Harley Davidson “Wobble” Lawsuits Are Expert Intensive
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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021
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Lawsuits dealing with the Harley Davidson “wobble” – a condition that causes the rear of a motorcycle to sway or wobble – can require the use of various types of experts due to the complexity of the issue. We asked
Kevin Liebeck, a California attorney whose practice represents plaintiffs in personal injury, medical malpractice and products liability actions, to explain the issue and provide examples of the types of experts that might be needed.
Harley wobble / death wobble / rear steer
These are all phrases that are being used to describe the problem with some Harley Davidson motorcycles. Liebeck says that the issue is basically a problem in the manner in which the engine is mounted into the frame and is constrained within the frame from motion. He explained, “The reason this presents a problem is because the swing arm, the rear suspension member of the motorcycle which is the pivot point, is mounted to the aft end of the transmission on these Harley-Davidson motorcycles. If the engine is not constrained in all three axles, you can develop an elastic relationship between the swing arm and the frame of the motorcycle.”
A recipe for disaster
There are other variables that can exacerbate the Harley wobble. Liebeck told us, “We’ve seen instances of the cruise controls on these bikes sticking. That’s a big problem. In addition, a lot of these motorcycles have saddlebags and touring packs, which are similar to a three piece luggage set. One sits over the rear wheel and then there is a bag on either side of the bike. They’re made for those who are driving long distances and these bags are often packed full. The weight of the bags in relation to the wobble issue can be a recipe for disaster.”
Why experts are needed
These types of cases are very, very expert intensive, according to Liebeck. He provided examples of the types of experts that might be needed and why:
- Engineers. We’ll generally need one or more engineering experts that are able to testify as to the design, the problems with the design and why it is that these situations occur.
- Civil engineers. We may need a civil engineering or road expert of some sort, depending on where the situation occurred and under what circumstances, to tell us whether or not some problem with the road played any part in the accident. I would actually use the term ‘incident’ instead of ‘accident’ as the latter suggests that nobody could have seen this coming – which is not the case here.
- Private investigators. We may need to hire a private investigator to track down people who may have been witnesses to the incident.
- Physicians. We are going to need physicians as experts who are able to testify as to exactly what physical injuries a person has sustained, what the prognosis of those injuries are and what future surgeries or other treatments may be necessary.
- Life care planners. We’re going to need a life care planner who is able to determine what the cost of all that future medical care is going to be.
- Economists. We’re probably going to need an economist who’s going to be able to offer an opinion of what kind of past and future wage loss this person has sustained.
- Employment experts. We may also need an expert on employment issues, i.e., what sort of retraining this person might be qualified to receive if they’ve been rendered unable to do their job as a result of the incident.
It’s not a simple task, according to Liebeck, who said, “You really have to be able to marshal a whole lot of evidence to put this thing together, position the claim correctly and get all the evidence you need to prove your case.”
If you’ve been injured on a Harley Davidson motorcycle, contact an motorcycle accident attorney whose practice focuses in this area of the law. Consultations are free, without obligation and are strictly confidential.