Distinguishing between Accident / Injury Claims involving Bike Sharing, Bike Rental, & Bike Sales

Bicycle accidents can occur for a variety of reasons. The Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. represent the victims and family members of bike crashes that occurred in Chicago or a neighboring suburb. As bicycling increases throughout Chicagoland, so have bike-related amenities, including bike-sharing programs, bike rental agencies, and bike shops that sell bicycle parts, as well as new and used bikes. In some incidents, the cause or contributing factor to a bicycle accident was the actual bike being used, such as a bicycle that has recently been purchased, rented from an agency, or part of bike sharing program.

There are a variety of factors that must be taken in consideration in assessing the validity of a claim extending from the use, purchase, or rental, of a bicycle. In addition to evaluating the factual circumstances involved, it is important to identify the law applicable to the matter, whether local, state, federal, or a combination thereof. In newly emerging types of claim, such as those involving bike sharing facilities/programs, rulings in prior cases, referred to as case law, can also play a large part in the outcome of a particular matter.

In understanding the variations in each type of claim-bike sharing, bike rental, and bike sales-it is helpful to distinguish between the purchase of a consumer product and the purchase of a service. The purchase of a product, such as a bicycle, will often depend on whether the product is new or used, in addition to whether the consumer was purchasing a product or a service.

For example, in cases involving the purchase of a new bike, defects in design or manufacture, as well as failing to provide the consumer with adequate instruction or warning, can serve the basis of a product liability claim. However, injury and damage claims extending from the purchase of a new bike can also involve the use of a service as well. For example, where a bike sales store or other entity provides assembly services, and the bicycle is improperly assembled.

Accidents involving the sale of a used bike from a licensed retailer will generally will fall exclusively under the purchase of a good or product. For example, where a bike was sold to a consumer that was not in good working order, or that did not have the safety equipment required by law. Another example is where a used bicycle was sold to a consumer, and the bike has been previously recalled, but not repaired.

Claims extending from the rental of a bike or use of a bike sharing service/program, on the other, are very different, because they involve solely the purchase of a service. These services generally involve some type of user agreement, release, or waiver which sets forth limitations in liability, as well as assumptions of risk. To view an example, see Divvy Bike User Agreement. It is important to know that regardless of the terms of a contract, there are certain rights that cannot be contracted away, such as a service provider’s gross negligence or willful misconduct.

In addition, because services like divvy bike share are city programs, previous lawsuits involving bike sharing programs have also involved claims against the government. Often time, the government is insulated from liability, either through the contract that the city has with the privately operated bike share company, or through provisions in state or local law pertaining to government liability and immunity. However, similar to claims against a bike sharing facility, the government is not shielded from liability if it can be shown that the willful/ wanton misconduct, or gross negligence of a public employee or entity either caused or contributed to an injury or accident.

If you were injured or involved in an accident while bicycling, it is imperative that you discuss the incident with an experienced attorney, rather than making your own assumptions regarding liability. The Bicycle Accident Lawyers of Zneimer & Zneimer P.C. will determine applicable law, review contract terms, and identify potential sources of compensation. Schedule your FREE personal injury consultation online, or by calling 773-516-4100.