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What Legal Issues Are Involved with Helmet Use or Non-Use in a Child Bicycle Accident Case?

By David Wolf, Attorney
Published by Child Injury Lawyer Network

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In Alaska and other States, children are, at times, the unfortunate victims of bicycle accidents. Some children suffer only minor injuries while others suffer significant injuries. Some children even lose their lives as a result of a bicycle accident. It is important that every child form the habit of always wearing a bicycle helmet when riding a bicycle. Whether the child is merely riding around in the driveway or going on a longer bicycle ride, a helmet should always be worn. A child can be injured in a driveway as easy as a parking lot, roadway, sidewalk, or park. The use of a helmet is vital for a child’s safety. When there is a bicycle accident that leads to injury, one of the first questions asked by the police, medical providers, and attorneys is the following question:

Was the child wearing a bicycle helmet at the time of the bicycle accident?

In many States, a child is required to wear a helmet. Whether there is a law in place or not, a child should always wear a bicycle helmet when riding a bicycle. When there is a claim or case that results from a bicycle accident, the use or non-use of a helmet can be a central issue in the case if the child suffered a head injury. Let’s assume that a child was hit by a vehicle while riding a bicycle. The child suffered a broken / fractured leg. There were no other injuries. While wearing a bicycle helmet would have been preferable, the use or non-use of a bicycle helmet in this situation will not be an issue in the case. If the child failed to wear a bicycle helmet, it did not matter from a legal standpoint because the leg would have fractured any way. Let’s take another situation in which the child suffered a severe head injury or traumatic brain injury. In this situation, if the child did not wear a helmet, the issue would be whether the helmet would have reduced or prevented the injuries in some manner.

A bicycle accident was recently reported in Anchorage Alaska. A 13 year old girl was riding her bicycle. She was at an intersection and pressed the crosswalk button and waited for her “right of way” or signal to proceed across the intersection. Unfortunately, she was hit by a vehicle. She suffered serious injuries including a head injury. She was wearing a helmet. Since the accident, the mother – Sarah Robicheaux – has made it a point to tell others about the importance of bicycle helmets. Mrs. Robicheaux firmly believes that the helmet saved her child’s life. While the girl did suffer significant personal injuries, the girl may have lost her life if not for the protection provided by the bicycle helmet. You can read more about this story at Mother Urges Others to Wear Bicycle Helmet.

The book titled – The ABCs of Child Injury – Legal Rights of the Injured Child – What Every Parent Should Know – has chapters on Automobile Accidents, Medical Care – Treatment, and other topics. You can get this book for free at The ABCs of Child Injury.