Now-Infamous Motorcycle Road Rage Incident Follows Grim Numbers on Fatalities, Injuries

While accidents involving motor vehicles are, unfortunately, all too common in the United States and not particularly unusual from a news reporting standpoint, occasionally accidents occur that are so offbeat or even bizarre that they generate sustained public interest, often from across the nation. One such incident occurred Sunday in New York City when a group of motorcycles and a sport utility vehicle had a fateful encounter that has captivated the nation and drawn the interest of San Francisco personal injury attorney Gregory J. Brod.

 

 

The incident in question involved a large group of motorcyclists who had gathered in New York City on Sunday for a planned but unauthorized ride that was disrupted by the police, and the motorcyclists ultimately ended up in a confrontation with a family of three in an SUV on the city’s Henry Hudson Parkway. While many details of the confrontation remain to be determined, a video from the helmet-mounted camera of one of the motorcyclists has surfaced on YouTube showing the motorcyclists surrounding the SUV, the two parties slowing down, and the SUV hitting one of the motorcycles from behind. After halting, the SUV suddenly accelerates forward, striking several of the motorcyclists as it tries to flee. One of the motorcyclists was seriously injured and remains in a hospital, but many of the remaining motorcyclists give chase to the SUV up the parkway and then onto the streets of the city. Along the way, the SUV briefly stops, and one of the motorcyclists attempts to open the SUV’s door before the vehicle takes off again. Eventually, though, once the SUV exits onto city streets, the motorcyclists manage to encircle the vehicle while it is stuck in traffic, and at least one of the motorcyclists is seen in the video attacking the SUV with his helmet.

The dramatic chase culminated in the beating of the driver of the SUV and, according to the New York Times, the wife of the driver said that she and her husband were terrified when what she called “a mob of reckless and violent motorcyclists” surrounded their SUV after it hit one of the motorcyclists from behind. Their fears and attempt to flee were justified, she said, by the eventual beating of her husband.

The injured motorcyclist has garnered much attention and sympathy, but setting aside liability in this particular incident, his injuries are reflective of a disturbing national trend. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, deaths and injuries from motorcycle collisions regardless of the cause rose from 2001 to 2008 in the United States. Here are a few of the CDC findings:

  • Between 2001 and 2008, motorcycle death rates increased 55 percent, with more than 34,000 motorcyclists having lost their lives during that period.
  • Between 2001 and 2008, the number of nonfatal motorcyclist injuries that were treated in an emergency department increased from nearly 120,000 injuries in 2001 to about 175,000 in 2008, with an estimated 1,222,000 motorcyclists treated in an ED for a nonfatal motorcycle-related injury.

California’s statistics on motorcycle-involved fatal and injury collisions mirrored the national figures from 2001 to 2008, according to the California Highway Patrol. However, the CHP reports that data from 2009 and 2010 show that motorcycle-involved collisions are down significantly in the Golden State. Interestingly and somewhat surprisingly, California is one of only 20 states and the District of Columbia to require motorcyclists to wear helmets, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. California is also the only state in the nation to officially state that, when done safely, so-called lane-splitting by motorcyclists is legal.

As all these facts and figures and the dramatic story from New York City suggest, every jurisdiction has its own laws regarding motorcycles and motor vehicles and that each accident presents its own set of circumstances and facts. It’s always advisable to seek the counsel of an experienced personal injury attorney such as Gregory J. Brod as soon as possible when one has been involved in an accident, and we urge you to contact the Brod Law Firm for a free consultation if you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a motorcycle or motor vehicle accident.
-James Ambroff-Tahan contributed to this article.

See Related Blog Posts:
Northern California Injury Lawyer on the Serious Consequences of Motorcycle Crashes

Legal and Safety Considerations: Lane-Splitting by Motorcycle Riders