Road accidents involving cyclists have been increasing in recent years. In 2015, the U.S. Department of Transportation published a report that noted pedal-cyclist fatalities had increased by 12 percent year-on-year. Over 800 people were killed in traffic-related bicycle accidents in 2015, and around 45,000 injured. According to CDC data, fatal and non-fatal crash-related injuries to bicyclists results in lifetime medical costs and productivity losses of $10 billion per year.
Many of these bicycle accidents are caused by human error and misjudgment; however, many others were undoubtedly caused by bike defects, a reality for which manufacturers must held accountable.
Joe Lyon is a highly rated Cincinnati Catastrophic Injury and Ohio product liability lawyer representing plaintiffs nationwide in a wide variety of consumer product liability and bike defect cases.
Bicycle recalls are routinely announced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The safety agency has recalled millions of bicycles due to cracking frames, breaking forks, faulty chains, failing brakes, and for the following reasons:
• Cracking during the manufacturing process
• Use of improper materials
• Defective Design
• Negligent Installation
• Fork failure
• Defective carbon fiber frames
• Defective brakes
• Defective wheels
• Defect on quick-release hubs on front wheels
• Failure to meet other safety standards
In the majority of bicyclist deaths, the most serious injuries are to the head, highlighting the importance of wearing a bicycle helmet. Hospital data shows that over 40 percent of cyclists suffer head injuries in all recorded accidents. However, helmet use has only been estimated to reduce the odds of head injury by 50 percent. The most serious injuries can include the following;
• Spinal cord injuries
• Limb injuries
• Traumatic brain injuries
• Orthopedic trauma
• Severe road rash
• Facial fractures
Even the most expensive bicycles on the market, which can cost thousands of dollars, have defects that can endanger consumers. For example, in 2015 Trek initiated one of the largest bicycle recalls in U.S. history, even for its top line bicycles. The recall was for 900,000 bicycles sold in the U.S. after a 2014 bicycle accident in which a rider was paralyzed. A notice from the Consumer Product Safety Commission said there had been three incidents where riders were injured when an open quick release lever on the front wheel came in contact with the front disc brake.
This was part of the biggest recall in the history of the bicycle industry. It involves 1.5 million bikes, and 13 companies representing 17 bicycle brands. Bicycles dating back as far as 1998 were included in the recall. The companies included:
• In 2016, Cannondale recalled 28,000 bicycles with OPI stem/ steering tube assemblies that may fail.
• In 2014, SRAM recalled an undisclosed number of bicycle brakes because the brake systems were reported to have failed, posing crash and injury risk. There were over 95 reports of brakes failing.
• In 2012, Specialized recalled 12,000 bikes due to issues with the front fork breaking. Reports of injury included head trauma, facial fractures, and shoulder injuries.
Adding to the woes of cycling consumers, defective bicycle helmets have also been recalled in large numbers in recent years. Manufactures that have recalled defective helmets include the following:
• Triple 8—Little Tricky
• Bell Exodus
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident and suspect it may have been due at least in part to a defect with the bicycle or helmet, it is critical to preserve the evidence and all parts. Take photos at the scene and contact an injury lawyer as soon as possible.
An experienced product liability lawyer can assist in evaluating the root cause of the failure. To build a compelling case, there must be evidence that the design of the bike was defective, a manufacturing defect existed, or the manufacturer was negligent in the manner in which the bike was tested or sold. The Lyon Firm works with design engineers and metallurgists to determine the root cause of the bike failure to trace the defect back to a design or manufacturing source.