Worth County Motorcycle Accident has interesting malfunction issue
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Posted on Jul 08, 2010
Worth County, Iowa - An interstate 35 crash involving a motorcycle killed the driver allegedly due to an engine malfunction. There was a 27-year-old passenger, Desiree Miller from Northwood who was seriously injured. She was taken to Mercy Hospital in Mason City. Trooper Keith Duenow describes the sequence as follows:
"VEHICLE 1 WAS NORTHBOUND ON I-35 AND LOST CONTROL DUE TO AN ENGINE MALFUNCTION VEHICLE CAME TO REST ON THE SHOULDER OF THE ROADWAY WITH THE DRIVER PINNED UNDERNEATH IT."
The 33-year-old driver was David Leegaard. There was no indication if helmets were used or would have made any difference. The report is unclear what the engine malfunction was or how that fact was determined by investigating officers. The trooper was assisted by officials from Worth and Cerro Gordo County. The accident location is the 207 mile marker in the northbound lanes of I-35. Time of the accident was 11:45 on June 9, 2010. Worth County is just south of the Minnesota-Iowa border.
Of course the first thing any trial lawyer wants to know is more about the engine malfunction. What was the malfunction and why did it happen when it did? When had the bike last been worked on and was this malfunction caused by a mechanic's shoddy work or the result of a lack of maintenance by the owner or just something no one could have anticipated or is responsible for creating. The bike is described as a 1985 Yamaha. That's not exactly a new bike, but if maintained properly it should be safe. I'm not sure how an engine malfunctioning can cause a driver to lose control of the steering, unless something comes loose and interferes with the steering mechanism. This may turn into an interesting fact case for the passenger. In Iowa the passenger does have a claim against a driver when the driver is at fault. Through the driver's negligence a passenger can have a claim against the owner. That's referred to as vicarious liability. The negligence of the driver is imputed to the owner by operation of law. The intention is to make owners more responsible for who drives their car or in this case motorcycle. This also pressures owners to carry liability insurance which in the State of Iowa is mandatory. We won't get into limits; that's a whole other can of worms too long for today's discussion.
See also Northwood man dies in motorcycle wreck, Ed Shannon, Albert Lea Tribune
RadioIowa, Motorcyclist dies in 1-35 accident in Worth County, Bob Fisher, KRIB
Engine trouble leads to Iowa motorcycle fatality, New Biker Store