Wrongful Death

Just Because You Take Risks, Doesn’t Mean It’s Your Fault

There is an assumption about motorcyclists: because they have chosen to ride a bike, it’s on them if something bad happens. This is, of course, wrong. When people ride roller coasters and there’s an accident, no one claims it is on the riders of the ride, even though they did take the extra risk themselves.

This is true across the board with most activities, except for when we reach into the world of “extreme.” In that case, it’s often seen that skiers, skateboarders, rock climbers, and others in the extreme sports community are “asking for it” by doing these activities.

It seems the cutoff line is less about which activities are necessarily more dangerous than others (driving a car is probably more dangerous than parachuting out of a plane) and more about what activities the average person would be willing to do. Those activities that seem or feel more extreme than this median limit are considered too dangerous and therefore anyone performing those acts has no right to complain when things go wrong.

Consider a simple example. We already know no one blames the rollercoaster riders when an accident occurs, but what about a bungee jumper? Bungee jumping is performed by experts using quality equipment, yet if there is an accident, just watch the lack of sympathy. Are the two activities that different? Change the rollercoaster to one of the rides that raise you up and drops you. Now we’re experiencing almost the same thing, yet the reaction to it will be extremely different.

It is important, therefore, to push back against this narrative. Not only are these activities not all that different, the levels of danger are often not that different. Even if they are, that does not mean a person deserves the suffering of injury or even worse, death, because of this life choice.

This isn’t just an ethical point, legally, wrongful deaths can happen to motorcyclists just like they can to car drivers. In fact, wrongful death is more likely often not because of the motorcyclist but because of the drivers of other vehicles, who often do not show enough concern for the motorcyclists on the road by switching lanes and turning without looking.

This lack of concern may, again, tie back to the assumption deeply ingrained in many that those who choose to ride motorcycles deserve whatever happens and that no one should accommodate their recklessness.

There is no real difference between some discouraged behaviors and others that are considered perfectly reasonable in terms of danger. But, just as we might all go eat fast food and still look down on smokers, people will engage in behavior that is just as reckless in terms of statistical danger and still point the finger at others just for looking like they are doing something more dangerous.

These uninformed assumptions should stop. Anyone who is hurt or killed wrongfully deserves sympathy. How it happened should not matter.

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