Now that the health restrictions loosened a bit, and kids still need to enjoy the warm weather, spending some time outside of the house is not such a bad idea. Backyard games with siblings and friends can entertain children for hours in safe environments, but, as all parents know, all kids who have a bike also have the itch to ride it.
Unfortunately, bicycle accidents can happen even in the safest of neighborhoods, let alone crowded thoroughfares. Let’s discuss today what you need to do if your child suffers injuries because of a bicycle accident!
The Medical and Legal Issues of Young Children Riding Bikes
For children, cycling is one of the most super fun activities to do in the summer; period. While some states and counties do not impose kids to wear bicycle helmets, parents have the final word. Usually, children go out with their bikes every day, displaying some protective gear. Is it enough for them to be safe in case of a collision with a car or a motorbike? Unfortunately, no.
According to the C.D.C., children (aged 5-14 years) and adolescents (15-19 years old) present the highest rates of nonfatal bicycle-related injuries in comparison to occupants in motor vehicles. Some of the most common bicycle injuries in children include bruises, scrapes, and cuts. Nevertheless, when it comes to more severe (emergency room worthy) accidents, specialists talk about injuries in the upper extremities, legs and feet’ muscular and bone injuries, face, neck, and shoulder injuries, and so on.
The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration recommends parents never to allow kids under the age of ten to ride a bike on the street. However, it isn’t easy to keep the child under constant supervision. Parents, as much as we would like them to, are not superheroes. They do not possess the ability to control traffic, other peoples’ actions, and so on. What they can do is teach their children about bicycle safety and make sure their kids follow the rules.
Unfortunately, kids’ bike accidents represent a problem parents need to tackle from multiple angles: it is the medical issue, the emotional one, and the legal one, to name a few.
As a responsible parent, you should always be aware and get legal advice for your loved ones to avoid further problems in the future. When a young child suffers injuries after a bike accident, the legal and insurance maze becomes confusing beyond words. While most states consider that drivers are responsible for having the greater duty of care around children, some can also hold the parents partially liable for negligence to some extent. In other words, when it comes to partial fault laws, things can get messy. It is why you should have the number of an attorney specialized in personal injury cases in your state on speed dial.
When an accident happens, and the child suffers injuries, parents feel devastated and seek justice, compensations, and even pain and suffering damages in court. However, before you reach the blame and justice part, here is what you need to do in case your child gets into a bicycle accident!
1. Seek Immediate Medical Attention
No matter if the injuries are minor – scars, and bruises – your child should receive immediate medical attention. The medical documentation related to your child’s injuries will serve as both course of action for further treatment and as evidence in case of a lawsuit. While you cannot ask for damages from a tree your kid collided with, you can certainly have a claim if the accident involved the kid and another driver.
2. Call the Police
You should call the police to document the accident even if the child suffered minor injuries. You can never tell how a bump on the head can develop into severe medical troubles over time. The police report helps solve any later disagreements regarding what happened and who was at fault. Moreover, the same police report might help you settle with the insurance company, especially if the officers at the scene ticket the driver.
3. Take Pictures and Gather Even More Evidence
If the accident involved a vehicular collision, take as many pictures as you can while waiting for the police to arrive. It would help if you wrote down everything you see about the scene. As a piece of advice, leave the bike where it fell and do not touch (but document) other damaged property. You will need this documentation in case the accident was severe, and you already think about seeking justice for your child’s injuries or trauma.
4. Collect Witness Information
While the police will most likely do this as well, it never hurts to gather as much witness information as possible, mostly if your child was in the company of friends or schoolmates. In some cases, minors’ testimonies do not hold well in court, but they will be essential elements for a lawyer to build a personal injury case for your child or a claim for pain and suffering.
5. Hire an Attorney
Most parents neglect this step, concerned more with the health and safety of their child than with legal matters. However, it would help if you always discussed with an attorney before you contact insurance companies. As we said in the beginning, determining liability in a child’s bike accident is a too complicated matter. Most likely, in vehicular accidents, on the street or at an intersection, the other party involved in the bike crash is liable.
However, since insurance companies do not enjoy taking money out of their pockets, they might argue the parents’ negligence or partial fault. It would be best if you had an expert to guide you through the legal jungle, settle with the insurance agency on your behalf, and even represent you in court.
As parents, we can do everything in our power to keep our children safe, and still not be able to shield them from accidents or injuries. For this reason, it is best to know not only how to prevent bike accidents, but how to manage them once they occur.
Most bike injuries will leave kids with plenty of stories to tell and parents with dozens of sleepless nights to remember. In an ideal world, bad things should not happen, but if they do, make sure you are there for your child through medical, emotional, and even legal recovery every step of the way.