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Kids, Bikes and Back to School.

Kids, Bikes and Back to School.

More kids on the road. More drivers on the road.

The return to school in the month of September means a sudden increase of cyclists on the sidewalks and streets of Ontario and the rest of Canada, as thousands of kids commute by bike to and from home and school. With a recent 2021 Angus Reid survey indicating that 27% of Canadian children walk or bike to school, amounting to thousands of additional child cyclists and pedestrians on the road every fall season, it’s no wonder that child cyclist injuries as a result of car accidents spike during this season when traffic is busier compared to the slower summer vacation months. The busy afternoon hours between the end of school and the beginning of evening rush hour are when most car accidents involving child cyclists occur when the volume of motorists and child cyclists sharing the same road space is at its peak.

Injuries as a result of car accidents are the number one cause of hospitalization for child cyclists under the age of 18 in Canada. On the streets, child cyclists are a cross-section of two of the most vulnerable types of road users: children and cyclists. Cyclists often have to deal with the constant friction between cars and trucks who may not appreciate sharing the road with cyclists’ slower, more unpredictable movement.

Children may also move impulsively and are unable to make judgments that will keep themselves and others safe, such as whether or not to cross a street or make a turn. Also, kids have a much lower awareness of the rules of the road and tend to undertake more risky behaviors than grownups. The are not able to appreicate danger as adults can. Because of young age, they are often impulsive and lack the judgement to keep themselves safe. They also have a much lower awareness of the rules of the road and are more likely to take risks. As a result, children are more vulnerable to danger when they are cycling. Cars may not see them, or they may not judge the speed and distance of oncoming traffic correctly. Cycling with children can be dangerous, even for experienced cyclists. It is important to be aware of the increased risk and take steps to protect yourself and your children.

Kids involved in bicycle accidents can be traumatized throughout childhood – and often for life. The worst part is that these injuries are usually not of their making and almost always not their responsibility. Child cyclists are often left with injuries that will require lengthy, expensive recovery and may even result in long-term consequences that will affect them for the rest of their lives – or even worse be fatal.

If your child has been involved in a bicycle accident and suffered serious pediatric injuries, our personal injury law firm can help. Our Hamilton Personal Injury Lawyers are experienced in pediatric bicycle accident litigation and are committed to helping our clients reach the best resolution to a terrible situation. If your child has been hurt, call Matt Lalande today at 905-333-8888 to learn your legal options.

Common Causes of Bicycle Accidents – Kids and Bikes

On the roads, cyclists have a serious disadvantage compared to the faster, larger cars and trucks driving alongside them on the same roads and, with child cyclists, this point becomes even more obvious. Unfortunately, this often leads to car accidents that can cause injury or even death. On average, 73% of Canadian cyclists’ deaths, including both kids and adults, are the result of being involved in a bicycle accident with a motorized vehicle, such as a car or truck. Although there are things that the government can do, many car accidents involving adult and child cyclists are the result of careless and irresponsible driving on the part of the car driver:

  • Lack of attention to surroundings: A driver preoccupied with getting to their destination can fail to observe a child cyclist around their vehicle.
  • Distracted driving: Although Ontario’s laws make it illegal to use a mobile device while driving a car, the temptation is always there to quickly check an email or message, change the song playing, or quickly scroll through your social media. Distracted driving accounts for a significant number of car accidents and is especially dangerous when combined with larger vehicles, like trucks, which have large blind spots.
  • Speeding: Drivers who are speeding – especially through school zones – are less likely to be able to react in time to a situation on the road, such as a child cyclist swerving out in front of them.
  • Unsafe turns: In a study of 100 cases of fatal car accidents involving cyclists in Toronto between 2006 and 2010, the most common cause was being hit by a right-turning vehicle (39 per cent). The same study showed that cyclists involved in car accidents by a left-turning vehicle accounted for 16 per cent of all injured cyclists. Even at intersections with dedicated bike lanes, cars turning right and left can struggle to anticipate or see an incoming cyclist.
  • Doorings: Dooring refers to when a driver or passenger in a parked car opens their door into the path of an oncoming cyclist, causing them to swerve or fall. Dooring is illegal in Toronto and although it’s not as common as other types of car accidents involving cyclists, it can be just as dangerous. For a smaller child cyclist, doorings can be the result of an unaware car driver or passenger failing to check their surroundings before opening a car door.
  • Not respecting school zones or school bus stops: many drivers are unfortunately inattentive when it comes to school zones and fail to appropriately slow their vehicle. Many drivers are also inattentive when it comes to school bus stops that have its upper alternating red lights flashing. A motorist must stop his or hervehicle at least 20 metres before a school bus that is stopped with its lights flashing. You must remain stopped until the lights stop flashing or the bus begins to move. Drivers on roads without medians must stop for school buses regardless of which direction they are traveling. Failure to do so may result in fines up to $4000, up to six demerits and a maximum of six months in jail.

Common injuries that child cyclists can suffer in car accidents:

Despite the best preparations, bicycle accidents may still happen to child cyclists, and these bicycle accidents can often result in a wide range of physical injuries. The most common type of injury that child cyclists suffer in bicycle accidents is a head injury, accounting for approximately 60 percent of all hospitalizations, which can result in more serious long-term physical consequences like disability. While head injuries are the most common type of injury cyclists suffer in cycling accidents, they are not the only ones. Other common injuries include:

  • Back injuries: being hit by a motorized vehicle can result in serious injury to a child’s back, usually from the initial impact or landing hard on the ground. Spinal cord injuries (SCI) can result in herniated discs or paralysis.
  • Head and brain injuries: even with a helmet, head injuries are common in car-bike accidents. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reports that most head injuries result in brain injuries. The force of the impact from a car accident can cause injuries for child cyclists like traumatic brain injury (TBI), which can lead to symptoms like memory loss, mood swings, affected bodily functions, long-term disability or even death.
  • Facial injuries: a car accident can do significant damage to a child cyclist’s face. A child in a car accident can suffer a broken nose, broken teeth, a fractured jaw or injuries to the eyes resulting in vision loss.
  • Fractures and broken bones: child cyclists can suffer broken bones in car-bike accidents, particularly if they are thrown from their bicycles. Compared to adult cyclists, child cyclists have an even greater risk of severe fractures or broken bones in the case of a car accident. It’s most common for child cyclists to fracture their hands and feet as they instinctively try to break their fall.
  • Road rash: road rash injuries are a common injury for cyclists who are involved in car-bike accidents. Child cyclists who are thrown off their bikes can suffer road rash, an injury received from their skin scraping against asphalt after a car accident.

Compensation that kids may be entitled to

If your child is been hurt in a bicycle accident he or she may be entitled to significant compensation, depending on the severity of the injuries. Children material, like adults, or entitled to compensation for pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment of life and loss of amenities. Children may also be your wage losses if he or she suffers serious injuries that, based on prognosis and prediction, would interfere with his or her working life in the future. Children are also entitled to compensation for future healthcare expenses, attendant care benefits, rehabilitation benefits, medical benefits – all of which may be enhanced if the injuries are deemed to be catastrophic in nature. Parents of her kids out of pocket expenses, any and all wage losses, therapy incurred, medical benefits, rehabilitation benefits and for the loss of care guidance and companionship.

How can child cyclists protect themselves better?

Wear a helmet: When riding a bicycle, child cyclists should always be wearing a helmet. Ontario’s provincial laws require cyclists under the age of 18 to wear a helmet, and, in addition, research shows that wearing a bicycle helmet in a bicycle accident can mean the difference between suffering minor injuries or being hospitalized.

No distracted cycling: Just as car drivers need to remain attentive when driving on the road, child cyclists can protect themselves by focusing on cycling and not dividing their attention with other activities such as using their smartphone, listening to music, or speaking to someone on the phone while they are cycling.

Have a bicycle that is the correct size: Child cyclists and their parents can ensure that the bicycle the child is riding is the appropriate size for the child cyclist. A bicycle that is too small or large can be difficult to control for a child cyclist, which can result in them losing control and ending up in a collision or car accident.

Maintaining the bicycle: Learning how to assess a bicycle’s condition can help child cyclists anticipate potential problems before they start the ride. A child cyclist should understand what a properly filled tire should look like, know how to replace batteries for the headlamp, be able to check that the brakes are operational, and should be able to understand what else could go wrong with their bike on a ride, as well as how to handle the situation to get home safely.

Learn how to communicate on the roads: As they are on their commute, child cyclists need to understand how to interact with other road users, including pedestrians, other cyclists and motorized vehicles. Teaching a child cyclist how to use proper hand signals to indicate stopping and turning, as well as road etiquette and manners, can go a long way to keeping them safe on their ride.

Know the rules of the road: While there is no licensing exam for cyclists, child cyclists should have a basic understanding of road rules, especially those that directly relate to cyclists. Teaching child cyclists the kinds of rules that Ontario has for car drivers, cyclists and pedestrians will give them confidence on their ride and teach them what they should be doing in different situations.

If your child has suffered life changing injuries, our Hamilton Personal Injury Lawyers can help.

If your child or a loved one has been injured in a bicycle accident while on a bicycle or cycling, it’s important to seek legal advice as soon as possible. Since 2003, Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers have been helping child cyclists who have suffered pediatric injuries in bicycle accidents. Our personal injury law firm will be able to help you navigate the complex legal process and ensure that your child receives the compensation he or she deserves. It is important that an injured child is protected financially – especially if the injuries are severe in nature.

Call our bicycle accident lawyers no matter where you are in Ontario at 1-844-LALANDE or local in the Southern Ontario region at 905-333-8888. Alternatively, you can send us a confidential email through our website – and we would be happy to get back to you.

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