It was a typical car-on-motorcycle collision, like so many the Central and Syracuse New York motorcycle lawyers of Michaels & Smolak have handled over the years. The car operator had a stop sign, and the biker did not. But, as often happens, the car driver did not notice the motorcyclist, and left the stop sign, violating the biker’s right of way. Crash!
I am preparing for my Central New York motorcycle injury trial soon. And in motorcycle injury cases, picking a fair jury is both difficult and crucial. Why? Because many jurors want to blame the motorcycle rider for his injuries merely because he was riding a motorcycle.
The remedy for this bias? Aggressive “voir dire”. What’s that? That’s where the lawyers get to ask prospective jurors questions to find out if they can be fair. I will ask lots of questions designed to ferret out hidden biases against motorcycles and bikers. At the same time, I will be educating the prospective jurors that New York motor vehicle accident law does not allow them to blame the biker for being on a motorcycle. They must blame only the driver who violated the rules of the road, and in this case, that was the car driver.
Some jurors might think, “gee, motorcycles are hard to see because they are so much smaller than cars. Maybe it was not the car driver’s fault for failing to see the motorcyclist”. I will have to explain to the jurors that this is not a proper consideration. Under New York law, a driver of any vehicle has a duty to see what’s there to be seen, whether it’s a Mack truck, a Harley, a mo-ped, a bicycle or a pedestrian. It’s no excuse that a motorcycle is harder to see.
And there’s still more biased thinking a juror can bring into the jury room! For example, some jurors tend to think, “O.K., so it was the car driver’s fault, but heck, that motorcyclist would not have been so badly injured if he had been in a car”. That kind of reasoning is not allowed, either! True, motorcyclists’ injuries are often more serious than car operators’ injuries. But a motorcycle rider is within his rights to be riding on the public highway. A car driver who violates his right-of-way is liable to him to the full extent of his injuries, no matter that he might have suffered less serious injuries if he had been in a car.
Picking a fair jury in a New York motorcycle injury case is tough — but I’m ready!
Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you!
Michael G. Bersani, Esq.
Central NY Personal Injury Lawyer Michaels & Smolak, P.C.