WhyBike Motorcycle Blog

In a crash, the motorcyclist is always at fault

By James - 4/24/2007

A recent verdict in a civil injury case awarded a biker $17.7 million after a accident that left the biker with permanent injuries. The case was not out of the ordinary, sadly people turn in front of motorcycles all the time. What struck me as outrageous was that the jury found the biker somewhat at fault, which reduced the amount he was awarded.

“Anytime a plaintiff is on a motorcycle, the jury will find them somewhat at fault, just because they’re on a motorcycle,” Mallabo lawyer David M. Ring said in explaining the jury’s decision he was 5 percent at fault.
To state that because I ride a motorcycle, I am automatically at fault in any crash is grossly prejudicial and unacceptable. I ride defensively. I wear all the safety gear, almost all the time. I do not see why I am at fault when another vehicle violates my right of way. Most people are driving vehicles that are too big for them to control. Why should they be protected for a poor choice of transportation? Why am I penalized for riding a motorcycle with limited capacity for injuring and killing others? I am writing a letter to my representatives right now. I suggest you do as well if you want to be protected in the event of a crash.

Full article below:

NORWALK, Calif.- A Taiwanese shipping firm must pay $17.7 million to a motorcyclist severely injured when the wife of the company’s U.S. president struck the bike with a company car.

Wen-Ting Tai turned a Wan Hai Lines company car into the motorcycle’s path on Oct. 23, 2004, four days after she made at least 16 mistakes and flunked the California driving test.

The Superior Court jury deliberated two days before deciding April 19 on the $18.6 million award. The panel said the motorcyclist, plaintiff Joyson Mallabo, was 5 percent at fault.

Mallabo, who was 23 at the time of the crash, was riding his motorcycle in Cerritos when Wen-Ting Tai turned left in front of him at an uncontrolled intersection. He suffered massive injuries and must now use a cane to walk.

“Anytime a plaintiff is on a motorcycle, the jury will find them somewhat at fault, just because they’re on a motorcycle,” Mallabo lawyer David M. Ring said in explaining the jury’s decision he was 5 percent at fault.

Wan Hai Lines attorney Douglas D. Cullins was out of the office in trial this week, a receptionist said, and a voicemail message left Tuesday wasn’t immediately returned.

The jury decided Wan Hai Lines must pay Mallabo $3.6 million for medical bills and lost wages and $15 million for past and future pain and suffering.

Tai’s husband Ching Tarng Lin was transferred to the company’s Long Beach office and his wife moved with him from Taiwan.

California law allows drivers to rely on foreign licenses as long as they don’t move permanently.

Tai attempted to obtain a California license four days before the accident but failed the road test. Failure means a driver made at least 16 mistakes during the test, Ring said.

“If you can’t pass the test, you shouldn’t be driving here,” Ring said.



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  1. Lame. I think it’s just silly that the majority of people still view motorcyclists as risk-takers and daredevils - or, at least, more so than most drivers out there. The truth is, the VAST majority of motorcyclists are much more aware of the road and are more serious about safety than people who can just jump behind the wheel of an automatic car (or huge pickup truck) and expect everybody to get out of their way. You take risks with any vehicle, but society is generally numb to the risks of cars because of the sheer number of drivers out there, and the fact that just about every adult has a driver’s license.

    Comment by SilverZero — 4/25/2007 @ 11:48 am

  2. I was also in a motorcycle crash a month before Joyson, we were two rooms apart at the same hospital. Unfortunately for me, I spent two months in a coma and the case was dropped with me being most at fault. I don’t remember the accident, but from what I was told I hit a dip in the road. Just because we ride, doesn’t make it our fault.

    Comment by Ian ‘Doc’ Singleterry — 4/26/2007 @ 7:48 pm

  3. Oh man, that is unbelievably WRONG.

    Comment by Dan — 5/1/2007 @ 8:31 am

  4. What happens when two motorcycles collide? How much do you discount the award then?

    Comment by Steve Johnson — 5/2/2007 @ 8:12 am

  5. If two bikes collide on the roadway does anybody care?

    Comment by James - Whybike.com — 5/2/2007 @ 2:02 pm

  6. What gets me most is not the prejudice towards bikers even though that does suck, but rather I am most bothered at how we bend over backwards to immigrants, legal and illegal. WHY in the world do we let them friggen DRIVE vehicles without passing a test??? It makes NO SENSE! Now I KNOW there is many a country I can’t simply use my California License and get to drive, oh no they want much much more assurance that I understand their rules of the road and that I am properly insured and so on, But here it’s like a free for all!

    Comment by Doug — 5/9/2007 @ 1:20 am

  7. For all the injuries, pain and suffering that Man and his family and close friends went thru I only got on thing to say ” He gots MONEY in tha Bank Shorty whut u Drank?” LOL Enjoy tha Moula Brotha Man.

    Comment by Buck Taylor — 5/9/2007 @ 8:48 pm

  8. He got $17 MILLION and he’s complaining?????

    Comment by oldryder — 3/26/2008 @ 6:01 am

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