An accident is traumatizing, especially if you were on a motorcycle. No matter who’s fault it is— you’re lucky to be alive after colliding with another vehicle. A motorcycle is smaller, more dangerous, and more difficult to balance. Unfortunately, many people forget motorcyclists are vulnerable, or have a desensitization to it, because of the image they portray. That of daredevils racing through traffic, when in all actuality, you’re just a weekend rider who finds it relaxing. This becomes a major issue in court, because it brings about jury bias. A rider who is not guilty, will often not be seen this way because of the stigma surrounding their hobby.
Jury Bias and Motorcyclists: Getting Past the Daredevil Stigma
First things first, what is jury bias?
If you’re not familiar, jury bias simply means that the jury has a bias towards one party, or thing, that keeps them from analyzing the situation fairly. For instance, say there is a mother who lost her son to a drunk driving accident— she is likely to vote the defendant, and supposed drunk driver, guilty every time.
So, why does this work against motorcyclists?
As we’ve said, many people— especially those unfamiliar with motorcycle riding or culture, have a stigma in their head. The leather wearing, reckless driving, daredevil who weaves through traffic and has zero regard for others. But, in all actuality, that is a stereotype just like any other stereotype. The reason that this is so prevalent an issue, is because motorcycle crashes are inevitably more severe. In short, if it’s going before a jury, ultimately, that person is in better shape than most motorcyclists who have crashed.
Not to mention, there is a huge gap between the number of us that drive a passenger car, and those of us who ride a motorcycle. So, many of us have no way to relate to those riders, or understand where they’re coming from in their argument. So, voila— most all of us would have jury bias to some degree.
We have to combat this by educating ourselves
If you find yourself on the jury for a motorcycle accident case, do your best to reflect on this that you’ve read. You must understand that these people are human, and a fender bender for them— is thrice that for them. They are not trying to drive dangerously or put you in danger— they are every day people just like us. Veterans, fathers, mothers, grandparents, cool uncles— bikers, are just like us. So, next time you’re left to decide their fate— consider what you don’t know, and keep an open mind.