It’s every motorcyclist’s worst nightmare: having your brakes fail, unexpectedly and without warning, at the very moment you need them the most. It’s all the more dire when you later learn that the failure was a result of defective brakes – and that the bike’s manufacturer knew about the problem but failed to do anything about it.
That’s essentially what happened in a recent Georgia case. Following a contentious trial, the jury found that defective brakes contributed to the crash of a postal worker in August of 2013. The victim was riding a 2006 Suzuki GSX R-1000 when his front brakes failed and he got thrown from the bike. At least two other GSX riders reported similar incidents with front brake failures.
The victim in this case sustained severe injuries – including a shattered spine – that left him with millions of dollars in medical bills. He’s since suffered from mobility problems and is unable to return to work as a result of the crash.
Suzuki knew about the problem
The case revealed evidence that Suzuki knew about the brake problem. The company had made preparations for a recall but put it off because they didn’t want to impact the spring sales season. They finally issued the recall two months after the victim’s crash.
At trial, a battle of experts unfolded about what caused the accident. Suzuki argued that the victim was to blame due to reckless driving and operator error. The company also pointed out that, at the scene of the accident, the victim failed to make any mention of brake failure and instead admitted he’d hit a patch of gravel. The jury ultimately found that the victim was 49 percent at fault and Suzuki 51 percent – in Georgia, sufficient to make a verdict in the victim’s favor.
Key takeaways from the case
The case highlights several important takeaways for motorcyclists and accident victims:
- Never make assumptions about what caused the crash. There may have been many contributing factors. Often, it takes a thorough investigation and detailed review of the evidence by experts to paint a full picture of went wrong.
- Don’t make admissions – especially to insurance companies – that might come back to haunt you later. Instead, speak with an attorney first.
- You can still pursue recovery even if you were partly at fault in the accident, so long as you weren’t more at fault than the other party.
Of course, every case is different, and the details of Pennsylvania negligence law are highly complex. Don’t attempt to tackle these issues without the help of a trusted local attorney who understands motorcycle accidents.