Motorcycle crashes are often deadly because riders are not protected by a hood, trunk, or sides like a car is. Survivors often suffer traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord damage, broken bones, and other catastrophic injuries. If you were hurt while driving or riding a motorcycle, call Silverman, McDonald & Friedman at our offices in Wilmington, Newark, and Seaford to discuss your options.
Motorcycle accidents are often caused by drivers who fail to respect the rights of the motorcycle operator. In many cases, a car driver, truck driver, or even an inexperienced motorcycle driver causes the crash. Some motorcycle accidents, however, are due to the condition of the motorcycle. Motorcycle parts manufacturers, distributors, and dealers have a duty to ensure their parts are not defective.
Likewise, owners and operators should take care to ensure their bikes are road ready. Before each trip, there are routine safety checks the operator should make. According to Ultimate Motorcycling and the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, motorcycle owners should use the T-CLOCS method to inspect their motorcycles. T-CLOCS is an acronym for “Tires, Controls, Lights, Oil, Chassis, and Stands.” Owners should also review their factory service manual. It helps to wash your motorcycle before starting your inspection.
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T (Tires, Wheels, and Brakes)
The tires, wheels, and brakes should be checked as follows:
- Tires. Your tires wear down over time. You can inspect the tread by looking at the “wear bars.” These bars indicate when the tire needs replacement - when the wear bars “become flush with the surface of the tread.” Check the air pressure when the tires are cold.
- Wheels. The wheel spokes should be checked (elevate your motorcycle with the motorcycle stands or a lift) for spokes that are broken, missing, bent, or fail to have the proper tension. The cast should be checked for dents and cracks. The rims, bearings, and tire seals should also be examined.
- Brakes. Compare the brake pad thickness to the specifications in the factory manual. Brakes should be replaced sooner than later. Each brake alone should keep the motorcycle from rolling.
As with cars, motorcycle dealerships may not offer any type of insurance or warranty on these types of parts, as normal wear-and-tear is commonplace. Also like cars, these parts may also have defects that are subject to recall for defects. This is important because defective motorcycle parts should always be repaired or replaced for free, and some manufacturers may try to avoid paying for repairs/replacements if there is no recall.
The controls inspection includes handlebars and mirrors, levers and pivot bolts, all cables, and the throttle. Riders should make sure there is no fraying or loose hoses, and that everything is properly lubricated. This type of maintenance should be done regularly and consistently.
L (Lights and Electrics)
The following components should be checked:
- If you had your battery “on a smart charger” during the winter, you probably just need to clean the terminals. You should check the battery voltage whether you charged it during the winter or not. The terminals should be clean and tight. The electrolytes should be at the correct level. The vent tube should be properly conditioned too.
- Headlamps, tail lamps, and brake lamps should all work. If they do not work, the bulb or the wiring connections should be examined.
- The turn signals should flash correctly
- The mirror should not have any cracks. The mounts and swivel joints should be tight. Mirrors should be properly adjusted for each biker.
- The wiring should be checked for fraying, chafing, and proper routing.
O (Oil and Other Fluids)
If you do not know the last time you checked your oil, then you need to check it now. Ultimate Motorcycling says, “There are three general schools of thought here: change it in the fall, change it in the spring, or do both.” The motorcycle should be completely vertical when you check the oil level to have an accurate reading.
Other fluid levels owners should check include the gear oil, hydraulic fluid, coolant, and the fuel level. In addition to checking the levels, the gaskets, seals, hoses, pipes, valves, and other key components should also be inspected. If the coolant or hydraulic fluid level is too low, “either one could attract moisture and lead to corrosion, unwelcome moisture, and other issues.” Again, check your manual for recommendations on when these fluids should be flushed. Ultimate Motorcycling says Don’t mix DOT levels of brake fluid together.
The publication recommends draining the gas from last year so your motorcycle can run with a fresh tank of fuel. Use new oil, air, and fuel filters when you change fluids.
It is critical that your motorcycle chassis does not have any stress fractures. Stress fractures can cause catastrophic damage to your frame. The forks should be checked so you know they work if you have to slam on the brakes. You need to make sure “a failed bearing won’t lock up your steering head while you’re dragging knee.”
- The frame and fairings for cracks. Examine the condition of the steering-head bearings and swingarm bushings.
- The front forks and rear shocks
- The chain or belt should be examined for tension, lubrication, and sprockets
- The fastener threads, clips, and cotter pins
The center and side stands should be checked for cracks, bending, that the springs are in place, and the tension holds the stand position.
Manufacturer liability for defective motorcycle parts
The best inspection and maintenance methods are of no use if the motorcycle parts themselves are defective. All of the parts we discuss in the T-CLOCS discussion may be defective because of improper design or substandard workmanship. Many motorcycle accidents are caused by defective brakes, lights, chasses, wheels, and handlebars. Defective engine systems are also a recipe for disaster.
At Silverman, McDonald & Friedman, our investigation of any motorcycle accident - where the motorcycle itself failed to work properly – starts by examining the parts themselves. If the parts are defective and the defects caused your injuries or the death of a loved one, we can file a product liability lawsuit on your behalf.
At Silverman, McDonald & Friedman, our Delaware motorcycle accident lawyers work aggressively to hold drivers, negligent riders, manufacturers, and other negligent parties liable when their actions cause an accident. We demand compensation for your pain and suffering, medical bills, lost income, and the damage to your motorcycle. If a loved member of your family died, we file wrongful death claims. To assert your rights, call us at 302.888.2900 or use our contact form to speak with our attorneys at our offices in Wilmington, Newark, and Seaford.
Attorney Jeffrey S. Friedman joined Silverman, McDonald & Friedman in 2001. He graduated from Widener University School of Law, and is admitted to practice law in Delaware and Pennsylvania, and in several Federal Circuit courts. He areas of concentration include auto accident and workers’ compensation cases. Read more about Attorney Friedman here.