Common Misconceptions Regarding Motorcycle Accidents
Interviewer: What would you say are some of the top misconceptions that people have about motorcycle accidents?
Stephen Boutros: Well, people often think that it’s negligent to ride a motorcycle, and that’s not the definition of negligence. The definition of negligence is failure to act as a reasonable and prudent person under the same or similar circumstances. Often times when we’re picking juries, and I ask a jury panel of thirty-six or forty-eight people, before they’ve heard any evidence in the case. They don’t know anything about how the crash happened. They don’t know anything about the facts as to how the accident occurred. I just ask them the simple question, “Who here thinks it’s negligent to ride a motorcycle?” You’ll see twenty-five, thirty-five percent of the people out there raising their hands.
25 to 35 Percent of People Think that Riding a Motorcycle is Negligent Behavior Even If Traffic Laws Are Not Violated
You ask a follow up question, ” Even if you’re obeying the traffic laws is it negligent in and of itself to ride a motorcycle on the roads in Harris County?” Twenty-five to thirty-five percent of the people raise their hand and say, “Yes, riding a motorcycle is dangerous so it’s negligent.” That’s not what the law says, but that’s the perception that people have. You can imagine how difficult it is to change people’s perception throughout the course of a two or three day jury trial.
People are Generally Biased against Motorcycle Riders
I handle a lot of motorcycle cases, and it is very very important that you understand that the difficulties, the prejudices, and the word prejudice means prejudgment okay? It’s not always a racial term. It just means prejudgment, and often what you see, you have to understand that people are going to prejudge motorcycle operators, and as a lawyer it’s your job to build the case in such a way that you can overcome those prejudices. You have to understand the law, and you have to prepare your case, and get ready to educate a jury as to what the law is, and educate your client on how to handle themselves in explaining their reasons for operating a motorcycle and how they operated the motorcycle.