Personal Injury Claim

JR was offered a settlement of $35,000. The jury returned a verdict in her favor for $157,000, a net verdict over two times the amount offered by the RTB’s insurance company.

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Defective Parts in Motorcycles

Motorcyclists are usually all too aware of the reasons for accidents. Sometimes, it’s because the driver of a car didn’t see them. Other times, it’s road conditions and hazards. But, perhaps surprisingly, sometimes accidents are caused by—or made worse by—defective parts that make your motorcycle hazardous to ride.

Parts and the Dangers to the Rider

If you own a motorcycle, understanding the perils of defective parts is important for your own personal safety. Any rider knows that what might be a minor accident to someone in a car, where they are surrounded by metal, can involve major injuries to a rider with no steel cage protecting them.

Defective Motorcycle Accidents

It’s also important to be aware of the dangers of defective parts for legal reasons. If you are injured in an accident that involves a faulty part, it’s possible you could have a personal injury claim against the parts manufacturer, supplier, or distributor. You might also have cause for a class action lawsuit. In 2010, one such suit involved defective piston rings, which created a serious crash risk due to engine malfunction.

When parts fail, they can cause an accident or injure the rider in ways that would not have happened, nor been as severe, if the part had been operating properly. A motorcyclist is nearly 26 times more likely to die in an accident than someone who is riding in a motor vehicle. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), 4,668 motorcyclists died and 88,000 were injured in accidents during 2013 alone. Therefore, knowing your risks with regard to defective parts could save your life.

How Can It Be Determined a Part Is Defective?

Generally, there are three main ways in which a part can be found to be malfunctioning:

  • The product was made improperly and therefore does not work correctly. An example of this could be substandard tires that blow out at highway speed, causing a catastrophic accident.
  • The product’s design is defective. Usually, this means a recall will be issued by the manufacturer. Sometimes the defect is remedied by adding a safety element rather than replacing the part.
  • No warning was issued by the manufacturer regarding the part. For example, a bike part could become extremely hot and burn you, or even set your clothing on fire, as actually happened, and was addressed, in a 2011 suit. But, if you were not warned of the part’s known problems, it’s considered a malfunctioning part.

The Duties of Manufacturers

If a defective part is determined to be a safety hazard, the NHTSA requires the manufacturer to file a public report, whether it is a motor vehicle or a motorcycle. In that report, the manufacturer must describe:

  • The safety-related defect
  • The make, model, and year of the involved vehicle or motorcycle
  • The events that led to determining that a recall is needed
  • How the manufacturer intends to remedy the safety-related defect
  • The recall’s schedule.

Under federal law, the manufacturer must fix any safety-related defect at no cost to you, even if you don’t receive an official notification of the recall.

Aftermarket Parts That Can Create Hazards

Parts sold in the aftermarket that owners use to modify their bikes can also create problems resulting in accidents. Some items that are not covered by federal safety standards can be incredibly dangerous to use. One example of such a part is a passenger seat that uses only suction cups to secure it to a motorcycle. You can only imagine what might happen to the passenger should the suction cups fail.

The NHTSA has the legal right to go after civil penalties against aftermarket parts companies that market noncompliant products. Not all safety experts believe civil penalties to be sufficient. Clarence Ditlow, executive director of the nonprofit Center for Auto Safety, said, “There are people out there selling parts that NHTSA doesn’t even know about. What you have is self-policing. Whether companies comply with the regulations is basically voluntary on their part because NHTSA doesn’t have the resources to oversee them.”

If you are a motorcycle enthusiast, please drive carefully, and should you receive a recall notice, be sure to have your bike repaired promptly. Also, take care when using aftermarket parts to “trick out” your ride. We want you to stay alive!


real-life cases

“B.K.” was driving on a two-lane road one Sunday afternoon with his mother in the front seat and his brother and sister-in-law in the back seat when his life was forever changed. B.K. was struck head on by D.C.

D.C. had spent the day drinking with a friend and had stopped at a restaurant less than five miles from the point of the accident where D.C. had been served several drinks. D.C.’s blood alcohol level was more than twice the legal limit.

As a result of the terrible wreck, B.K. received devastating injuries, which included multiple broken bones, facial fractures, and loss of vision. B.K.’s mother, brother, and sister-in-law were all killed in the accident.

As one would anticipate, D.C. had virtually no insurance. Stephenson, through his thorough and detailed investigation, was able to prepare claims against the restaurant and those that provided the alcohol.

Stephenson pursued dram shop claims against those responsible CASE SUMMARY

D.H. was a competitive bicyclist who was riding in preparation for a cross-country fundraising ride. In the spring of 2010, D.H. was riding across an old steel-grated deck bridge in Shelby County when he hit a hole in the bridge and flipped over the handlebars of his bike. The impact to the bridge decking caused severe injuries to his face, teeth, tongue, and elbow.

Through the investigation, they were able to learn as early as 1998, the bridge inspection reports showed the bridge in question needed to be replaced. The county never authorized additional inspections. The county obtained $844,000 in funding for the replacement of the bridge in 2000, but the Historical Society and adjacent property owners wanted the bridge repaired rather than replaced.

This crash could have been avoided if the inspectors and county had done their jobs. CASE SUMMARY

Our client (“D.W.”) was a front-seat passenger in a vehicle that was struck by a UDF truck making deliveries. D.W. received broken arms and legs, as well as internal injuries. Stephenson was retained by D.W.’s personal counsel to prepare and try the case. Discovery determined that the UDF driver had multiple driving violations. Stephenson retained numerous experts to show the jury the devastating effects of the injuries. Before trial, the defendant’s company stated that a jury in a small southern county in Indiana would never return a verdict for $1 million in this case.

The defendant was correct; the verdict was twice that amount. CASE SUMMARY

At McNeely Stephenson, we believe justice matters.

Even the most cautious motorcyclist cannot control a parts failure or flaw, or the accident resulting from it. If you believe your motorcycle accident was caused by defective parts, consider hiring an Indiana personal injury lawyer who will provide you with competent and compassionate representation with a “client first” approach. That’s exactly what you’ll get with attorney Mike Stephenson. His entire legal team is committed to doing whatever is necessary to achieve the best possible outcome in your case.

As you contemplate filing a personal injury lawsuit, keep in mind that there is a statute of limitations – or a deadline – for filing Indiana personal injury claims, so it is unwise to delay. Don’t lose the opportunity to obtain the money you need to put your life back on track and to make your family’s future financially secure. Contact Mike Stephenson today by calling 855-206-2555 for a free accident consultation, or use our online contact form. McNeely Stephenson. Trusted advisors. Proven advocates.

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Mike Stephenson is a Super Lawyer in Indiana along with many of his peers at McNeely Stephenson. This is one of the highest honors an attorney can achieve


The AV Preeminent Rating from Martindale Hubbell is the HIGHEST RATING and considered a significant accomplishment. It is a peer-reviewed process reflecting that other attorneys rank Mike Stephenson at the highest possible level of professional excellence.


Attorney Mike Stephenson is a proud member of The Litigation Counsel of America’s Honorary Society. A close-knit, peer-selected, and aggressively diverse honorary society of 3,500 of the “best trial lawyers” in the country. Less than one-half of one percent of American lawyers, vigorously vetted for skills, expertise, and service; an invitation-only collegial network.


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The National Trial Lawyers: Top 100 is an invitation-only organization composed of the premier trial lawyers. Membership is extended only to the select few of the most qualified attorneys. Indiana attorney Mike Stephenson is proud to be included in this national organization of top trial lawyers.


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