Kids on bikes don’t have the benefit of a steel body and frame to protect them if they’re in a crash. They don’t have seat belts to restrain them or air bags to cushion the trauma of a wreck either. Other than perhaps a helmet, kids are virtually unprotected in the event of an accident.
As per the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1,000 bicyclists died in accidents in the nation in 2015. Almost 467,000 others were reported injured. Children between five and 14 years of age and adolescents between the ages of 15 and 19 had the highest rates of nonfatal bicycle accident injuries. They accounted for one-third of all bicycle accident injuries that were seen in emergency rooms in the United States.
The duty of the driver in California
Drivers of motor vehicles owe a duty of care to any children on a bicycle that might be on or near a roadway. They must keep a proper lookout and yield the right-of-way to child bicyclists when required to do so by law. When kids are around, judges have a tendency to hold drivers to a higher standard of care. If a motorist fails to exercise appropriate care and caution for the safety of a child on a bicycle, and a crash results, that motorist might be held liable for the child’s injuries or death.
Drivers don’t see them
A child on a bicycle presents a small visual profile. A driver’s attention might be focused on motor vehicle traffic, especially when preparing to make a turn or driving at night. Suddenly a bicycle comes into the driver’s path, and there’s a crash. Most drivers who have been in an accident with a bicyclist will say that they never even saw the bicycle, or they didn’t see it until it was too late.
Sometimes another driver isn’t involved in a child’s bicycle crash. Road or sidewalk conditions can cause an accident and severe injuries too. Potholes, deep cracks, uneven pavement and loose or improperly placed drain covers can all cause or contribute to a crash. Municipal entities and contractors can be held responsible for these accidents and injuries.
Whether a helmet was worn, speed and the type of impact are critical factors as to the nature and extent of child bicycle accident injuries. Perhaps the most dangerous scenario is when a child is thrown over the handlebars of a bike. They have no control over how they land, and head injuries are common. Those can include facial and skull fractures with secondary permanent brain damage. Other injuries might include:
- Spinal cord injuries resulting in paralysis
- Facial fractures
- Dental injuries
- Clavicle, arm, wrist and hand fractures
- Severe organ damage
Contact a Bicycle Accident Lawyer Today
Bicycle accidents involving children are not only difficult for parents. They can also be difficult for the lawyers who represent parents and children. Children are unpredictable, especially in their own neighborhoods where they feel safe on their bikes. Although drivers might place blame for the accident on the child, those drivers can become distracted and fail to yield the right-of-way. They might be speeding or even be driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The medical bills following a child bicycle accident can be overwhelming. Pain, suffering, specialized care and any permanent disabilities need to be factored into the financially and emotionally devastated family’s damages. If your child has been injured in a bicycle accident with a motor vehicle or poor road conditions or maintenance, contact our Bay Area Bicycle Law for a free consultation and case assessment. If we enter into a retainer agreement with you and your family, no legal fees would even be due unless we obtain a settlement or verdict for you.