What are the Legal Rights of Children Following a Bicycle Accident?  Importance of Helmet Use

Bicycle-Helmet-150x150Many States, including Florida, have helmet laws requiring children under a certain age to wear a bicycle helmet. With or without these laws in place, it is important from a safety standpoint that a child wear a helmet.  Whether the child is out for a short ride or a longer one, a bicycle helmet can make a big difference in preventing injuries from taking place or by reducing the severity of the injuries caused by a bicycle accident.

Nearly 50 children visit the emergency room every hour due to injuries sustained in wheeled sports activities, like riding a bicycle. Due to this risks of head trauma associated with bicyce riding, parents should go over basic bicycle safety with their children. While riding a bike, children should look both ways while crossing the street and walk their bikes while crossing busy intersections. If riding on the road, they should use bike lanes whenever possible and obey all traffic rules, but children under the age of 10 should stay on the sidewalks. Parents should teach their children the proper hand signals while biking and do regular maintenance on their bicycle to make sure it is safe. All of these techniques are important in keeping bicycle riders safe, but the most important precaution often goes overlooked – the bicycle helmet.

Wearing a helmet by bicycling is paramount in ensuring a child’s safety. Research shows that helmet usage does decrease the occurrence and seriousness of head injuries.  Despite this clear research, the statistics as to the non-use of helmets for children while riding a bicycle are staggering. It is estimated that 18% of parents claim their children never wear a helmet while biking. Parents can be quite lenient with their children as to helmet usage. Some children complain about the look or fit of their bicycle helmet, so parents (to avoid yet another right or argument) do not require their children to wear it. But this should not be the case. Helmets are the best method of preventing serious head injury if a rider falls or is hit by a car. The costs of a helmet is a small price to pay for this crucial safety measure.

In the State of Florida, children under the age of 16 are required to wear a properly fitted bicycle helmet while riding, pursuant to Section 316.2056 (1) (d), Florida Statutes—Bicycle Regulations. In a personal injury case, this law is only a factor if the child suffered a head injury and wasn’t wearing a helmet, as Florida is a comparative fault state. It is also important to note that, in Florida, bicyclists that are hit by cars are given the same rights as stricken pedestrians. If you are a parent whose child was hit by a vehicle while bicycling, contact a child injury attorney to discuss consultation or representation.

David A. Wolf is a Florida Child Injury Attorney with over 28 years of experience.  He is the author of the book titled Bikes, Trikes, and Automobiles – Legal Rights of the Injured Child.  The book has chapters on Medical Bills, Medical Treatment, Insurance, Settlement / Compensation, Wrongful Death, and other topics.  You can get the book for free at Bikes, Trikes, and Automobiles.