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Bicycle Product Liability – Recent Recalls

Serious injuries can occur when your bicycle components fail. The most common injuries resulting from bicycle product liability cases are brain injury, fractures to the collarbone, arms and wrists, road rash and bruises. Equipment failure is usually due to defects and is commonly referred to as product liability. The most common product liability suits related to bicycles involve wheels, fork, and frame. When these parts fail, especially if they are carbon, a cyclist can lose control of their bicycle and in some cases, serious injuries can result. If your equipment fails, you may have a product defect claim.  

What to do if Your Bicycle Equipment Fails

DO NOT REPAIR YOUR BICYCLE! The first instinct is to repair something that’s damaged. However, in the event of bicycle equipment failure, you need to keep your bicycle in its damaged condition as evidence of the defect and damage to your bike. Take as many photographs as needed to document the damage to your bicycle equipment.

If you were injured as a result of equipment failure, take photographs of your injuries and seek emergency medical treatment if necessary, or visit your primary care doctor. Save copies of all your medical bills.

Contact EB Cycling Law and we can help you determine if your equipment failure meets the requirements for a product liability claim. We are specialists with unparalleled experience representing injured cyclists in product liability cases. 

Do You Have A Product Liability Case?

There are three major types of product liability lawsuits:

  • Design defect – A product has defective design if the design of the product is inherently dangerous when used in a foreseeable manner. The defect occurs in the design process. An example would be a carbon fork that is designed with inadequate carbon and other materials to sustain the weight of someone riding a bike. This can result in catastrophic failure of the carbon and result in serious head and upper body injuries.
  • Manufacturing defect – A manufacturing defect exists if a product is not made to the specifications of the design engineers. At EB Cycling Law we have represented injured persons whose bike, wheels, or fork have failed because they were not made appropriately. For example, we have represented persons whose fork collapsed because there were spaces and voids in the carbon.
  • Failure to warn consumers – A manufacturer, retailer or anyone in the chain of commerce can be liable for failure to warn customers of dangers related to the product.

To prevail on a claim for product liability a plaintiff must prove four things:

  • That the defendant designed, manufactured, distributed or sold a defective product
  • That the product contained the defect when it left the defendant’s possession
  • That the plaintiff used the product in a reasonably foreseeable manner
  • That the plaintiff suffered harm as a result of the defective product

A product defect is any characteristic of a product which hinders its usability for the purpose for which it was designed and manufactured. Injuries to consumers can occur when they aren’t warned about safety issues, or have not been properly instructed on how to use the product, or have not been notified that a defective product has been recalled and continue to use it.

STRICT LIABILITY

Product liability claims which focus exclusively on a product instead of negligence by a manufacturer are strict liability claims. Strict liability means a manufacturer is responsible for injury to a plaintiff even absent negligence on the manufacturer’s part. Product liability lawsuits are usually based on strict liability.

Strict liability also entitles the purchaser and other potential parties to sue for damages suffered as a result of injury from a defective product. Even if a seller has exercised diligence in the preparation and sale of a product, the seller may still be held liable for damages.

California applies its strict product liability laws to all products put into the stream of commerce and sold to the public, including recreational gear, such as bicycles and their component parts. All parties in the chain of distribution, including the companies that designed, manufactured, produced and distributed the product, as well as the retail store where you purchased the product are liable for injuries resulting from defective products. Potentially all parties or just one party within the chain of distribution of a single product could be liable for damages without being proved the party at fault.

The following bicycles and/or components were recalled within the last year: 

  • Specialized Bicycle Components recalls bicycles for crash hazards. The fork on the bicycle can break and cause the rider to lose control, posing a crash hazard. This recall involves all model year 2018 Specialized Allez (Base), Allez Sport, and Allez Elite road racing bicycles. The recalled bicycles have an alloy frame and composite fork.
  • Allen Sports of Portsmouth, New Hampshire is recalling about 150 UltraX and Ultra1 folding bicycles. The bike’s frame can break during use causing the bicycle to collapse, posing a fall hazard to consumers. The recall involves Allen Sports model Ultra1 and UltraX carbon fiber folding bicycles. “ULTRA X” or “ULTRA ONE” are printed on the bicycle’s frame.
  • Norco Bicycles of Canada recalled about 1,800 children’s bicycles with Samox cranksets sold in the U.S. and Canada. The cranks can bend or break during use, posing a fall hazard. This recall involves 2015, 2016 and 2017 model year Norco children’s bicycles with Samox SAC30-111NA square taper bicycle cranks in 140mm and 152mm lengths. The crank model number AC30 is located on the inside of both crank arms, and the crank length is stamped at the end of each crank arm. Included in this recall are 20- and 24-inch wheeled bicycles with the following model names: Storm 2.1, Storm 4.1, Charger 2.1, Charger 4.1, Fluid HT 2.3, Fluid HT 4.3, Fluid FS 2.2, and Fluid FS 4.2.  The model name is located on the top tube of the bicycle.
  • Cycling Sports Group of Wilton, Conn., is recalling about 1,240 GT mountain bicycles sold in the U.S. and Canada. The handlebars can crack, posing a fall hazard to the rider. This recall involves model year 2017 GT mountain bicycle models: Karakoram Sport, Karakoram Comp, Aggressor Sport, Aggressor Comp and Aggressor Expert. The bikes were sold in a variety of colors including, black, blue, gunmetal grey and neon yellow. Only models with (1) a solid black GT logo on the downtube and (2) a stem marked “Ø31.8 9-10N.m” are included in the recall.
  • Rocky Mountain Bicycles, the brake cable housing was not secured properly on bicycles during manufacturing, which can cause brake failure, posing a crash hazard to the rider.

You can check if your bicycle or any component parts are the subject of a recall on the Consumer Products Safety Commission’s website: www.CPSC.gov. 

Requirements for Bicycles

A bicycle is defined by the Code of Federal Regulations as either (1) a two-wheeled vehicle having a rear drive wheel solely human-powered; or (2) a two- or three-wheeled vehicle with fully operable pedals and an electric motor of less than 750 watts (1 h.p.), whose maximum speed on a paved level surface, when powered solely by such a motor while ridden by an operator who weighs 170 pounds, is less than 20 mph.

The bicycle requirements cover two different types of bicycles. Those with a seat that is more than 25 inches above the ground when the seat is adjusted to its highest position must meet all of the requirements. Sidewalk bicycles – those with a seat height of 25 inches or less – are exempt from some of the requirements or have other alternative requirements.

The requirements for bicycles can be found in the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) in Title 16, Part 1512. If your bike does not meet the requirements below it may be defective and dangerous to ride.

  • A bicycle may not have unfinished sheared metal edges or other sharp parts that may cut a rider’s hands or legs.
  • Control cables must be routed so that they do not fray from contact with fixed parts of a bicycle or with the ends of the cable sheaths. The ends of control cables must be capped or treated so that they do not unravel.
  • Bicycles must have front and rear brakes or rear brakes only. Sidewalk bikes may not have hand brakes only. Sidewalk bikes with a seat height of 22 inches or more, when adjusted in the lowest position, must have a foot brake. A sidewalk bike with a seat height of less than 22inches need not have any brake as long as it does not have a freewheeling feature, has a permanent label saying “No brakes,” and has the same statement on its advertising and shipping cartons.
  • Pedals must have treads on both sides. However, pedals that have a definite side for the rider to use only have to have a tread on that side. Pedals intended to be used only with toe clips do not have to have treads as long as the toe clips are firmly attached to the pedals. However, if the clips are optional, the pedal must have treads.
  • Bicycle pedals must have reflectors. Sidewalk bicycle pedals do not have to have reflectors.
  • A wheel must have all of its spokes and be at least 1/16 inch away from each side of the fork and from any other part of the frame as the wheel turns. When the wheel is tested with a side load of 450 lbf, the tire and spokes must stay on the rim. Sidewalk bikes do not have to meet the side load requirements.
  • Generally, bicycles must have a colorless front reflector, recessed colorless or amber reflectors on the back and front sides of the pedals, and a red reflector on the rear. They must also have a reflector mounted on the spokes of each wheel, or reflective front and rear wheel rims or tire sidewalls.
  • The front and rear reflectors must be mounted so that they do not hit the ground when the bicycle falls over.
  • The side reflector on a front wheel must be colorless or amber, and the rear wheel side reflector must be colorless or red. Reflective material on the sidewall or rim of a tire must go around the entire circumference, must not peel, scrape, or rub off, and must meet certain reflectance tests.

If you or your loved one has been injured in a cycling accident, contact EB Cycling Law right now for a free, confidential consultation.