Bicycle-safety campaigns have greatly increased the use of bicycle helmets in recent decades—a positive development, as riding a bicycle without a helmet puts the rider at risk of potentially deadly head injuries. But, the number of helmet users is still unacceptably low. According to statistics released by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) in 2013, only 11% of children involved in bicycle accidents were wearing helmets at the time.
Requiring your child to wear a helmet may not be enough, however. The helmet your child wears must be safely and properly made. A defective bicycle helmet may provide little more protection than no helmet at all, while a properly designed and manufactured one is likely to prevent serious injury. According to the Bicycle Helmet Institute (BHI), an estimated 85% reduction in head injuries occurs through use of non-defective bicycle helmets.
If your child has been injured when his or her bicycle helmet failed to do its job, defective child bicycle-helmet lawyer Jeff Killino can help. His legal team will help you identify the party responsible for your child’s injuries and build a persuasive legal case against that party. Call attorney Killino today at 877-875-2927 for experienced and aggressive legal assistance.
Selecting a Safe Bicycle Helmet
Information about choosing a good bicycle helmet is not as readily available as information about the importance of helmets in general. As a result, many parents are under the impression that any helmet they find will provide their children with adequate protection. This is a dangerous misconception. Before you purchase a bicycle helmet for your child, please consider the following safety tips:
- Look for the Consumer Products Safety Commission (CPSC) logo in any helmet you consider purchasing. The CPSC has strict standards for helmet design and manufacturing. A sticker with the letters “CPSC” on the inside of the helmet will indicate compliance with the standards that were current at the time the helmet was manufactured.
- Let your child try on different helmets before you choose one for purchase. The helmet you buy should be tight-fitting yet comfortable. A helmet that is too loose may not be very effective.
- Replace the helmet whenever your child is in a collision. The foam lining can become denser each time it is struck, making the helmet less safe over time. Also, be sure to replace any helmet with a broken buckle or other signs of damage.
Even when all of the above precautions have been taken, a poorly-made or defective bicycle helmet can still fail your child when it is needed most.
Legal Liability for Injuries Caused by Defective Bicycle Helmets
Those who manufacture, design, distribute, or sell defective bicycle helmets may be held liable for injuries sustained by a child who uses a defective helmet if the defect is found to have been a cause of the child’s injuries. An action against any one or all of such defendants is brought under the law of product liability, which requires proof of a defect, proof that the defect was a cause of the child’s injuries, and proof that the injuries resulted in legally compensable damages. Each one of these elements listed must be proved by a preponderance of the evidence and often requires the testimony of experts.
Proof of Defect
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has recalled bicycle helmets for defects known or suspected to cause injury. Helmets may be defective due to any of the following:
- chin straps reported to come off in a bicycle accident,
- failure to meet CPSC standards for impact protection
- faulty strap rivets
- poorly designed or manufactured helmet shells
- poorly designed or manufactured lining or padding
Testimony from experts in the construction and design of bicycle helmets may be required to establish that the helmet worn by your child when his or her injuries were sustained contained one of the defects listed above or any one of many other possible defects.
Plaintiffs in product liability actions generally allege defects in the product’s design or manufacturing or in a product’s failure to warn of dangers or proper use. Thus, in addition to faultily designed or manufactured helmets, those that have been sold without adequate instructions for proper use may be found defective, as well.
Proof of Causation
That a defect exists and that a plaintiff suffered injury is not enough without proof of causation. In fact, causation can be one of the most complex aspects of a product-liability action, requiring testimony from different experts than those used to establish a product’s defect.
In any product-liability action, whether brought under a negligence or strict-liability theory, the plaintiff must prove by a preponderance of the evidence that the product’s defect was an actual cause of the plaintiff’s injuries.
In order to meet the burden of proof on the element of causation, the plaintiff must establish that it was more likely than not that the defect was a cause of the child’s injuries. If, for example, a faulty chin strap caused the helmet to fly off at impact, the head injuries that would very likely have been prevented if the helmet had remained on the child may be found to have been caused by the chin-strap defect.
Proof of Injuries and Damages
A plaintiff must also offer proof of the existence of injuries as well as the extent of those injuries. In addition, the plaintiff must show that the particular injuries resulted in legally compensable damages.
In other words, not all negative effects of an incident or accident are compensable under the law, even when fault has been shown on the part of a defendant. A plaintiff who was not physically injured but was temporarily frightened, for instance, may not be allowed, in most cases, to recover compensation for such a minor emotional “injury.”
Product-liability actions involving injuries from defective bicycle helmets are extremely complex and require the assistance of an attorney experienced in personal-injury as well as product-liability law.
If a defective bicycle helmet has resulted in injury to your child, contact nationally-recognized child-injury and product-liability attorney Jeff Killino at 877-875-2927 to learn more about your legal options.