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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Just read something in another thread but did not want to take away the meaning of that thread.

It was brought up that if a cager causes an accident that takes the life of a biker they should be charged with vehicular manslaughter, or negligent homicide, whatever you want to call it. I have a different perspective on it but wanted to open this up for discussion to see what others views are.

Now, keeping in mind we are all bikers things will be skewed, but common sense also has a place.

My view: As long as the person was not acting reckless and doing some blatantly poor choices in judgement (talking on cell phone, fkn with radio, DWI, reckless driving, etc) the punishment should not be anymore severe than an auto vs. auto accident. Accidents happen everyday and generally have a single cause such as inattentiveness, distraction, etc. WE choose to put ourselves at a higher risk of injury by riding a bike vs. surrounding ourselves in metal and restraints. It is tragic that an accident involving a bike is often fatal or severely diabilitating, but we accept those risks everytime we go for a ride.

Having said that, I believe that any accident that is caused by some jackass talking on a cell phone, passing recklessly, or just plain driving with their head up their ass should have some personal consequence vs. their insurance company taking care of everything.

Flame suit on and really just looking for others ideas on the subject.

Glenn
 

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I have a knee jerk reaction the other way. There's a high percentage of bike accidents that are caused by the biker riding way too fast or recklessly. If I'm riding @100+ like I do alot and crash into a minivan driven by a teenager talking on a cell phone, it's MY fault. How many times has it been said to ride "like you're invisible?" If you don't you are relying on everyone else to NOT have their heads up their assses, and we all know that's not the case. YOU are riding a motorcycle, YOU are not protected by a steel shell around you, YOU will be hurting if you crash, YOU need to watch out for everyone else. Yes, cagers do stupid things, drive unattentively, pull out in front of you, change into your lane, etc. etc., but you need to expect them to do that. If not, you need to get more wheels beneath you - you will hurt yourself on just 2.
 

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Here's my take on this.. and I was actually thinking along the lines of punishment to some degree..

I consider reckless driving when someone is distracted for ANY reason and does something stupid like pulling out in front of someone, running a red light,
turning in front of another, not yeilding the right of way, lane infringement, etc.. All of these things are also reckless even if I am not distracted, but of course if you do any of these things, you weren't paying attention or shouldn't be driving in the first place so it is just as bad.

Now with that said.. I believe that if the other party (motorcycle or car) is doing everything by the law (no speeding or driving reckless as well) and a reckless (as defined above) driver causes a death, they should be held accountable. I think the accountability should be to the level of manslaughter or something similar. Without this sort of protection, what is to stop someone from saying "OOOps.. bumped another biker off" and getting away free and clear??

If I hit a pedestrian that is walking on the side walk or crossing the crosswalk in accordance to the law, it is manslaughter.. Same thing with a bicyclist.. I believe it should be the same for another motorist also.. If it is clear one party was reckless and the other was obeying the laws, then for sure.. Good example is I am driving down the road doing the speed limit, someone pulls out of a grocery store into my path of travel.. If I am killed, they should have consequences.. Same thing with running a red light..
 

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I am very consious of motorcycles on the road when I'm in my truck. I'm sure all of us are, but, I wonder if we're any better about talking on the phone, messing with the radio or any other distraction while we're driving our cages. I doubt that we are. Obviously we're all more intelligent than the lemmings out there, that's evident in our choice of motorcycles alone, but I seriously doubt every one of us is out there driving like a drivers ed instructor with our hands at 2 and 10 on the wheel doing everything we're supposed to do. If I screwed up and took someone out on the road because I made a mistake, that would be a lifetime of punishment in and of itself for me, but sh!t happens, there's a good chance you'll be in a car accident in your life and some chance that it will be your fault.
 

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There are laws that cover all of this. Vehicular manslaughter. Homocide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle. It is not necessary to seek out special protection of motorcycle riders. It's necessary to get limp wristed DA's to enforce the laws allready on the books and charge people with the appropriate offences if you see it that way. I don't. Someone pulling out in front of you or drifting into your lane should be expected. Just riding "within the law" is NOT enough if you are on a motorcycle. You are taking the risks associated with being on 2 wheels, you need to watch out for things like that and not be in those situations. Punishing someone else is little comfort in a hospital bed.
So yes, people should be held accountable for their actions, but no, there should not be new laws for motorcycles IMHO.
 

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Pondo said:
So yes, people should be held accountable for their actions, but no, there should not be new laws for motorcycles IMHO.
:them:
 

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:them:
 

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My best friend is an ER nurse, and she says the vast majority of motorcycle accidents are not the fault of the biker...FYI.
 

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MegaZ said:
My best friend is an ER nurse, and she says the vast majority of motorcycle accidents are not the fault of the biker...FYI.
Unless of course they were on a dirt bike! :)
 

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MegaZ said:
My best friend is an ER nurse, and she says the vast majority of motorcycle accidents are not the fault of the biker...FYI.
I kind of disagree with that statement. The accident may not technically be our "fault" but to a large degree, many, if not most accidents could have been avoided either by a better trained/more experienced rider paying more attention.

I've had 1 major accident in 31 years of riding (~3 years ago). The training and experience played an important role in me and my daughter walking away from that accident relatively unharmed. I believe, looking back and playing it over... and over... and over in my mind that there is a slight chance I could have avoided the accident altogether had I been paying just a little more attention to the signs. I was 100% clear of "fault", but there is that tiny part of me that still believes I might have been able to avoid the collision.
 

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I don't think there should be more severe penalties for cage vs. bike than cage vs. cage. However, if a cager pulled out in front of an oncoming cage when the oncoming cage had the right of way, and nothing else (i.e., speed, alcohol, etc.) was involved, and the second cager was killed, the first cager would be in deep doo doo. Too often in the same situation, everyone jumps to the conclusion that the bike was at fault or at least defends the cager because "bikes are hard to see"--and often no or very lenient charges are brought. That's where I call "BS".

Seeing motorcycles requires attentiveness. If you are so f'ing inattentive as to not see them then that justifies stiff penalties when you hurt or kill them. :soapbox:
 

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Okay since I'm a Personal Injury/Civil Litigation lawyer, I should probably jump into this one.


Most states traffic laws are somewhat irrational no matter what type of vehicles are involved.

For example, someone can run into another person and paralyze them for life, and the offender will likely receive a violation, fine, or suspension. (absent drunk driving or something crazy) However, the offender could be in the same exact accident but kill someone, and now all the sudden the offender COULD face a neg homocide or similar charge. To me that has never made sense.

To be honest, I don't think that most people even give any thought to possible criminal charges when they are deciding to make a "quick" left or pull out of a driveway without looking.

The bottom line is I don't think a stiffer penalty would do anything. If a cager kills/hurts someone, they have to live that and will probably lose their house after being sued. Cagers cause accidents during those few seconds that they are not paying attention rather than a conscious decision that they don't care if they hit a biker.

IMHO the only thing we can do is ride as safely as possible.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Another thought as well is the fact that the person who caused the accident will probably never be the same unless they have no conscience. I know if I killed somebody in an accident that was my fault, however not intentional or reckless, I would still never be the same and would carry that guilt with me forever.

An example is my cousin. He was driving a sewer pumping truck for his dad's company (I think he was 19 or 20 at the time) when a young kid pulled out of a driveway right in front of him in a pick-up. Cousin had no chance to do anything and the young kid ended up dying right there. My cousin has never been the same and suffers from some pretty severe road rage to this day that many of us trace back to the accident and the fact that he has never really gotten any counseling to deal with what happened. It was in no way his fault, but he still lives with the guilt that he was driving a truck that killed somebody.

We all make mistakes, some much more costly than others, and sometimes those mistakes leave scars worse than any of us can imagine. My guess is the young gal that pulled out in front of poor Eric in Portland is punishing herself mentally more than any legal penalty could. I think a more fitting penalty would be 100 talks in front of young drivers relaying her story and what she has to live with the rest of her life.
 

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gtrman66 said:
I kind of disagree with that statement. The accident may not technically be our "fault" but to a large degree, many, if not most accidents could have been avoided either by a better trained/more experienced rider paying more attention.

I've had 1 major accident in 31 years of riding (~3 years ago). The training and experience played an important role in me and my daughter walking away from that accident relatively unharmed. I believe, looking back and playing it over... and over... and over in my mind that there is a slight chance I could have avoided the accident altogether had I been paying just a little more attention to the signs. I was 100% clear of "fault", but there is that tiny part of me that still believes I might have been able to avoid the collision.
Don't beat yourself up. You could take that thought to an extreme by thinking the accident could have been avoided completely if you had not riden that day or for that matter if you never rode a motorcycle in your life. Hindsight never solved a problem that has occured. Just remember the incident and resolve to be more alert next time.
 

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RustyG said:
You could take that thought to an extreme by thinking the accident could have been avoided completely if you had not riden that day or for that matter if you never rode a motorcycle in your life.
Here in Japan there is no such thing as no fault everyone in the crash has fault. If you were at a stoplight and got rear ended you still have a percent of fault because if you weren't there the crash wouldn't have happend.

On another note the laws of fault go from Pedestrain, bike, motorcycle, car. If you are in a car and hit any of the above even if not your fault still in Japanese laws eyes you are at fault. If that makes since.
 

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My wife and I were riding yesterday on the highway and she was about 2 car lengths behind me and a car cut in between us and she hit the brakes and the rear locked up and she almost lost it the bike was sliding side to side but some how by the grace of God she gained control and made it ok. The jerk was not on the phone just driving stupid and cutting in and out of traffic. That guy should loose his driving privilege.
 

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golfinglenn said:
Just read something in another thread but did not want to take away the meaning of that thread.

It was brought up that if a cager causes an accident that takes the life of a biker they should be charged with vehicular manslaughter, or negligent homicide, whatever you want to call it. I have a different perspective on it but wanted to open this up for discussion to see what others views are.

Now, keeping in mind we are all bikers things will be skewed, but common sense also has a place.

My view: As long as the person was not acting reckless and doing some blatantly poor choices in judgement (talking on cell phone, fkn with radio, DWI, reckless driving, etc) the punishment should not be anymore severe than an auto vs. auto accident. Accidents happen everyday and generally have a single cause such as inattentiveness, distraction, etc. WE choose to put ourselves at a higher risk of injury by riding a bike vs. surrounding ourselves in metal and restraints. It is tragic that an accident involving a bike is often fatal or severely diabilitating, but we accept those risks everytime we go for a ride.

Having said that, I believe that any accident that is caused by some jackass talking on a cell phone, passing recklessly, or just plain driving with their head up their ass should have some personal consequence vs. their insurance company taking care of everything.

Flame suit on and really just looking for others ideas on the subject.

Glenn
Glenn, I agree with you, if it truly was an accident then the penalties should be no worse than an auto/auto accident. The problem is that the cagers always use the get out of jail free phrase:"I'm sorry officer (all together now, in four part harmony) I DIDN'T SEE THE BIKE". LEOs shouldn't let that be an automatic out, but sadly they seem to. If the driver was multitasking while driving then they should get the book thrown at them. Sadly some of the cage/bike accidents are caused because the driver is driving with a suspended or no license, no insurance and little or no experience or training. These are the ones that should go directly to jail and not pass go on the way.:soapbox:
 
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