BY GLENN C. McGOVERN
- What should I get from the driver at the scene in my motorcycle accident?
You need to get the driver’s license information, the driver’s insurance card information, the item number for the accident report, the police department’s name and address to get an accident report, and the investigating officer’s name and cell phone number and carrier of the driver. More on that below.
- How important are pictures in my motorcycle accident case?
Pictures and video are extremely important in any case but more so in a motorcycle case. Pictures and video are very powerful at trial. They help explain facts to the jury. They are highly emotional-and emotion drives up damage awards. They are very strong proof of facts. They are critical in traffic signal or road construction defect cases also. Take pictures of the drivers’ license front and back, his cell phone, the vehicles all around, the traffic signals, any injuries you have and any road defects like loose gravel, drop-offs, malfunctioning signals or any conditions that caused the crash
- How important is it I find and obtain video or the motorcycle crash?
Video is powerful visual evidence for a jury. There may be municipal or police video cameras, witness cell phone videos of the crash, or surveillance cameras at businesses near the crash location. Make a note to look around if you can to note the location of adjacent video cameras.
- What are sources of video of a motorcycle crash?
Crime cameras, business video cameras are plentiful, other witnesses may have cell phone videos and some vehicles have videos on them. You must look out for these after any crash. They can make or break a case.
- How important is a video to a jury in a motorcycle accident case?
I can tell you we do bi-weekly focus groups since 1996 and our focus groups and trials prove that any video is an overwhelming visual exhibit for a jury. It can prove liability. It drive up damages significantly. It can be emotional. And emotion drives damages. It can also sink your case. You must test every exhibit before trial with focus groups. Few attorney’s do this. It is a lot of work and takes special knowledge. My team does them all the time on all of our cases. We have successes due to this use of focus groups. I had a defective Hayabusa case with a fatal crash. The brakes and electronic were made unsafe by the dealer. I purchased an identical Hayabusa to run dyno tests and rented Texas Speedway to make tests and videos. We carefully picked two video clips to use at the jury trial after testing in focus groups. We tested the video and all the exhibits in multiple focus groups to see what worked and what did not work. I won a record 2.83 million dollar judgment in Orleans Parish Civil District Court and the video was critical. I shudder to think about how we tried cases without any focus group data. We don’t do that any more!
- How important is a animation of a medical procedure in a motorcycle case?
A medical animation is expensive but very important. It shows in a few minutes how a medical procedure is performed in layman’s terms. It can greatly increase a jury award. It can also help prove disability. It is a powerful weapon for jury trial. We always do these.
- How important is an animation showing how a motorcycle accident happened in a motorcycle accident case?
There are two types of animations for trials: 1.) A reconstruction animation and 2.) A demonstrative type animation.
Animation must be carefully done to be accurate or it may be barred from the jury by a motion in limine being granted by the judge before trial. A good animation can vividly show in layman’s language how the crash occurred. It must be tested to make sure it works. I have had to redo an animation 5 times to get one that works. If done wrong it can you’re your case. An well done animation is powerful tool that can lead to a good result at trial.
- Should I preserve my motorcycle and riding gear after my motorcycle accident?
Yes you must do so. It is necessary for an accurate accident reconstruction of the crash. It is critical in a product liability defect case.
- Why is that important I preserve evidence and the other side preserve evidence of the car that hit me in a motorcycle accident?
If anyone losses or destroys evidence it can lead to a denial of a claim based on spoliation. One has a duty to not intentionally destroy evidence in a case.
- What are black boxes on vehicles and why is that important to preserve as evidence?
Black boxes are electronic computer storage devices in all modern cars and trucks. Some motorcycles with GPS functions can also contain valuable data in a crash in its onboard computer. This electronic data can be downloaded by police or later after a crash by our experts if the car or truck is not restarted. Restarting the engine can possibly destroy and erase the data stored. This can be powerful evidence of speed, braking, seat belt use, airbag deployment times, steering and g forces.
- How many vehicle accidents are caused by distracted drivers in the U.S?
According to NHTSA and DOT published research study HS 812 381, March 2017 – In 2015, there were 3,477 people killed and an estimated additional 391,000 injured in motor vehicle crashes involving distracted drivers; 10% fatal crashes, 15% of injury crashes, and 14% of all police-reported traffic crashes were reported as distraction-affected; 9% of all drivers 15 to 19 years old involved in fatal crashes were distracted at the time of the crashes. This age group has the largest proportion of drivers who were distracted at the time of the fatal crashes; there were 551 nonoccupants (pedestrians, bicyclists, and others) killed in distraction-affected crashes.
- What is distracted driving in a motorcycle accident case?
Distraction of drivers may be from many causes including by cell phone usage, surfing social media, text messaging, dealing with the GPS, dealing with the radio and electronic control panel in the center of most dashboards, eating, putting on makeup, interaction with passengers in conversations, or sorting papers or picking up an object that falls off the seat onto the floor are all car driver distractions. Talking hands free on a phone does not make the driver not distracted. A driver talking on a cell phone’s causes the driver’s motor control to deteriorate to that of a drunk or drug impaired driver according to NHTSA studies.
- What causes distracted driving?
University of Iowa researched why talking on cell phone adversely affects driving performance . in a study in June 2017, Researchers used computerized experiments that tracked eye movements while asking subjects to answer true or false questions to mimic having a cell phone conversation or even a conversation with a passenger. Doing so caused participants to take about twice as long to direct their eyes to a new object than those who were not asked to respond. This phenomenon is referred to as “attentional disengagement.” And, the more the brain was distracted the worse participants performance became, a “snowball effect.” This makes matters worst for motorcyclists and scooter riders. Few car drivers are trained to look for motorcyclists and scooters. Fewer can judge a motorcyclists or scooter’s speed accurately. Their judgment is flawed.
- How do I prove distracted driving in my motorcycle accident case?
Sometimes (but rarely), the police will download data at the scene of the drivers cell phone. You should request this be done. This will show any web browsing on social media sites like Facebook. 39% of residents check Facebook on their phone when they wake up. (They are addicted!) If the police do not download the data, the phone records can be subpoenaed to show cell phone activity. Texts may only be stored on the actual chip on the cell phone and are only kept for a fixed length of time by the cell phone provider. Try to get the driver’s cell phone number and provider information if you can at the scene.
- What kinds of manufacturing defects can be sued for in a motorcycle accident case?
Like any mechanical vehicle, they can have defects in design or manufacture or by improper acts of maintenance by the dealer. I have seen, suspension pieces, tires and rims installed improperly and backwards. This may be the cause of a motorcycle crash. I have seen motorcycles sold with totally worn brake pads and ineffective brakes causing a death of the motorcycle rider. I have seen cases where the electronics were altered making a motorcycle unsafe and uncontrollable due to the dealer’s fault. I have seen motorcyclists seriously injured due to wobble by improper designs of certain motorcycles. (Many models of Harley-Davidson are known to be prone to violent wobble at below 65 m.p.h. with fatalities). ABS braking systems are required in Europe but not in the U.S. as of 2018. NHTSA and D.O.T. just passed regulations requiring ABS braking systems on all motorcycles in the U.S.A. Some have argued that the failure to install ABS brakes by the manufacturer is negligence by the manufacturer. There is no doubt statistically that ABS reduces motorcycle crashes. We had one case where the driver had a minimum $15,000 liability police and rear-ended a motorcycle at night in rainy conditions. The motorcycle had a brake light turn signal combination that was not D.O.T. approved and very low light output. The manufacturer had boosted the brake light was so bright they could not video it! I sued the manufacturer for failure to warn product liability. We won over $400,000 from the manufacturer. The manufacturer had no D.O.T. approval and never tested the brake light. Basically, they lied. The Lord detests liars. And so do juries!
- How do I recover from the driver who has no insurance?
This is a problem in Louisiana. 40% of the drivers have no liability insurance and yet drive on public roads. You should have Uninsured Motorists insurance coverage or UM to protect you from uninsured or underinsured motorists. UM is expensive but you and your family need this protection. A skilled motorcycle attorney will extensively investigate the crash to see if the motorcycle had a defect or a part was defective and caused the crash. This can result in a recovery even if the driver has no liability insurance. Most attorneys that don’t do a lot of motorcycle cases and don’t understand motorcycles do not carefully investigate the crash. Unfortunately most attorneys are not trained in the science of motorcycle operations. I have raced motorcycles in the U.S. and in Europe. I am a MSF Basic Motorcycle Instructor and keep my certifications up to date. Motorcycles are just as complicated as aircraft. The engineering is very complex. They are marvelous machines!
- How much liability insurance does a driver had to have in Louisiana?
Unfortunately a driver is only required to carry $ 15,000 in liability limits coverage in Louisiana. Most motorcycle crashes involve serious injuries or death with high ambulance and medical expenses. $15,000 is totally inadequate. That is why you need to carry Uninsured Motorists Coverage.
There is so much to learn about motorcycle crashes and litigation. I hope you learned a few tips to help you if you are unfortunate enough to be hit by a car or truck that fails to yield. If you have any questions please call me at 800-721-3992 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
GLENN C. McGOVERN is an AV RATED TRIAL ATTORNEY AND MSF BASIC MOTORCYCLE INSTRUCTOR