Rental bikes and bike share programs have taken large US cities by storm — and New York is no exception. As cycling grows in popularity and people seek more socially distant ways to recreate and commute, Citi Bike and other programs have grown in parallel.
Citi Bike, already the largest such program in the US, is poised for dramatic expansion, thanks in part to a $100 million partnership with ride sharing firm Lyft. The goal is to have 40,000 conventional and pedal-assist bikes operating over a 35 square mile area in NYC within the next few years.
Yet this expansion raises an interesting question: What are the legal implications when you rent or share a bike and experience a collision?
What the Law Says About Rental Bikes
How the law treats accidents involving rental bikes depends largely on the nature of the accident.
In a scenario where a rental bike cyclist is struck by a car drifting into a bike lane, this incident may be treated much like a standard auto accident. The cyclist should ask for a police report, document the crash scene, write down witness information and keep a running tally of medical expenses (and other expenses) related to the crash. The injured cyclist may choose to negotiate with the car driver’s insurer or hire an attorney.
In a scenario where a cyclist is injured in a collision as the result of a defect in her rental bike, the situation may be handled differently. If the bike was previously damaged or poorly maintained — or had a design flaw — the cyclist may be able to pursue litigation against the rental company or the bike manufacturer. In cases such as these, evidence that the rental company was aware of such defects and did nothing to mitigate them can be a powerful point in the victim’s favor, legally speaking.
The Problem of Arbitration or Waiving Your Rights
Rental companies often attempt to limit liability by including language in their rental contracts that says those who enter into a rental contract waive their legal rights or consent to arbitration.
Rental companies may also include onerous terms in contracts that allow them to claim breach of contract if an accident occurs. For example, a contract may state that failing to return the bike promptly breaches the contract. If a person is injured in an accident, prompt return may be impossible. Every case is different and there are a myriad of potential defenses that can be asserted in a particular case.
That is one of many reasons why an experienced bicycle accident attorney is very important in protecting your legal rights.
Finding the Right Bike Rental Accident Attorney
At the Frankel Law Firm, we’ve been fighting for the rights of injured persons for more than 40 years. If you need help, don’t hesitate to reach out to us today at (212) 888-5100 or at https://frankellawfirm.com. All plaintiff bicycle accident injury cases which are accepted are on a contingency basis which means that there will be no attorneys fee unless successful. Given the coronavirus pandemic, we can arrange for a free consultation by Facetime, Zoom, Skype or WhatsApp. Please feel free to give us a call.
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