Objects lying in the roadway can be a nightmare for motorcyclists, and debris and other objects have caused many motorcycle accidents over the years. Such was the case in early March when 57-year-old Bradley St. John was riding his motorcycle on East Avenue T in Littlerock. Bradley’s motorcycle collided with a pig, the force of which ejected St. John from his motorcycle and into the roadway where he was subsequently struck by a van following him. He later died of his injuries.
Officials are unsure where the pig came from. They also don’t know if the pig was alive or dead when St. John hit it. The area of Littlerock where the crash occurred, says officials, is also home to families who own livestock.
Although the investigation into what happened and who owns the pig that caused this accident is ongoing, it doesn’t take something as large as a pig to cause problems for a motorcyclist on the roadway. Road debris is a common and obvious peril to any driver, even drivers of standard passenger autos, but the danger is heightened even more for the motorcycle driver.
Motorcycles have just two wheels, making them more prone to serious accidents than other types of vehicles. The smallest debris—think gravel in the roadway from a construction project—can reduce the traction enough to lead to a serious motorcycle accident. And since there is no protective cage surrounding the motorcyclist like there is inside a car, debris can also fly up and strike the cyclist, causing injuries that way or leading to accidents where riders lose control.
Motorcycle accident claims involving road debris can be notoriously difficult to prove. The first step is determining how the debris ended up in the roadway, to begin with, or whether the entity tasked with maintaining the road and clearing any debris was to blame for the debris’ presence. Sometimes more than one person and/or entity are at fault.
Because it is sometimes the case that debris simply falls off a vehicle as it travels down the road, proving fault can be impossible in many cases. For example, a tire is lost from a big rig, or gravel spills from the back of a service truck. In the state of California, motorists can be fined heavily if objects or debris fall from their vehicles, and they can be held responsible in both civil and criminal court if the debris ends up causing harm. If it can be proven.
To prove liability, it has to be shown that the source of the debris knew about the debris and had time to clean it up. In the case of the pig lying in the road, the question will likely become did the person who owns the pig know that it was loose and had had enough time to corral the pig prior to the accident that took this man’s life? This may prove a challenge since an accident might happen just a few minutes after debris (or a pig, in this case) found its way to the roadway, which didn’t give time for the source of the debris (or the pig’s owner) to remedy the situation.