Sometimes, an accident or injury is caused by a problem with the motorcycle itself. For example, some lawsuits have claimed that certain motorcycles are defective because they "wobble" when driven at high speeds, causing accidents. If the motorcycle or motorcycle part is defective, you might have a product liability claim. (To learn more about defective product claims involving motorcycles and other vehicles, see Nolo's article Product Liability Claims Involving Defective Cars.)
Motorcycle defective product claims come in two varieties:
Defectively manufactured motorcycles or parts. This type of claim involves motorcycles or motorcycle parts that have been improperly manufactured in some way. This may be the result of an error at the manufacturing facility where the motorcycle or part was made, or a problem that occurs during shipping or at the dealership or supply store.
Motorcycles with an unreasonably dangerous design. This category of claims involves motorcycles or parts that, although properly manufactured, have an unreasonably dangerous design that results in injury or other damages.
In some cases, the defective motorcycle or part is the subject of a safety recall. Safety recalls may be initiated by the manufacturer or required by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In the event of a safety recall, the manufacturer must take specific steps to notify motorcycle owners and then provide a remedy -- usually a repair, repurchase, or replacement of the vehicle. (To learn more about safety recalls, the duties of the manufacturer, and what remedies are available, see Nolo's article Safety Recalls for Cars and Motorcycles.)
If you are in a motorcycle accident, what you do immediately after and in the days following the accident can make a big difference in your ability to recover for injuries and other losses.
Take notes. As soon as your head is clear, write down everything you can remember about the accident: what happened, the time, the weather, people present, and every single detail you can think of.
Document injuries and losses. The best way to document injuries is by reporting them to a medical provider. But it's also important to keep a log of your injuries, pain, treatments, loss of sleep, or other problems caused by the accident. And take photographs of all injuries as soon as possible.
Record conversations. It is equally important to write down the time, place, date, people present, and content of every conversation you have regarding the accident.
Return to the accident scene. If possible, return to the scene of the accident, survey the scene, and look for evidence. With a clear head, more time, and different perspective you may notice something important that escaped you on the day of the accident.
Take photographs. Take photographs of the scene from many different angles. It's best to photograph the scene at the same time and day of the week that the accident took place.
Locate witnesses. Contact witnesses as soon as you can so that you can get their story while it is fresh.
Motorcycle accident claims can be complicated and might require advice or representation from a lawyer.
For help on choosing a good personal injury attorney, read Nolo's article Finding a Personal Injury Lawyer. Or, you can go to Nolo's Lawyer Directory for a list of personal injury attorneys in your geographical area (click on the "Types of Cases" and "Work History" tabs to learn about a particular lawyer's experience with motorcycle accident claims).
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