The day a child gets their first bike competes with the day they ride their bike without training wheels as one of the best memories of childhood. Parents encourage their kids to ride bicycles for exercise and fun. Yet, children who ride bicycles face real risks when on the road, including quiet neighborhood streets. Distracted drivers, drunk drivers, and other types of careless drivers can cause a bicycle accident. Children often suffer severe consequences because of their small size.
If your child or teen has suffered injuries in an accident caused by a negligent or reckless driver, then Nebraska law entitles you to seek compensation for damages in civil court. Contact the skilled legal team at Robert Pahlke Law Group at (308) 633-4444 for a free consultation to determine the best path forward for you and your family.
Common Bicycle Accident Injuries
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates more than one-third of all bicycle injuries seen in the nation’s emergency rooms are children and teens. Bicycle accidents might cause a variety of injuries depending on the circumstances surrounding the accident; however, children face the likelihood of more severe injuries because of their relatively low body weight and small body frames. A collision between a child on a bike and a motor vehicle almost always involves the child being thrown from the bicycle.
Injuries a child might suffer during a bicycle accident include:
- Skull fractures and head injuries, including those causing mild to severe traumatic brain injuries, even when the child wears a helmet (although helmets do significantly reduce the risk of these injuries)
- Fractured and broken bones, including extremities and facial bones
- Lacerations and scrapes which might leave permanent scars
- Dislocated shoulders, hips, and other joints
- Back and spinal cord injuries, which might result in partial or full paralysis
- Neck injuries
Recovering Damages After Your Child Is Involved in a Bicycle Accident
If your child sustains an injury in a bicycle accident caused by a negligent driver, you might recover the following damages in a settlement or verdict in your favor:
- Medical costs including ambulance and emergency services, hospitalization, radiology, surgery, prescription medication, and follow-up visits
- Rehabilitation expenses including physical therapy and assistive devices including crutches, wheelchairs, and artificial limbs
- Lost wages for parents who must care for children after bike accidents and for teens who have missed work due to injury and hospitalization
- Lost earning capacity when a permanent disability prevents a child from seeking meaningful employment as an adult
- Pain and suffering
- Loss of quality of life
- Other non-economic costs applicable to a specific case
There is generally no cap on these types of damages in Nebraska. However, so-called punitive damages are not allowed.
In the event your child died as a result of a bike accident, you might be able to recover damages in a wrongful death suit including any medical expenses you paid, funeral expenses, and loss of society, comfort, and companionship.
Liability in Bicycle Accidents Involving Children
Determining liability in traffic accidents is rarely simple, and an accident involving a child on a bicycle only compounds the difficulty. Many different scenarios, including the child technically causing the accident, can lead to a bicycle accident. Yet, prevailing in a personal injury suit requires proving the liable party was negligent or otherwise legally-liable. Drivers have a duty of care to those with whom they share the road. This means they have a duty to follow traffic laws and drive carefully. When children are around, drivers have a heightened duty of care. Drivers in residential areas and school zones, the places where child bike accidents often occur, must pay special attention to their surroundings to watch for children. Failure to do so will likely result in the court finding a driver negligent when a vehicle strikes a child on a bike.
Although it isn’t common, bicycle accidents and injuries involving children might result from a defective product. For example, a child who sustains a severe injury because a defective bike helmet failed may have the right to recover damages from the helmet manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer. Similarly, if a defective bicycle or bike tire causes an accident, and your child suffers injury, the bike manufacturer, wholesaler, or retailer might be responsible for damages.
Contributory Negligence in Child Bike Accidents in Nebraska
Those who are named as defendants in a personal injury lawsuit (and their insurance companies) will pull out all of the stops to avoid liability for paying large claims. Expect insurance companies to question the severity of an injury or claim your child’s injury occurred elsewhere. One common defense for personal injury suits in Nebraska includes contributory negligence, the notion the plaintiff partially contributed to the accident. This defense is weak against young children, but the defendant’s lawyers might use contributory negligence if your teenager was in a bicycle accident.
Under “contributory negligence” rules, once the court determines the driver was negligent, it assigns a percentage portion of fault to each party in the lawsuit. The court reduces damages awarded by the percentage fault assigned to the plaintiff. For example, you sue for $100,000, and the court finds your teenager is 20 percent at fault for the accident for not using a proper hand signal to indicate a turn. In this example, you cannot recover more than 80 percent or $800,000 in damages. Contributory negligence in Nebraska motivates the defense to shift as much blame to the victim as possible to avoid liability.
Contact an Experienced Nebraska Bicycle Accident Attorney Today
Whenever you let your child or teen ride a bike, you need to reinforce bike safety, require them to wear a helmet, and remind them to be aware of their surroundings. Yet, even teaching your kids about bike safety and requiring helmet you, they still face a risk of being in a bicycle accident and suffering serious injuries.
If your child has sustained an injury or died in a bicycle accident, you need to contact a skilled personal injury attorney to help you seek full and fair compensation for damages related to the accident. Your attorney can handle the details of the lawsuit, while you focus on helping your child recover from their injuries to the best of their ability. Contact the bicycle accident lawyers at The Robert Pahlke Law Group at (308) 633-4444 or online for a free consultation to discuss the details of your case.