150+ 5 Star Google Reviews

header language switcher

Accidents happen all the time. That's why we're available 24/7. Contact us to schedule a free consultation.
Pedestrian and Bicycle Accident Lawyers Serving Monroe

The First Motorcycle Crashes in U.S. History

Harley-Davidson and a few other companies started making and selling motorcycles in the United States around 1900. By about 1910, motordomes, or wooden race tracks, were popular in Los Angeles and other cities. Spectators gathered along the edge of the track and watched motorcycles, which did not have brakes, race at speeds over 100mph, an unheard-of velocity at the time.

These races sound dangerous, and they were dangerous. In 1912, between four and six spectators died at a New Jersey motordome, when a rider lost control of his bike and slammed into the crowd. The bike killed some people and the splinters flying from the disintegrated racetrack killed others. Such wrecks were common. In the 1920s, many newspapers referred to “motordomes” as “murderdomes.” Because of government crackdowns and waning public interest, most motordomes were closed by 1930.

Also in the 1930s, roadway motorcycle crashes became more common. The motorcycles on streets and highways had brakes, but other than that, they were not much different from the ones that recklessly zoomed around motordomes. Today’s motorcycle wrecks are also different because, in most cases, the other driver causes these crashes. If that is the case, a Hamilton personal injury lawyer can obtain substantial compensation for your serious injuries.

Lawrence of Arabia, 1935

T.E. Lawrence was trying to enjoy retirement in the English countryside when he was killed in a motorcycle wreck in May 1935. As is the case in many early motorcycle wrecks, the details are sketchy. However, it appears that Lawrence was speeding on an isolated country road when he came upon two boys on bicycles, who may have been on the wrong side of the road. Lawrence swerved to avoid them, lost control of his bike, and slammed into a tree.

Based on these facts, both parties were partially at fault since Lawrence was speeding and the boys were on the wrong side of the road. If that is so, the contributory negligence rule, which comes from an 1882 English case, probably applied. Jurors must listen to the evidence and divide fault on a percentage basis. That division could reduce, sometimes to zero, the amount of compensation the tortfeasor (negligent driver) must pay.

Bluey Wilkinson, 1940

Most non-Australians have probably never heard of Arthur Wilkinson, who won several motorcycle racing championships in the 1930s. He won the 1938 world championship riding with a broken collarbone. Since he had red hair, his childhood friends called him “Bluey.” We don’t understand that either, so don’t ask us to explain.

On June 27, a large truck, which had swerved to avoid a car, struck Bluey’s motorcycle, fracturing his skull and killing him instantly. His wife Muriel, who was a passenger on Bluey’s bike, sustained only mild injuries.

The swerving truck driver, although he hit Bluey, may not have been responsible for damages under another Davies vs. Mann rule. Tortfeasors are not responsible for damages if they reasonably react to a sudden emergency. If the car was being driven recklessly, this rule might have applied.

Incidentally, Davies involved a wagon that hit a grazing donkey. According to the court, the wagon was coming down a hill “at a smartish pace” when it “ran against the ass and knocked it down.” The wagon driver, although he was clearly negligent, wasn’t responsible for damages.

Ahmed Hassanein, 1946

We know a lot about this Egyptian man’s fascinating life but almost nothing about his death in a 1946 motorcycle crash.

Following his graduation from Oxford University, Hassanein was the Egyptian crown prince’s royal tutor. He then radically changed careers and became an explorer. In the early 1920s, Hassanein explored the Libyan desert, finding several “lost oases” that opened commerce in that desolate area. He used a wristwatch to determine his location. We have no idea how that worked. Additionally, Hassanein was an Olympic fencer in 1920 and 1924.

No-evidence wrecks, like the one that killed the 57-year-old Hassanein, are common problems for Hamilton personal injury lawyers. Fortunately, the necessary evidence is available. A lawyer simply must know where to look.

Most vehicles have an Event Data Recorder, a gadget that resembles a commercial jet’s black box flight data recorder. EDR information includes:

  • Brake application,
  • Vehicle speed,
  • Engine RPM, and
  • Steering angle.

A lawyer, often working with an accident reconstruction engineer or other such professional, puts these pieces of evidence together like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. So, instead of jumbled pieces, like random recollections from various witnesses, the jury sees a clear picture of what happened.

Richard Fariña, 1966

Fariña was an extremely talented American folk singer who, according to many, might have been bigger than Bob Dylan. But we’ll never know. Fariña, who was Joan Baez’s brother-in-law, was only 29 when he died in a motorcycle crash in California.

Fariña was riding on the back of a motorcycle when the rider lost control on an S-curve and careened through a barbed-wire fence. The rider survived, but Fariña did not. Police investigators stated that the driver was traveling about 90mph on that curve.

This tragic crash brings up some emotional issues which are common in passenger injury cases. Frequently, injured passengers do not file legal actions because they do not want to “blame” the driver for an “accident.”

Such beliefs are understandable but wrong. Civil courts do not “blame” anyone for anything. These courts simply force tortfeasors to assume responsibility for their mistakes. Furthermore, a crash like the one that killed Fariña is not an accident. People accidentally leave the gate open. They don’t accidentally speed recklessly around S-curves.

Duane Allman, 1971

“Skydog” was a founding member of the Allman Brothers band who became a member of the Rock-and-Roll Hall of Fame in 1995. A 2003 Rolling Stone article named him the second-best guitarist of all time, behind only Jimi Hendrix.

In October 1971, about a month before Allman turned 25, he was riding his Harley-Davidson in Macon, Georgia. He swerved to avoid a flatbed truck that stopped short in front of him. Allman lost control of his bike, which slid forward about 90 feet, with him pinned underneath. Emergency responders rushed Allman to a nearby hospital, but he did not survive his internal injuries.

Legally, the Allman crash seems identical to the Wilkinson crash. Both men swerved to avoid obstacles and lost control of their bikes. However, the Wilkinson crash may have involved a completely unexpected situation (a reckless car), whereas the Allman crash probably involved an everyday hazard (a stopped-short vehicle).

The sudden emergency rule usually does not apply to everyday hazards. That is why a Hamilton personal injury lawyer can obtain compensation when a tortfeasor hits a jaywalking pedestrian, which is an everyday hazard and not a sudden emergency. At most, the aforementioned comparative fault rule only applies in such collisions.

Berry Oakley, 1972

Ironically, the Allman Brothers bass player was killed in a motorcycle crash almost a year to the day after Allman’s fatal wreck.

Most bassists, even very good ones, only play chords. But the Chicago-born-and-bred Oakley, who was also a founding member of the Allman Brothers band, often played long, melodious riffs. To do this, he used a specially-designed tractor bass, a Swedish-made Fender Jazz Bass, which had a Guild Bisonic bass pickup.

The wreck happened just three blocks away from the scene of Allman’s fatal collision. But the similarities mostly end there. Oakley drifted over the centerline, hit a bus, and fell off his bike. His injuries didn’t seem bad. In fact, he refused medical treatment at the scene and rode home with a friend. He went to the hospital three hours later, complaining of delirium and extreme pain. He died shortly thereafter of skull fracture-induced cerebral swelling.

Many crash victims, like Oakley, refuse medical treatment because they “feel fine.” The brain conceals its own injuries. That is why concussed athletes want to go right back into the game. They honestly “feel fine.” But only a doctor can tell how bad your injuries are, just like only a Hamilton personal injury lawyer can properly evaluate your case.

There is another dynamic as well. An ambulance ride to a hospital and a few hours of observation normally cost thousands of dollars. Even if they have medical insurance, victims may be financially responsible for these charges. Most group health insurance policies exclude injury-related costs. So, victims who “feel fine” have another incentive to refuse treatment. They cannot afford to pay the bill.

Doctors and lawyers often work together on both fronts. Attorneys connect victims with doctors who focus on head injuries and other collision-related injuries. They know how to diagnose and treat head injuries and other such conditions. Additionally, these doctors normally charge nothing upfront for their services.

Don Rich, 1974

Some people may recognize Rich as the longtime backup singer for Buck Owens. Rich and Owens developed the distinctive “Bakersfield sound” in the 1960s. Unlike the twangy, predictable country music at the time, Owens and Rich used lots of electric guitar and unusual drum beats. Buck Owens and the Buckaroos played at New York’s Carnegie Hall in 1966. Many people still consider that show the best live show in the history of country music.

On July 17, 1974, Rich’s motorcycle struck a center divider in Morrow Bay. He died about an hour after he arrived at the hospital. Police investigators never determined a cause. They found no skid marks or mechanical problems. The grief-stricken Owens did not discuss Rich’s death publically for about 20 years. Owens finally lamented that “He was like a brother, a son, and a best friend. Something I never said before, maybe I couldn’t, but I think my music life ended when he died. Oh yeah, I carried on and I existed, but the real joy and love, the real lightning and thunder is gone forever.”

The motorcycle prejudice may have affected police investigators in this case. Many people believe, deep down, that motorcycle riders are reckless thugs who, at least to a large extent, are responsible for motorcycle accidents. This attitude was especially prevalent in the Hell’s Angels days of the 1970s.

This prejudice may be less today, but it still exists. To obtain maximum compensation, a Hamilton personal injury lawyer must confront this prejudice head-on. Attacking the prejudice itself usually backfires. No one wants to be called a bigot. Instead, a lawyer usually separates a victim from the prejudice. So, jurors may still believe that riders, in general, are reckless thugs, but that this victim is an exception to the rule.

Gary Gabelich, 1984

Future test astronaut and daredevil Gabelich started in Rockwell’s mail room in 1967. As a test astronaut, he mostly doubled for Wally Schirra, who was a Mercury astronaut in the 1960s and later commanded Apollo 7. In the early 70s, Gabelich set multiple land speed records in a rocket car, the last of which was not broken until 1983, and was nearly killed when he crashed an experimental four-wheel drive funny car. He nearly lost an arm and wore a leg cast for more than a year.

In 1984, the 43-year-old Gabelich was working on yet another experimental supersonic car when he was killed in a motorcycle wreck. Not surprisingly, he was speeding when he hit a truck.

Although he was clearly responsible for the single-vehicle wreck, Gabelich’s death introduces the eggshell skull rule. By most accounts, his 1984 wreck was serious, but probably not catastrophic (life-threatening). However, the injuries he sustained in the funny car crash contributed to his death.

Similarly, if a victim has an old injury, a pre-existing medical condition, or an “eggshell skull,” a Hamilton personal injury lawyer can still obtain maximum compensation. An insurance company does not get a financial windfall because the victim had a weakness.

Contact a Determined Butler County Lawyer

Injury victims are entitled to substantial compensation. For a free consultation with an experienced personal injury attorney in Hamilton, contact Kruger & Hodges, Attorneys at Law, by going online or calling 513-894-3333. We do not charge upfront legal fees in these cases.

Tell Us About Your Case

  • Hidden
  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.