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Average Bicycle Accident Verdict

Jury Verdict Research conducted a study of its database of verdicts and found that the average jury award in a bicycle accident case is $279,970. Underscoring how high jury verdicts distort the average verdict, the overall median money awarded in bike accident cases is $50,000. Moreover, Plaintiff’s only prevail in 41% of the cases that go to trial.

I think the relatively low success rate of bicycle accident cases at trial is a general bias against bikes that may be, bizarrely, even stronger than the bias against motorcycles. Many jurors, who typically drive cars, simply think bicycles shouldn’t be on the road.

Obviously, the big problem with bicycle accidents as opposed to car and truck accidents is the lack of a strong steel foundation designed to withstand an impact. But the low hanging fruit to reduce the extent of injuries in bicycle accidents is simply wearing a helmet. The most serious bicycle injuries – and there were 630 fatal bike accidents in this country last year – usually involve a head injury. Wearing a bike helmet is estimated to reduce head injury risk by 85 percent. Maryland has a bike helmet law for those under 16 years-old but no law for adults.

I think there should be a mandatory bike helmet law in Maryland. To make my point, I’m going to slide down what libertarians call the slippery slope of paternalism. I really do appreciate their concern about creating (or furthering, as they would argue) a nanny state. But… that said… we already have helmet laws for motorcycles and seat belt laws in Maryland. A bike helmet law on public roads just makes sense because it would save lives at the cost of such a minor imposition.

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  • http://www.rhodeislandpersonalinjuryattorneyblog.com Rhode Island Personal Injury Attorney

    I agree with you, bicycle helmets should be mandatory. Rhode Island does not require bicycle helmets either. Great Information on this site.

  • http://www.cyclelicio.us/ Richard Masoner

    Thanks for that info. How does that average & median compare against motorist-only personal injury awards, or maybe cases where pedestrians are the victims?

    That 85% claim keeps getting repeated like the telephone game — that number came from a 1987 Seattle helmet study that was discredited 20 years ago.

  • Matthew Klute

    The “low hanging fruit” in this case is cars not running down cyclists. Im not saying helmets don’t have their place, but 3 foot passing laws and better infrastructure both benefit cyclists more than mandating helmet use.

  • Data student

    Sorry, but you’re falling for common misconceptions.

    First, cyclists are at no more risk of serious head injuries than many others. Pedestrians have far more fatalities per year, or per mile traveled, than cyclists. The brain injury involvement in fatalities or serious injuries is essentially the same for walkers, motorists or bicyclists. (73% for pedestrians, for example.) Pedestrian helmets, anyone?

    More significantly, bike helmet use has caused no improvement in bike head injuries. Their design standards are far too low. See http://www.cyclehelmets.org/1028.html

    The promotion or mandating of bike helmets is based entirely ignorance of the facts.

  • http://bodytechnician.com/ Jordan Rothstein

    The article linked in the comment above quotes a head injury expert who says that helmets protect cyclists:

    “Dr. James P. Kelly, a neurologist and a concussion expert at Northwestern University Medical School, said that even as helmets were currently designed, patients who were wearing them when they were injured were much better off than those who were not.”

    The article does not say helmet design standards are too low; it says that to make helmets safer, they would have to be bulkier & heavier, and people wouldn’t want to wear them.

    To make driving a car safer, a driver would have to wear a full-face helmet with a face shield, a neck brace, a flame-resistant outfit (suit, gloves, boots), and a cross-body harness, as race car drivers do.

    People wouldn’t want to wear that either. But seat belts still save lives, and so do bicycle helmets.

    See also:

    Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute | Helmets.org