Yes, a motorcycle manufacturer or the manufacturer of third-party accessories and gear can potentially be liable for motorcycle accidents and injuries. In most motorcycle accidents where a rider is seriously injured, either the rider or another driver on the road will be responsible for the accident.
However, there are certainly some scenarios where a mechanical failure either contributes to an accident or outright causes an accident.
There can also be scenarios where a mechanic who worked on a motorcycle may have made a mistake. If your mechanic replaced your disc brakes or drum brakes but didn’t properly reconnect everything, they might be at least partially liable if you end up getting into a crash because you couldn’t stop your motorcycle.
Checking for Motorcycle Recalls
There are a lot of places where dangerous vehicle and defective consumer product recalls might be listed. You can check for motorcycle recalls by visiting the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration’s Safety Issues & Recalls page and entering your motorcycle’s VIN.
The Motorcyclist’s recall page posts more motorcycle-specific recall announcements.
You can also visit the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s website and look for specific safety gear you own that might have been recalled. The products recalled can range from full bikes to small components.
It can sometimes be hard to hold a manufacturer accountable for injuries sustained due to a defective or dangerous motorcycle or aftermarket part after it has been recalled.
Once a recall has been issued the ball is technically in the owner’s court. They’ve supposedly been “warned” that they need to return the product or get it repaired to avoid being injured. The problem is most riders aren’t frequently checking CPSC’s website to find out if a product they own has been recalled.
In some cases, especially with vehicle or motorcycle recalls, notice will go out to dealerships and then the dealership will contact every person who bought the motorcycle and let them know a recall has been issued.
For example, when Harley-Davidson recalled some Sportster, Dyna and V-Rod bikes in April 2021, it’s likely that attempts were made to get in touch with the people who bought the roughly 30,000 affected motorcycles.
Recalls aren’t always timely. If you happened to have one of Renthal’s clip-on handlebars in 2017 when they were first recalled, it’s possible that you never got the memo. Those clip-on handlebars were sold between 2009 and 2017, so they were out in the world for nearly 10 years before any owners would have been warned about the potential for the handlebars to crack.
If you have doubts about the safety of any aftermarket motorcycle part you have installed on your bike or any equipment you own, you should check for recalls.
Defense for Motorcycle Product Recalls
Motorcycle and aftermarket part manufacturers do have a few defenses they can use if their bikes or equipment injure riders. These generally include:
- The rider misused the product
- There was an “assumption of risk” – the rider knew a malfunction and injury was possible when they chose to use the product
- The rider breached their product warranty (i.e., when installing the product, they skipped a step or modified the aftermarket product to make it fit on a motorcycle that it wasn’t designed to work with)
- The part may have been defective, but the defect didn’t actually cause your accident or contribute to your injuries
- The part or equipment wasn’t used for its intended purpose
Comparative fault may also play a role in defective product cases or mechanic repair negligence. Maybe after investigation it turns out the other driver was only 30 percent at fault, the mechanic who messed up your brake installation was 40 percent at fault, and you were only 30 percent at fault. You’d potentially be able to collect damages from both the other driver and the mechanic.
The good thing about product liability or mechanic malpractice are commercial insurance policies. Most commercial liability policies have much higher policy limits than the average driver or rider’s bodily injury liability policy.
Get Help After a Motorcycle Accident in Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, West Virginia or Georgia
The Motorcycle Law Group is dedicated to representing riders who have been injured in motorcycle accidents. We’ll fight for you whether your injury was caused by an inattentive, distracted driver or a defective drive chain that failed mid-ride.
The Motorcycle Law Group is the Firm that Rides. Each of our attorneys understands how much you rely on your motorcycle and gear. When something fails unexpectedly due to a manufacturing defect, the responsible company should pay for your injuries.
Call us at 1-855-LAW-RIDERS (855-529-7433) for a FREE motorcycle injury case evaluation.