Motorcycle Deaths Not Always Easy to Prove

In this motorcycle death case, there is a bit of a twist relating to a defective motorcycle. This wrongful death case alleges unsafe maintenance of the bike.

This is an interesting case, and raises many legal issues; but primarily, it deals with wrongful death. It involves a 59-year-old woman killed in a motorcycle crash in 2007. She was riding across a bridge on a Harley Davidson, owned by someone else, when the bike was hit by a pick-up truck. The woman was a passenger at the time of the accident.

The truck hit the bike from behind and ejected the woman from the motorcycle. Both riders were subsequently dragged under the truck before the pick-up truck driver left the scene, leaving the woman and her husband to die by the side of the road. The driver of the truck was never found and the widower of the woman filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the owner of the borrowed motorcycle for $15,000.

The suit alleged that the bike’s owner knew that the Harley the couple borrowed from him was defective and not properly maintained. The court papers showed that the motorcycle, a 2001 Harley, was on loan to the couple at the time of the fatal crash. The husband stated that the owner failed to properly maintain the bike’s brakes and rear turning lights. It was the defective lights that allegedly prevented the pick-up truck driver from knowing that the couple was getting ready to make a right turn just prior to the fatal impact.

Wrongful death suits have different standards to meet in civil court when it comes to the burden of proof. In other words, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff, the dependants or beneficiaries of the person who died. In a wrongful death case, the plaintiff has to prove that the defendant had some type of obligation to prevent the circumstances that led to the death in question.

They must also show what damages were caused as a result of the defendant’s conduct. In this case, the plaintiff husband must show that the death of his wife was caused by the defendant not properly maintaining his motorcycle, thus causing the reasonable expectation that harm could come to whoever took a ride on the bike.

Generally speaking, there are three grounds for filing wrongful death lawsuits, and those are intentional actions, cases of negligence and strict liability. Cases involving negligence, such as this one, may allege that the defendant had a responsibility to prevent the causes that led to the death of another person and failed to do so. In this case, that may be failing to maintain the bike in a proper manner.

When the intentional actions of others are the cause for a victim’s demise, those who are left behind in the wake of the death may file a wrongful death lawsuit. In instances of strict liability, this usually implies the defendant provided a defective product that failed to meet safety standards, such as may be applicable in this case as well.

If you’ve been involved in a motorcycle crash caused by the negligence of another, contact a skilled Austin personal injury lawyer for advice. Don’t wait too long, or you may not be able to file your case due to the statute of limitations in your state.

Beverly Aylmer writes for Lee, Gober & Reyna. If you need an Austin personal injury lawyer, contact an Austin personal injury attorney from Lee, Gober & Reyna. Visit RWLeelaw.com.