manufacturer’s burden to prove that the motorcycle wasn’t defective.
Defective Product Claims
Defective product claims can be split into three separate classes:
- Design defects
- Manufacturing defects
- Marketing defect (or failure to warn)
Design defects, as the name implies, are mistakes in the way a product was designed. For example, perhaps whoever designed the motorcycle didn’t see fit to insulate an exhaust pipe which heats up and burns you whenever you ride for a significant length of time.
A manufacturing defect can exist even when the design is not flawed. The bike’s design can be flawless, but once it is fully assembled, it can be full of defectives. For example, while your bike was being assembled, certain nuts and bolts may not have been tightened sufficiently. Now, whenever you are traveling at high speeds or on rough terrain, parts of your bike come loose and fall off.
Marketing defect (or failure to warn)
A marketing defect exists when the manufacturer fails to provide you with enough information to safely use the product and/or exaggerates its safety benefits. For example, if the manufacturer fails to warn you that the motorcycle can overheat if you ride it for more than 4 hours straight, you may have grounds for a product liability claim based on a marketing defect or failure to warn.
Defense to Strict Liability in a Defective Product Claim
Strict liability for a product’s defect is not a foregone conclusion and the manufacturer of your motorcycle may not be held strictly liable if he can prove that one of the following is true:
- The design, manufacturing, and marketing of the motorcycle were all flawless
- Your injuries are a result of your misuse or abuse of the bike.
- You were made aware of the bikes defects and/or dangers and used it anyway.
- You ignored warning labels and/or instructions.
If any of the above is shown to be true, the burden of proving strict liability will revert back to you and your attorney.
Contact a Motorcycle Accident Attorney
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury as a result of a motorcycle manufacturing, design or marketing defect, contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney at Keith Williams Law Group to discuss the circumstances of your claim.