Bicycle helmets are supposed to protect riders from head injuries. However, sometimes if the helmets are defective, they may cause more injury to the rider. Below is a question we received from a family member of a rider in Pennsylvania who believes his helmet was defective and caused more harm to him.
Question: My husband and I were riding our mountain bikes over the weekend in Valley Forge Park in Pennsylvania. We were both wearing helmets. However, my husband was wearing a helmet he just bought a week before the accident. My husband hit a huge hole and was thrown off his bike. As he was thrown off, I saw the helmet come off of his head. Though he was able to absorb most of the shock of the fall with his arms, his head also hit the ground. He now has several broken bones in his arms and a severe concussion. He may have a mild traumatic brain injury. Does he have legal recourse if the bicycle helmet caused his injuries to be worse than what might have otherwise been, i.e., if the helmet stayed on his head properly?
Answer: Yes, your husband may have a case against the bicycle helmet manufacturer if the helmet was defective. A helmet is designed to help protect your head. With the head's susceptibility to severe injuries, a defective helmet may cause what might be a normal accident to become catastrophic.
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Defects that may be found in a helmet include instability. In other words, if the fit and adjustment of the helmet are flawed, this could cause the helmet to come off. Without a helmet, a head injury can be much more severe.
Another defect could be with the buckles that secure the helmet. If they break apart, this can also leave an individual's head unprotected and at risk of a serious injury.
These above defects can be classified under design defects. In other words, there was something wrong with the design which made a component or feature on the helmet unsafe for its intended use.
Another type of defect in a helmet that may lead you to file a claim against the negligent party may be a manufacturing defect. Something happened during the manufacturing process that made the helmet unsafe even though the design was not defective.
In some cases there may even be more than one party liable, such as the sporting goods store your husband bought it from. For instance, if an employee who was helping your husband purchase the helmet told him to buy a bigger helmet than he was supposed to have, the employee/store may be found negligent. A possible theory of liability is that an employee of a sporting goods store is supposed to have the knowledge to help a customer find the right sized helmet. However, if the employee was not properly trained about how to properly fit a client’s head, then the store was negligent and may be found liable.
In addition, as his wife, you may also have a claim against the helmet manufacturer and other negligent parties. This is known as a loss of consortium claim, which is a derivative claim from your husband's injury claim. Your husband’s injuries may significantly affect your life as well as his own life. For instance, prior to the accident, you and your husband shared the responsibility around the house equally, such as cleaning, cooking, taking care of your children, etc. As a result of the accident, he may not be able to do any of those things for a period of time. You have to do 100% of the housework and care for your children. In addition, you also lose the intimacy and companionship you had from your husband because of his injuries.
It is best that you speak to a Philadelphia sports injury personal injury attorney who is experienced in handling cases that involve sports injuries and product liability. It is the best way to protect your husband’s claim, his legal rights, as well as your claim. PA defective products claims are often complicated, and you need to have an experienced lawyer on your side.
If your husband’s injuries are serious, he will need extensive medical treatment. You shouldn't have to suffer and pay for expensive medical bills that were caused by a manufacturer's negligence. Call Daniel J. O’Brien, Esq. at White & Williams LLP today. Mr. O’Brien always offers a FREE, no obligation consultation on your case - 1-877-944-8396.