Trying an Indianapolis, IN Motorcycle Accident Claim Before a Jury, Part I — Overcoming Negative Perceptions of Cyclists
Defendants exploit ‘bad boy’ biker stereotypes
Cyclists involved in a motorcycle accident are more vulnerable to injury and fatality than motorists afforded the intrinsic protection of an auto or truck body. In a study produced by NHTSA, it was found that the failure of motorists to detect and recognize motorcycles in traffic is the predominating cause of motorcycle accidents. In the study, the driver of the other vehicle involved in a collision with the motorcycle either did not see the motorcycle before the accident, or did not see the motorcycle until it was too late to avoid the collision.
Motorcycle stereotypes cannot prevail in jury trial
Cyclists enjoy the same legal rights as those enjoyed by car and truck drivers. Yet, trying plaintiff’s claim for motorcycle injury or death requires an understanding of a jury’s general attitudes toward riders. Focus groups studying the psychology of jurors seated on motorcycle cases have found that the non-riding public often perceives cyclists to be risk-takers. Indiana’s own James Dean and others like Marlon Brando and Steve McQueen have seared these wild and reckless roles onto the psyches of American moviegoers. Their legends perpetuate these notions. And while certainly, not everyone seated on a jury shares these opinions, the ‘bad boy’ images must be met—ahead of the defense—by Plaintiff’s attorney and before the stereotypical images take hold in the jurists’ minds.
Personal injury attorney humanizes injured cyclist
From day one of trial, an experienced personal injury attorney will differentiate the claimant from the common misperception before the defense can exploit any negative notions held by a possible few jury members. By humanizing the injured or deceased party and establishing their role in the family and community and through submission of evidence of education and employment history, a real person begins to flesh out early on, making the claimant interesting and attractive to jury members on a human level.
“It has been said that verdicts in motorcycle crash cases can be expected to come in 25% lower than those of an otherwise similar automobile crash.” [Unique Intricacies of the Motorcycle Crash Case, The Lawyers Logbook, Aug.-Sept. 2011] Regardless of jurists’ personal feelings toward motorcyclists, it’s the personal injury attorney’s responsibility to instruct the jury that any motorcycle rider injured or killed due to the negligence of another driver, has the same right as the car or truck driver to full compensation for injuries, past and future medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and all other remedies available by law.
Charlie Ward is a personal injury attorney in Indianapolis, IN from Ward & Ward Law Firm experienced in litigating accidents and wrongful death claims involving motorcycles. The law office of Ward & Ward receives no legal fees or expenses unless we collect damages on your behalf. Call Charlie today at 317-639-9501 to discuss your motorcycle accident and receive a free analysis of your claim.