Harley Davidson under Investigation over Motorcycle Brake Failure | Ellis Injury Law

Harley Davidson under Investigation over Motorcycle Brake Failure

July 25, 2016

Ellis Law Corporation


Harley Davidson is at the center of a government investigation following a series of reports of motorcycle brake failures. In early July, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced the investigation after receiving 43 reports of brake failure; three resulted in crashes, and two ended in injuries.

The investigation affects approximately 430,000 motorcycles that feature an anti-lock braking system, including model years from 2008 through 2011. According to the NHTSA, the brakes on these models may be susceptible to corrosion of the ABS module; Harley Davidson recommends owners to replace the brake fluid every two years and if they do not do that with these models, the used brake fluid that remains in the bike absorbs environmental moisture that may contribute to the corrosion.

This is not the first Harley Davidson brake problem. In 2014, the company recalled over 66,000 bikes because riders were reporting that the brakes were suddenly engaging on their own. The company reported five known crashes involving two minor injuries discovered through warranty claims.

Motorcycle riders more prone to fatalities

Reports indicate that the Harley brake failure occurs suddenly and without warning, affecting the hand lever and foot pedal. One rider reported that his bike began to wobble while he was trying to brake when travelling 75 mph, narrowly avoiding catastrophe. Another had his front wheel freeze on the freeway.

The faulty Harley Davidson brakes only exacerbate an already existing threat – motorcycle riders are at great risk of traffic fatalities. In 2013, 56 of every 100,000 motorcycles was involved in a fatal traffic accident. Motorcycle riders were roughly 26 times more likely to die in a crash, per vehicle miles traveled, than passenger car occupants. Motorcycle riders were also five times as likely to be injured in a crash.

A functioning anti-lock brake system is a key piece of safety for a motorcycle. Stopping a moving motorcycle is more complicated than stopping a car because the front and rear wheels brake separately and if one locks, it can cause the bike to flip over. Motorcycles with anti-lock brakes were 37 percent less likely to be involved in fatal crashes than bikes without the feature.

Like the current brake failure, the 2014 recall of motorcycles experiencing front wheel lock-up involved an anti-lock braking system.

How a product liability lawyer can help

Unfortunately, if you ride a motorcycle, you may well find yourself traveling at high speeds across the freeway with little physical protection to surround you in case of an accident. Under these circumstances, a brake failure can be devastating. However, the law provides options for those who are injured by a defective product.

Motorcyclists who have been harmed by a faulty product may be entitled to compensation for their injuries and monetary losses. Choose a top-notch team to present your case. The product liability lawyers from Ellis Law have a proven track record and demonstrated commitment to fighting for the rights of injury victims in California.

Contact a Los Angeles personal injury attorney at Ellis Law at 310-641-3335 for a free case evaluation.