The Motorcycle Helmet that Failed and Brain Damage that Followed

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Motorcycle and helmet on the street after dangerous traffic incident

The True Tale:

Jane loved to hold onto her fiancée John as his motorcycle powered along gracefully in the open air. With her arms locked around him, she felt she was gliding through space. What a thrill! And then it happened… a passenger car ran a stop sign and struck John’s motorcycle with a thunderous blow. Jane lost her grip instantly and went flying through the air, tragically hitting her head on the hard pavement. Although Jane was wearing a standard safety helmet marketed by one of the largest manufacturers in the country, the violent impact severely damaged her brain.

As for the offending driver of the car, he carried minimum liability insurance that would barely have covered Jane’s ER bills. Add the hospital expenses that Jane incurred while she was in a coma for weeks, together with a long period of nursing and rehab treatment, and you can now appreciate what she would have to face financially. But the question that gnawed at our firm was, “Why didn’t Jane’s type of helmet, which was also was employed by police departments throughout the nation, protect her head?”

Although the manufacturer had been brought to court a number of times for helmet failure, it never lost a case. But litigation difficulties never stopped us before. And it didn’t dissuade us then! We knew that Jane’s helmet failed her and it was our sole mission to unlock the reason why that happened. So, undeterred, this was our course of action…

We searched the nation to locate an outstanding helmet expert. And we found him! Located in the Midwest, he was a mechanical engineer with impressive academic credentials, and he operated a testing laboratory. We then engaged him to perform impact tests on Jane’s helmet. After countless hours of varying scientific experiments, our answer to the big question finally emerged. And, here it is…

Our expert, throughout his entire testing process, eventually discovered an extremely subtle defect in the head-safety product. He found that Jane’s helmet failed to absorb all of the penetrating G-forces (energy), considering the severe impact she suffered. Although the defense fought vigorously to support the integrity of the helmet, the jury found otherwise. It returned the first verdict against the manufacturer in its history.

Fortunately, through the years, with good medical and nursing care, combined with her strong will to survive, Jane’s serious condition has improved. The other good news is that the helmet design was modified to absorb devastating G-forces that are violently released in a serious impact situation. Fighting for Jane and for justice, in particular, and for the consumer by elevating safety standards, in general, was, and is, most gratifying to our firm. End of Story.

The Message:

  • “SURVIVAL IS THE GOAL. RETREAT IS DEFEAT”

Leonard L. Finz, age 96, is a decorated WWII veteran (1st Lt., Field Artillery, Philippines), a former New York State Supreme Court Justice, Peer-Reviewed as “One of America’s Preeminent Lawyers”, and the Founder of Finz & Finz, P.C.