PAMSP’s Legend document: What “fraudulent” says about MSF’s growing attitude

In the last entry, we began to discuss the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program’s 2009 Update. It presented crash configurations hitherto rare or unknown to rider ed as reasonably expected outcomes. While there’s evidence that these types of crashes MSF wants instructors to accurately describe do happen, it’s still not clear whether the document was prepared as “an abundance of caution” or a CYA. The next entries explore that question further in terms of what MSF says about injuries.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Incident Report Legend defines what kind of injuries belong in what category in the section on RiderCoach Description of Student Injury,: Complaint of Pain, Other Visible Injury, Severe Injury and Fatal Injury.

Fraudulent injuries?

The new “Complaint of pain” box is there for “authentic internal or other non-visible injuries and fraudulent claims of injury.” The types that should be listed as “complaints” are:

  • “1) Persons who seem dazed, confused, or incoherent.”
  • “2) Persons who are limping but do not have visible injuries.”
  • “3) Any person who is known to have been unconscious as a result of the incident, although it appears he/she has recovered.”
  • “4) Persons who say they want to be listed as injuried but do not appear to be so.”

Horse wasn’t the only one who questioned the word “fraudulent”. He said the student is in the best position to know whether he’s in pain and not the instructor. The presumption is that if a student claims to be in pain, they are in pain and should be treated as such. Instructors aren’t qualified to determine which injuries are real or fake based on what they can see or not see. Medical professionals wouldn’t dare to do that without more than what rider instructors have to go on.

But why raise the issue at all? “Fraudulent” conveys that instructors should be wary of—and even expect that—they are being duped, which, in turn, suggests the student has been plotting a lawsuit from the moment of the crash (or before?)

In reality, decades of experience have taught administrators it’s rare in the first place and students don’t fake injuries or make illegitimate complaints of pain at the time of the crash or soon after. Rather, long after the report has been filled out, filed and forgotten—and just before the statute of limitations expires—suddenly the former student claims an injury in the course has caused them pain and suffering. And those cases are extremely rare. None of them have ever felt a need to raise the idea that some claims of pain may be phony.

This is the first time the concept of “fraudulent” injuries appears in an MSF document—something new has emerged into the arena of rider ed in a way that was not challenged but assumed to be true. It reveals an adversarial attitude that assumes any incident could end in litigation. If instructors follow MSF’s lead, such an antagonistic attitude is hardly conducive to being a “guide on the side” who makes training fun.

If the legend is meant as an abundance of caution, it still gives the impression that MSF is increasing hostile and defensive—and either that’s paranoia or they have reason to believe that any incident can end in a lawsuit.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Motorcycle Safety Foundation, Motorcycle Training, Motorcycle training lawsuits, State Motorcycle Safety Programs

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