The popularity of cycling is on the rise with people increasingly focused on fitness, recreation, and conservation. While bike riding might promote personal health, the activity often becomes decidedly unsafe when motorists fail to exercise caution and attentiveness. Cyclists lack the physical barriers to injury and safety equipment that often protect occupants of cars during collisions. Although motorist negligence causes many injuries and fatalities, a faulty bicycle also might contribute to a serious bicycle-related injury.
In this blog, our bicycle accident lawyers have provided an analysis of a decision from Florida’s 3rd DCA demonstrating the challenges involved in legal claims involving a defective bike. The plaintiff in Trek Bicycle Corp. v. Miguelez filed a product liability lawsuit against the manufacturer of a bike he was riding when he was involved in a crash. Special rules apply when consumers are injured by defective products that often permit holding entities involved in designing, manufacturing and selling products strictly liable.
The plaintiff in Trek Bicycle was thrown over the handlebars of his Trek Bicycle causing injury to his shoulder, face, and jaw. The cyclist experienced these serious injuries when the bicycle stopped without warning. Examination of the bike after the accident revealed that an object had become lodged in the spokes of the front wheel. The complaint filed in the lawsuit alleged the object caused the wheel to lockup when it hit the back of the “carbon fiber forks,” which prevented the wheel from rotating.
The plaintiff pursued multiple theories of liability against the bicycle manufacturer. These theories included defective design, failure to warn, and defective manufacturing. Trek Bicycle received a directed verdict in its favor from the trial judge, but the judge denied the request for a directed verdict with respect to the failure to warn claim. The jury returned a $800,000 verdict for the plaintiff. The manufacturer appealed the trial court ruling regarding the failure to warn claim.
The plaintiff contended that he would not have purchased the bike if it had been equipped with an adequate warning. The manufacturer of the bike responded to this claim by contending the provided warning was sufficient. Trek claimed the bike had a warning sticker on the bar of the bike that provided as follows: “ . . . [D]amaged carbon fiber can fail suddenly, causing serious injury or death. Carbon fiber can conceal damage from an impact or crash. If you suspect your bike has been impacted or crashed, IMMEDIATELY STOP RIDING. Take the bike to a dealer.” The plaintiff contended the bike did no have such a sticker.
On appeal, the court reversed the trial judge based on the conclusion that the alleged failure to warn was not the proximate cause of the cyclist’s injuries. The 3rd DCA reasoned that the proximate cause of the bike crash was debris in the roadway not a sudden failure of the carbon fiber of the forks.
Although product liability law provides a powerful tool to consumers injured by faulty or unreasonably unsafe products, this case illustrates the importance of representation from an experienced product liability attorney. Large manufacturers often have virtually unlimited litigation resources to defend against personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits. Because businesses that sell consumer products also have a strong interest in avoiding liability claims brought by multiple consumers who have purchased their products, they will devote considerable resources to dispute liability in product liability actions.
Greenberg, Stone, & Urbano: Seeking Maximum Recovery for Damages Sustained Due to Defective Products
Our Miami product liability lawyers at Greenberg, Stone & Urbano will tenaciously pursue the fullest financial compensation. For over 130 collective years, our firm has assisted personal injury victims across South Florida. We seek to obtain compensation for your tangible and intangible damages, including medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and more. Our skill and dedication have earned us an AV rating from Martindale-Hubbell and recognition as one of South Florida’s top firms by the Miami Herald. Call us at (888) 499-9700 or (305) 595-2400 or visit our website to schedule your initial consultation.