Motorcycle Expert Opines on Fatal Brake Defect


Motorcycle Expert WitnessThis case involves a man who was killed while learning how to ride a motorcycle in the parking lot of a large shopping center. At the time of the incident in question, the decedent was learning how to ride a motorcycle on a late-model bike that he had borrowed from a friend, who was present at the time of the accident. The man had been riding the motorcycle at a high rate of speed in the parking lot when his brakes apparently failed, causing him to crash into an exterior wall of a grocery store. The man was immediately taken to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead several hours later. The model of bike that the man was riding had undergone a recall for defective brakes one year prior to the accident, however the manufacturer maintained that brake failure was not the cause of the accident. It was reported that components of the motorcycle did not undergo any shock and vibration testing which could have identified any design issues.

Question(s) For Expert Witness

  • 1. Please briefly describe your work with motorcycle braking systems.

Expert Witness Response E-037755

I am well acquainted with motorcycle braking systems, and while I have not performed a forensic evaluation of the brakes in a crashed motorcycle, I feel confident that I could perform and document such an inspection. I am an accredited reconstructionist and have been an avid motorcyclist for the last 20+ years. I have been a motorcycle safety instructor for my state’s motorcycle safety program and have published a paper on motorcycle braking in the Accident Reconstruction Journal. I have also completed approximately 80 hours of training specific to advanced motorcycle collision reconstruction. I have testified as an expert in multiple criminal motorcycle collision cases.

Expert Witness Response E-088274

There are several questions in this case, most important of which is what does the scene evidence show? What is the condition of the braking system including pads, calipers, and hydraulic fluid levels? Are the brakes responsive at all? This type of motorcycle has independent front and rear brakes, so all things considered one system should have worked if the other failed. Was the original recall for possible master cylinder issues and brake fluid corrosion? I have inspected brakes on motorcycles multiple times during my police and reconstruction career. In one case, the brake fluid was analyzed and contaminants found that caused a master cylinder failure. Whatever the situation, a protocol should be set up for evidence removal and storage as well as inspection of the parts.

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