After deliberating for approximately half a day, a California jury found that the Harley-Davidson motorcycle company was not at fault for the serious injuries Judy Wilson suffered when the Harley-Davidson motorcycle she was a passenger on was involved in an accident.
According to the Sacramento Bee, Wilson and her estranged husband were involved in amotorcycle accident on Highway 99 after breaking for traffic in April of 2009. Believing the motorcycle was equipped with an anti-lock braking system (ABS), Wilson’s husband accidentally locked up the rear wheel of the motorcycle while braking, which forced him to lay the motorcycle down into a slide. Wilson suffered severe brain injuries as a result of the accident; Wilson’s attorney said that the brain injuries are “lifetime disabling.”
In her personal injury lawsuit against Harley-Davidson, Wilson claimed that the motorcycle she was riding, a 2008 Road Glide, was defectively designed. Specifically, it was claimed that an icon installed on the motorcycle’s tachometer led Wilson and her husband to mistakenly believe the motorcycle was equipped with ABS. Further, Wilson claimed that a salesman at the dealership misrepresented the fact that the motorcycle did not have ABS by stating that it did.
In its defense, Harley-Davidson stated that no salesmen at the dealership that sold Wilson and her husband the motorcycle told them that the motorcycle had ABS installed; an assertion that jurors believed, according to the Sacramento Bee.
Further, Harley-Davidson denied that the motorcycle was defectively designed. The motorcycle manufacturer stated that all of tachometers that are installed on the motorcycles it manufacturers, including motorcycles with and without ABS, contain the icon in question. Harley-Davidson said that this is the first time that the icon has been an issue with a rider.
The jury found Harley-Davidson’s arguments persuasive and found that the company was not at fault for the accident and Wilson’s injuries.
In discussing the finding in favor of Harley-Davidson, a juror was quoted by the Sacramento Bee as stating: “The evidence showed and the experts showed there was no problem with (the icon) until this incident.”
But what if the icon on the tachometer or another part was defective? What would the Harley-Davidson’s responsibilities to riders and purchasers of its motorcycles be?
Defects and Recalls
Motorcycle manufacturers like Harley-Davidson and all other automobile manufacturers who discover a defect in a make or model of vehicle sold or a component of vehicles sold, a recall for the affected vehicles is issued. Typically a recall is issued by one of two parities, the manufacturer of the vehicle or the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
When a defect in a vehicle or a component of a vehicle is found and a recall is issued, federal law mandates that the manufacturer remedy the defect at no cost to the purchaser of the vehicle. But, in order to effectively remedy the situation, people who drive vehicles that have been recalled need to be notified.
The manufacturer has an obligation to notify (or at least attempt to notify) the purchasers of the recalled vehicle. To do so, manufacturers can use sales records and vehicle registration information from the states. Then an attempt to notify these specific individuals of the recall can be made.
If the recall involves a defective component, manufacturers will notify individuals and companies within the parts distribution chain. And, if individual purchasers of the component are known, they will be notified.
In addition to notifying the individuals who are specifically affected by the recall, a public report about the defect must be filed. The public report will describe what the defect is, what vehicles or components are affected by the defected, what (if anything) occurred to spur the recall, what will be done to remedy the defect, and a timeline or schedule for the recall.
A list of all motor vehicle recalls is published monthly by the NHTSA. The NHTSA’s list of recalls will give drivers a quick overview of the defect and the makes and models of the vehicles subject to the recall.
The consequences of a non-remedied defective vehicle, motorcycle or component can be very serious and possibly fatal. Speak with an experienced personal injury attorney if you or a loved one has been injured by a by a motorcycle or car that may be defective.