After Maine traffic homicide investigators concluded that a 25-year-old set off a chain reaction motorcycle accident which turned deadly during an I-95 charity ride in September, two other riders are suing his estate for personal injury damages. The collision occurred in 2017, during an annual charity ride to collect Christmas toys for children throughout the state.
Our Maine motorcycle accident attorneys know that while group motorcycle rides can be fun and have commendable goals, they also seem to be more prone to these type of collisions. Chain reaction crashes usually occur when a cluster of vehicles are traveling too close together. When motorcyclists are riding in a group, the riders try to stick together. Primarily this is done for the social advantage, the feeling of solidarity, purpose and camaraderie. There might also be some advantages safety-wise to sticking together; too many drivers don’t look twice for motorcyclists in their blind spots, but a group of riders rumbling together down the road is harder to miss.
However, riders packed closely together are at risk of causing a chain reaction motorcycle crash that might harm fellow riders. Making matters more complicated is that it can often be difficult to parse who the at-fault party is or, if there are multiple parties, how much fault to assign each person.
Motorcycle Group Rides Prove Perilous
There are numerous examples of this in recent history, in addition to the toy charity run Maine motorcycle accident. Among those:
- Nine motorcycles, two tractor-trailers and a car collided in a chain reaction crash in Jacksonville, Florida November 2012. It started when three motorcyclists, participating in a charity ride for a man killed in a car crash the week before, collided with each other, resulting in a car striking and ejecting one rider, whose bike was then struck by another rider. Then two tractor-trailers halted for the pileup, only to be struck by other oncoming motorcyclists.
- Two motorcyclists hurt during a group ride in Daytona, Florida June 2014 when a car suddenly pulled out in front of the front two members of the group, causing a pileup.
- In June 2013, a retired police officer was killed in a motorcycle crash during a charity ride to benefit the Special Olympics of North Carolina. The officer had been serving as the “road captain,” with the responsibility to ride ahead of other motorcyclists to secure major intersections so they could all pass safely as a group. The route had been altered just prior to the ride, due to heavy storms the night before that left debris in the path of the normal route.
- In November 2018, three motorcyclists were injured in a chain reaction motorcycle accident in North Carolina during a charity motorcycle ride to raise money for the family of a state highway patrol trooper killed on-the-job.
These are just a few examples of which are Maine motorcycle attorneys are aware, but they highlight how dangerous these group rides can be, how much care organizers must put into planning and how cautious all riders must be when participating.
Event Organizers of Motorcycle Group Rides May Be Liable for Crash-Related Damages
In the most recent Maine motorcycle chain reaction crash during the toy charity ride, the Lisbon Times Record reported a couple has filed a civil complaint in Androscoggin County Superior Court alleging a 25-year-old Harley Davidson rider – one in a group of 1,000 – was at-fault. The younger rider was reportedly ahead of plaintiffs when he tried to merge into the passing lane, cutting off a pickup truck driver, who then veered left into the guardrail before swerving into the lane of travel, striking several motorcyclists in the process, and then overturning. The young rider, a father-of-one, lost his life, as did another. Plaintiffs, meanwhile, were struck from behind by a “phantom motorcyclist” who was never positively identified. They allege decedent was negligent in failing to yield the right-of-way, not keeping a proper lookout, making an improper turn and failing to control his vehicle.
In addition to the young motorcyclist, plaintiffs name the charity organization as defendants, alleging the group decided to direct the caravan of motorcyclists onto that highway without implementing any safety procedures or warning group riders of the potential hazards.
Maine motorcycle injury lawyers know it’s possible we’ll continue to see these types of claims – increasingly naming motorcycle ride charity event organizers liable when they fail to properly scout the route, warn riders of potential dangers of riding as a group and be proactive about participants’ safety.
If you are the victim of a Bangor traffic accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-490-5218 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
Lisbon couple suing family of Windsor man killed in 2017 Toy Run crash, Dec. 16, 2018, By Christopher Williams, Lisbon Times Record
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