$3.1 million verdict for motorcyclist.

A Philadelphia jury just awarded the estate of a motorcycle rider $3.1 million in a case involving the admissibility of a GoPro video recording. The death of the cyclist is tragic. However, the result of this case is encouraging for those of us who ride.

The Facts

Calvin Wilson and his friend had been riding their motorcycles throughout Philadelphia. Wilson had recorded their ride with a Go Pro video camera, which he mounted on his motorcycle. The recording showed that in the half-mile before the accident, he popped three wheelies.

Kahlile Gray was driving in the opposite direction in a Dodge Durango and both lanes of travel had green lights. Wilson was not speeding.

Wheelies? So What?

In an accident scenario I see much too often, Gray tried to make a left-hand turn into the cyclist’s lane of travel, killing the cyclist.

When police arrived on the scene, the Durango driver’s eyes were bloodshot and he was lethargic. Expert testimony showed that the Durango driver was drunk.

The Durango driver admitted liability and the trial judge admitted edited portions of the GoPro video which included the cyclist’s wheelies.

The Go Pro video recording totaled 40 minutes of footage, and the trial court permitted the jury to see 17 minutes of the video. These 17 minutes demonstrated the cyclist’s purportedly aggressive and careless driving shortly before the accident. The portion of the video that the trial court did not show occurred long before the accident.

Verdict For Cyclist Upheld

The Pennsylvania Superior Court affirmed the verdict for the cyclist’s family ruling that the edited video was properly admissible because the earlier portions were irrelevant.

The Takeaway

First, the court’s decision was not legally that important. Editing out portions of a 40-minute video unrelated to the accident is notground-breaking from a legal perspective and was certainly supported by the evidence.

Second, the cyclist’s death is one of the most frequent scenarios for a motorcyclist’s injury. Cyclists are killed most often by drivers turning in front of them, which is why highway driving, although boring, is statistically so much safer even with the higher speeds.

Finally, and perhaps, most importantly, this jury was not influenced by evidence the cyclist had performed wheelies in the 40 minutes before the fatal collision.

We so often hear that juries believe motorcyclists are dangerous and that riding motorcycles means “proceed at your own risk.”

Having a jury hold a drunk driver accountable despite the irrelevant wheelies is great to see. Justice was done.

If you are a rider and have questions about your legal rights, give me a call or email me at [email protected]

Please stay safe out there. The texting, drunk, distracted, blind drivers out there are all trying to kill us.

~Jerry Geiger

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