2013 - Midwest Motorcyclist
Motorcycling & Law Potential Liability for Backyard Mechanic Repairs by Dondi Vesprini As this publication hits the presses, assuming Mother Nature has granted us relief from our prolonged winter-like weather and has allowed us to move into Spring, many motorcyclists will be gearing up and entering into the 2013 riding season full force. For many, that will mean finalizing their modifications and making any last minute repairs to their bikes. Also, if you are the “gearhead” in your own club or circle of riders, you may also be finalizing modifications and repairs to bikes belonging to others to get their bike ready for riding, which brings me to this month’s topic. I read an interesting article online regarding the frustration of some motorcyclists who believe in the right of a person to repair and work on their own bikes, only to come across warning labels on various parts of the bike which advise that such parts are serviceable only by the manufacturer. The frustration that in many of these cases, besides being viewed as a ploy by the manufacturer to make sure it is the only one to profit on a necessary repair to the bike, is if the motorcyclist ignores the warning and attempts to make the necessary repairs, such work will quite possibly void any warranty on the bike as to those parts, which infringes on their right to work on a bike. Aside from any warranty issues, I am aware of no law that specifically prohibits a “backyard mechanic” from working on his/her own bike or the bike of another. If the person is confident enough in their own mechanic skills that they are willing to risk the voiding of any warranty on the motorcycle (and if not their own bike, then the bike owner is willing to accept such risk) in exchange for the right to work on the motorcycle, the law does not seem to serve to bar such activity. So in that regard, the gearhead does have the right to work on the motorcycle. However, as someone once said, “Freedom ain’t free.” In addition to the risk of voiding a warranty in some circumstances, the gearhead also runs the risk of exposing himself/herself to liability in the event they render a faulty repair to another’s bike. Such liability can extend to owing the bike owner for the cost of correcting their mistake, and also possible liability for voiding the bike owner’s warranty by working on the labeled parts without first obtaining the bike owner’s specific consent to do so against the warning of the label. Equally, if not more important, can be liability for the claim of someone who sustains injury due to the faulty repair, be it the bike owner or another person who was injured in an accident caused by the faulty repair. If the cause of the injury producing accident can be traced back to the faulty repair or bike modification, the gearhead can be held liable for damages sustained by the injured person. This could be potentially crippling to the person who worked on the bike as I know of no insurance out there that extends coverage to “backyard mechanics” for weekend wrenching on a friend’s bike. The bottom line is, by and large, a “backyard mechanic” is free to work on his/her own bike or the bike of another, but as with most freedoms, they come with a potential price. As always, if anyone has any questions or if I can be of legal assistance to you or anyone you know who has been injured in a motorcycle accident, please don’t hesitate to contact me as I deal with these types of claims on a daily basis on behalf of injured motorcyclists statewide. Give me a call at (248-569-4646) or shoot me an e-mail at Dondi@buckfirelaw.com. Dondi is a licensed attorney in the state of Michigan and is recognized as an expert in cases involving motorcycle accidents. He is a member of the Board of Directors of ABATE of Michigan and meets frequently with both legislators and lobbyists regarding legislation affecting injured motorcyclists. TRAILER SALES, RENTALS, SERVICE & STORAGE 1- and 2-place motorcycle trailers for sale or rent firstname.lastname@example.org (734) 783-6464 12620 N. Telegraph Carleton, MI Mon thru Fri 9 to 6 • Sat 9 to 3 Rentals starting at $30 a Celebrating our 21st year! Try Kelley & Sons Trailer Rental LLC to get your bike to your destination!!! We sell a complete line of open & enclosed motorcycle trailers at affordable prices. 6 www.midwestmotorcyclist.com May 2013 day!
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