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Motorcycle accident lawsuit hinges on antilock brake icon

In April 2008, a husband and wife were riding on their motorcycle on a California highway when traffic suddenly slowed. Traveling at 65 miles per hour, the husband was unable to stop the motorcycle in time. The rear wheel of the bike locked, and the wife was thrown more than 30 feet forward onto the pavement.

She suffered severe injuries in the motorcycle accident, including a traumatic brain injury and a fractured skull, face, ribs, and scapula. She now has a prosthetic skull and permanent softening of the brain, and will likely suffer from pain and memory loss for the rest of her life.

When police officers arrived on the scene of the motorcycle crash, the first thing the husband told police was that his antilock braking system (ABS) had malfunctioned, causing his rear wheel to lock and his wife to be thrown from the bike. However, the motorcycle was never equipped with ABS, despite the fact that the Harley-Davidson's tachometer had an icon indicating that it had antilock brakes.

The woman filed a lawsuit against Harley-Davidson, alleging that the salesman who sold them the motorcycle specifically told them that it had ABS. Harley denies that allegation. When asked why the bike had an ABS logo, a Harley engineer testified that the icons are placed on all of the company's motorcycles. If the bike actually had ABS, the engineer said, the icon would have lit up when the engine was started. The couple should have known that, Harley's attorneys claimed.

But since they were told otherwise, there was no reason that they should have known the bike did not have ABS, the woman's attorneys said in court. The case is now in the hands of the jury, who will decide whether Harley-Davidson is liable for the woman's injuries.

Source: Sacramento Bee, "Contentious motorcycle crash case heads to Sacramento jury," Andy Furillo, Dec. 16, 2011

1 Comment

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