By far, the single most critical factor in the prevention of head injuries to bicycle riders is the use of a safety helmet. Defective helmets, however, whether defective in design or in their manufacture, can actually contribute to serious injury or death in the event of an bicycle accident.
There are numerous agencies and organizations that test bicycle helmets and set bicycle helmet safety standards. Ultimate regulatory responsibility, however, rests with the Consumer Product and Safety Commission (CPSC). And with an estimated 30 firms manufacturing or importing approximately 200 different models of bicycle helmets that are presently marketed in the US, the Commission's burden is a formidable one.
Fortunately, the CPSC has many enforcement mechanisms at its disposal. Among them are the ability to order a recall if bicycle helmets fail to meet current standards. The CPSC can also levy substantial fines.
Despite this, defective helmets continue to make their way into the market, and even the best regulatory efforts are no consolation to someone who has, or is, suffering injuries as the result of a bicycle accident, especially if the injuries could have been lessened or prevented with a properly functioning helmet.
A common problem leading to serious injuries is that of the helmet being ejected in an accident due to its “positional instability.” This may be considered a helmet defect if the manufacturer did not provide 'suitable guidance' on adjustment and fit” (Snell B95). For more on what may constitute a product defect, please visit Product Liability Attorneys and Defective Consumer Product Lawyers.
Another danger was uncovered by Consumer Reports. After testing 24 popular bicycle helmets, they found that the buckles on half of them broke apart. And although the level of protection may be the same for these helmets during an initial impact, the helmet may then come off and leave the bicyclist's head unprotected. The tests were based on safety requirements of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) and the Snell Memorial Foundation.
Regardless of the bicycle helmet defect, from a shattering visor that can cut the rider, to a helmet that does not meet impact force standards, manufacturers are subject to civil and even criminal penalties. In at least one case, a bicycle helmet manufacturer went to jail for refusing to comply with a CPSC standard.
If you believe that a product is unsafe, you may report it confidentially to the CPSC. But if you suspect that you or a loved one has been injured as the result of a defective bicycle helmet, you may be entitled to compensation. Because of statutes of limitations that may apply in your state, however, you should consider consulting with an experienced bicycle helmet attorney as soon as possible in order to protect your rights.
Contact PersonalInjury.com today to find an experienced bicycle accident lawyer near you.