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Motorcyclist paralyzed in crash due to tinted taillights

There are a number of factors that lead to motorcycle accidents. Often, drivers of cars and trucks fail to see motorcycles and make the dangerous mistake of cutting one off or turning into one. It is rarer to learn of a motorcycle accident that occurs because a motorcyclist did not see a car, but that is what led to a major accident and a lawsuit that was settled recently in St. Louis County.

The accident involved a truck driver who had his taillights dimmed in 2010 with a paint called "Nite-Shades," in an effort to make his car look cool. Instead, it caused a 17-year-old motorcyclist to be unable to see the truck in front of him in Wildwood on Highway 109 one evening in April of that year. The motorcyclist crashed into the truck as a result, suffering paralyzing injuries.

The teenager sued the truck driver and the mechanic who helped the car pass a state inspection, and that case was ultimately settled outside of court for a total of $1.8 million.

He also sued Sherwin-Williams, which manufactures the tint, for $28 million. The lawsuit stated that the product was defective and that Sherwin-Williams did not warn users about the risks. On Thursday, a jury decided, however, that the company was not liable.

The cans of paint reportedly state that the tint is meant only for off-road use. However, in many defective products cases, companies can be liable for injuries or fatalities even when the product is not used as directed. This is because when it comes to many products, companies have knowledge that the product is likely going to be used in a certain dangerous way.

In the state of Missouri, taillights must be red and visible from at least 500 feet. This law is typical nationwide. The truck in this case had passed a state inspection, but a friend of the truck driver was the one who approved the test.

While this case did not end well for the victim, it should still be a lesson for anyone who wishes to modify their taillights. This is an extremely dangerous trend, and those who engage in it may cause car accidents and be held accountable.

Source: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, "St. Louis County lawsuit is 'cautionary tale' on obscuring taillights," Jennifer Mann, Feb. 1, 2013

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