Articles Tagged with motorcycle accidents

There is something about riding a motorcycle through the countryside, with the wind in your face, that is exhilarating. Motorcyclists say the ride feels like freedom, and they might have a point. On the other hand, freedom comes with a price, even when you are just talking about riding a motorcycle. While deaths from motorcycle accidents are declining, dropping 5% from 2017 to just under 5,000 deaths in 2018, riding a motorcycle is a highly hazardous activity, particularly compared to riding in a passenger vehicle. Riders on a motorcycle – drivers and passengers – are approximately 28 times more likely to be killed in a traffic accident than are the occupants of passenger vehicles per passenger miles driven. Only 3% of the registered motor vehicles in the U.S. – of all kinds – are motorcycles. Motorcycles account for only about .6% of vehicle miles traveled each year, and yet motorcycle riders and their passengers total about 14% of all road deaths annually.

Motorcycle Accidents are Far More Likely to End in Injuries

Federal statistics indicate that more than 80% of traffic accidents involving motorcycles lead to either the motorcycle’s driver, passenger, or both dying or being injured. In many ways, it is not a surprising statistic. There are no “minor” accidents for a motorcyclist. With only two wheels and no protective steel body around them, a traffic accident for motorcyclists virtually guarantees two things – the bike will end up sliding along the ground on its side and the motorcyclist will either be sliding along half under the bike or sliding along the ground without the bike. If the cyclist is lucky, there will not be a trip through the air before the sliding starts, and the slide will not end with a sudden impact into a stationary object. Needless to say, motorcyclists can be severely injured in an accident that leaves passenger vehicle occupants unscathed.

In October 2014, a man from McDonough, Georgia, died after his Suzuki motorcycle collided with a Toyota Prius. According to a report from the Henry Herald at the time, the man “was traveling east on Campground Road and the Prius was traveling north on Palmer Road.” The Prius then pulled out onto Campground Road and was “hit by the Suzuki.” At the time, police attributed the accident to “speed and reckless driving” on the part of the motorcyclist.

Clack v. Hasnat

The family of the motorcyclist subsequently filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the driver and owners of the Prius. The case was tried before a jury, which returned a verdict for the defense. The family then unsuccessfully moved for a new trial.

Motorcycle accidents often leave the victim with devastating injuries. So, when the accident is even partially the result of a defect in the design or production of the motorcycle itself, the manufacturer may be liable for damages under Georgia law. However, a judge or jury may decide that the motorcyclist was also partially responsible and reduce the manufacturer’s liability accordingly.

Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. v. Johns

This is precisely what happened in a recent case before the Georgia Court of Appeals, Suzuki Motor of America, Inc. v. Johns. A jury determined that the manufacturer of a motorcycle was 51% responsible for an accident that injured the plaintiff. Both sides appealed the verdict for different reasons, but the appeals court declined to second-guess the jury.

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