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What Happens When a Motorcycle Test Ride Turns Deadly?

As strange as it might seem, accidents that take place during motorcycle test drives are a frequent occurrence. A surprising number of people with little or no practice riding motorcycles feel that it is perfectly safe to test drive them since in their minds a test drive is not a ‘real’ driving experience. Similarly, many motorcycle dealerships assume that individuals who come in to look at motorcycles already know how to ride them, and have sufficient understanding of the rules of motorcycle safety to handle them properly. In truth, most people who test drive or sell motorcycles seriously underestimate the danger of driving them without the knowledge and skill to do so safely.

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As an experienced motorcycle accident attorney, I am frequently consulted by victims—and family members of victims—who have been catastrophically injured or killed during a motorcycle test ride, or during the initial period of motorcycle ownership. In most of these cases, the victim test drove or purchased a new bike without having adequate driving experience or familiarity with the motorcycle’s features.

Motorcycle Accidents That Occur During Test Drives Often Involve No Other Vehicles

When this is the case, the issue of who is responsible for the resulting damages—including such things as medical bills, economic loss, and long-term healthcare—inevitably arises. Most people assume that the driver of the motorcycle bears the responsibility for the loss. However, this may not necessarily be true.

Before allowing someone to test drive a motorcycle, the dealer has a responsibility to thoroughly explain the handling characteristics of the bike, and the commands necessary for operating it safely. Some drivers may even need instruction in the proper use of the throttle and the clutch. The salesperson has a responsibility to determine whether or not the person who is going out on the test drive has the skills and the mental and physical capacity to be driving that particular motorcycle. But, unfortunately, few dealers or salespeople will tell a customer who intends to purchase a motorcycle that he or she cannot take the bike for a test drive.

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I recently spent time with a young woman who sustained a catastrophic personal injury when test driving a high-performance Ducati motorcycle. Unfamiliar with the bike’s handling characteristics and rapid acceleration, the victim lost control of it while exiting from a busy highway. She sustained a traumatic brain injury, multiple fractures, and permanent cosmetic disfigurement.

A crash involving any motorcycle must be carefully investigated and reconstructed to determine who is liable. Many theories of liability—including negligence, premises liability, and product liability—may come into play, requiring experienced and knowledgeable legal investigation and representation.

Most commonly, the seller of the motorcycle will try pointing the finger at the test rider. However, such issues as fault, product defects, and negligence frequently point back to the dealer or manufacturer. For example, a motorcycle may have a product liability defect and be subject to recall, in which case the manufacturer and retailer had a duty to notify the rider. Whatever the case, it is always best to hire an experienced motorcycle accident attorney who knows how to best protect a victim’s rights.

Get In Touch With A Pennsylvania Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

Pennsylvania motorcycle accident attorney at The Reiff Law Firm is able to recognized by their peers as having the highest possible rating in both legal abilities and ethical standards. They are consistently recognized as Pennsylvania Super Lawyers and are members of the National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Attorneys. They have the knowledge, skill, and compassion to give victims of motorcycle accidents the kind of support they rightly need and deserve.

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