Bicycle accidents involving children are a common and concerning issue in Ontario. In fact, it was reported in 2018 that bicycle-road traffic injuries were the leading cause of death among kids and youth under the age of 19.
Bicycle accidents involving children can result in severe injuries, with potentially long-term implications. Given their smaller stature and still-developing motor skills, children are especially vulnerable. They can sustain a variety of injuries ranging from minor scrapes and bruises to more serious injuries like critical fractures, internal injuries, spinal cord injuries and and traumatic brain injuries.
The latter is particularly concerning because children’s brains are still in a critical stage of development. Impact from a bicycle accident can lead to concussion, skull fractures, or more severe brain injuries. These injuries can lead to cognitive and physical impairments that can affect a child’s ability to learn and develop normally. In the worst cases, bicycle accidents can also be fatal.
If you or a loved one has suffered serious injuries, or you have lost a child in a bicycle accident, call our Child Bicycle Injury Lawyers today. We are located in the heart of Hamilton, and serve families all over Ontario. Call us toll free at 1-844-LALANDE or local in Southern Ontario at 905-333-8888. Alternatively, you can send us a confidential email through our website and we will get right back to you to set up your free consultation.
Below are some of the more common bicycle accidents involving kids that our child injury lawyers have seen over the years.
Bicycle accidents involving children in crosswalks can occur due to a multitude of factors. One of the primary reasons is driver inattention or negligence. Drivers might not always be vigilant of cyclists, particularly child cyclists who are less noticeable due to their smaller size, leading to the failure of stopping or yielding at crosswalks. Moreover, children may not fully grasp or adhere to traffic rules. They could potentially enter a crosswalk without assessing oncoming traffic or ignore traffic signals.
The impulsive nature of children, a result of their age and developmental stage, can also contribute to such accidents. They might not predict the speed of an oncoming car correctly or might misjudge the distance, triggering accidents. Additionally, drivers may struggle to spot children on bicycles in certain circumstances, such as during poor weather conditions, at dawn or dusk, or when the child happens to be in the driver’s blind spot.
Another contributing factor can be poor or inadequate infrastructure. For instance, a crosswalk that is not distinctly marked or lacks appropriate signage can increase the likelihood of accidents. To mitigate the risk of accidents in crosswalks, it’s crucial to teach children about road safety rules, including stopping and looking in both directions before crossing, making eye contact with drivers, and utilizing pedestrian signals when available. Equally, drivers should reduce speed and heighten their attention when nearing crosswalks.
Drivers failing to yield at the correct time or place is a significant cause of bicycle accidents involving children. This scenario often occurs at intersections, driveways, and crosswalks where drivers are required to yield to cyclists and pedestrians. If a driver neglects to yield, they could strike a child on a bicycle who is crossing their path, resulting in a collision. This could be due to inattention, distraction, or a simple failure to notice the child, especially given that children on bicycles are smaller and less noticeable than adults. Additionally, children may not have fully developed their judgment skills in terms of predicting other road users’ behaviors or determining the speed and distance of approaching vehicles. Therefore, if a driver does not yield as required, a child on a bike might not be able to react quickly enough to avoid an accident. It emphasizes the critical importance of driver attentiveness and adherence to traffic rules in preventing such incidents.
Bicycle accidents involving children in school zones can happen due to a multitude of factors. One of the key issues is high traffic. These zones often experience considerable congestion, particularly during drop-off and pick-up times. This high volume of vehicles, coupled with a flurry of pedestrian and cycling activity, can augment the risk of accidents.
Another crucial factor is driver distractions. Within the bustling environment of a school zone, drivers might be preoccupied with multiple concerns, such as locating a parking spot, watching for their child, or negotiating the flow of traffic. These distractions can lead to a failure in spotting a child on a bicycle, which could result in an accident.
Furthermore, children’s impulsivity and developing judgment skills can contribute to accidents. For example, a child might suddenly swerve on their bicycle without checking for vehicles, or they may not accurately judge the speed of an oncoming car when crossing a driveway or intersection.
Lastly, insufficient or inadequate signage and road markings can also play a part. If school zones are not clearly marked or lack effective traffic calming measures such as speed bumps or pedestrian crosswalks, the risk of accidents can increase.
Speeding significantly contributes to bicycle accidents involving children in a myriad of ways. For instance, a child bicyclist might not anticipate the high speed of an approaching vehicle, which can limit their ability to accurately judge the time they have to cross the road safely. Children, due to their developmental stage, often have limited perception of speed and distance, making it even more challenging when vehicles are moving at a rapid pace. Consequently, they may make a decision to cross or join traffic, resulting in a collision due to insufficient time for either party to react effectively.
Furthermore, vehicles moving at high speeds create a hazardous environment for children bicycling near the roadway. The increased speed reduces a driver’s reaction time, making it difficult for them to stop or steer away in time if a child suddenly swerves into the road or falls off their bicycle. This can be especially problematic in residential areas where children frequently ride their bikes.
On a related note, drivers exceeding the speed limit may not have enough time to notice and interpret traffic signals or signs indicating a shared path with bicycles, leading to accidents. Higher speeds can also result in more severe injuries in the event of a collision due to the increased force of impact. This is particularly dangerous for children, whose developing bodies are more susceptible to severe injuries.
Lastly, speeding drivers may not only pose a direct threat to child bicyclists but can also force them to make sudden, evasive maneuvers. Such unexpected moves can cause children to lose control of their bicycles, leading to falls and subsequent injuries. These scenarios underscore the crucial role that speed regulation plays in reducing bicycle accidents involving children.
Intersection accidents involving cyclists, particularly children, occur due to a variety of factors. A common cause is lack of visibility. Children on bicycles are smaller and less noticeable than motor vehicles, and they can easily be obscured by larger vehicles, especially at intersections. Drivers may fail to see a child cyclist when they are making a turn, or when they are proceeding through an intersection after stopping.
Another contributing factor is the limited judgment and experience of children. Kids often have a less developed understanding of road rules and may not fully comprehend the potential hazards associated with intersections. They might incorrectly anticipate the actions of drivers, such as presuming a car will stop when it won’t, or misjudging the speed of an oncoming vehicle when trying to cross an intersection.
Children may also be unfamiliar with the concept of blind spots in vehicles and assume that if they can see the vehicle, the driver can see them. This misunderstanding can lead to incidents where a child cyclist rides into the path of a vehicle that is turning at an intersection, with the driver unaware of the child’s presence.
Distracted driving is a serious problem that significantly contributes to bicycle accidents involving children. Distractions can take various forms and generally occur when drivers divert their attention from the road to focus on other tasks. Examples of distracted driving include using a mobile phone to call, text, or navigate; eating or drinking; adjusting radio or GPS settings; conversing with passengers; or even daydreaming.
When a driver is distracted, their attention is split, and they are less able to respond to unexpected situations or changes in their surroundings. For instance, a driver who is texting may fail to notice a child bicyclist entering the roadway from a driveway or crossing at an intersection. A driver who is engrossed in adjusting their vehicle’s radio may not see a child cyclist swerving to avoid an obstacle on the road, leading to a potential collision. A moment’s distraction can severely limit a driver’s reaction time, turning an avoidable incident into a tragic accident.
Distraction-related crashes are particularly dangerous as they often occur at higher speeds due to the driver’s delayed response time. The higher impact speed can result in more severe injuries for the child bicyclist. Moreover, it can lead to chain-reaction crashes affecting other road users as well.
In Canada, distracted driving has been identified as a leading cause of road accidents. According to the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA), distracted drivers are three times more likely to be involved in a collision than attentive drivers. A shocking statistic from the Traffic Injury Research Foundation (TIRF) indicates that driver distraction was a contributing factor in 21-30% of collisions in Canada in recent years. This means that approximately one in four fatal crashes in Canada involves a distracted driver.
These statistics emphasize the need for ongoing efforts to educate the public about the dangers of distracted driving and to enforce laws designed to prevent it. It’s crucial for drivers to understand that any activity that diverts attention from driving – even for a few seconds – can result in a fatal accident, especially when vulnerable road users like child bicyclists are involved.
Running red lights and stop signs is a dangerous driving behavior that significantly contributes to bicycle accidents involving children. Intersections controlled by traffic signals or stop signs are common places where children on bicycles cross the road or turn. When a motorist runs a red light or fails to stop at a stop sign, they can collide with a child cyclist who is legally proceeding through the intersection.
There are various reasons why motorists run red lights or stop signs. Some drivers are simply inattentive or distracted and fail to notice the traffic control device in time to stop. Others may be impatient or in a hurry and choose to ignore the signal to save time. A driver might also misjudge the time they have to clear the intersection before the light changes to red, leading to a “red-light running” incident. Similarly, at stop signs, drivers may make a “rolling stop” instead of coming to a complete halt, especially when they perceive the intersection as being clear of other road users.
Running red lights or stop signs is particularly dangerous because it often leads to right-angle or “T-bone” collisions, which are typically more severe than other types of crashes. Children on bicycles are especially vulnerable in these situations. They may not have the experience or understanding to anticipate the reckless actions of a driver running a red light or stop sign. Additionally, due to their smaller size, a child may be less visible to a driver, particularly one who is not fully attentive to their surroundings.
Children getting hit by cars in intersections can suffer from extremely serious injuries, given the vulnerability of their developing bodies and the force involved in vehicle collisions. Depending on the speed of the car and the angle of impact, the injuries can range from broken bones and internal injuries to traumatic brain injuries or spinal cord damage. These injuries can be life-altering, leading to long-term or even permanent physical impairments. In some cases, they can be fatal. Such collisions underscore the dire need for all road users, especially drivers, to exercise extreme caution at intersections, particularly when children are present.
There are two main reasons why children are particularly vulnerable in bicycle-motor vehicle collisions for a variety of reasons.
Firstly, their small size and visibility issues can make it challenging for drivers to spot them, especially those in larger vehicles like trucks or SUVs. Moreover, children’s physical development status makes them more susceptible to severe injuries during a collision. Their bodies are still growing and developing, which means their bones, muscles, and organs may not be as resilient as adults’, leading to more significant damage.
Secondly, cognitive development plays a big role in this vulnerability. Children are still learning and understanding traffic rules, often underestimating the speed and distance of oncoming vehicles, or making unpredictable moves, such as swerving into the street without looking. Furthermore, children are less experienced cyclists, and their skill and reaction times may not be sufficient to evade sudden dangers on the road. Lastly, their risk perception might not be fully developed, leading them to unknowingly take risks or make decisions that place them in perilous situations
Bicycle accidents can cause a range of injuries, some of which are more severe than others. While it’s important to keep in mind that each situation is unique and injuries will vary depending on factors such as speed, the type of collision, use of safety gear, etc., the following are among the most serious injuries a child might sustain in a bicycle accident which are most commonly seen by our bicycle accident lawyers for kids:
BRAIN INJURIES: Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs) represent a serious concern when it comes to children involved in bicycle accidents. These injuries are typically more severe than concussions and can result in long-term, or even permanent, physical or cognitive impairment.TBIs can occur in various degrees, from mild to severe. Severe TBIs are often caused by a violent blow or jolt to the head, which can occur during a bicycle accident. This force can cause the brain to collide with the inside of the skull, leading to damage to brain cells and creating harmful chemical changes in the brain.
A child suffering from a severe TBI may experience a range of symptoms. These can include persistent headaches, repeated vomiting or nausea, convulsions or seizures, inability to awaken from sleep, dilation of one or both pupils, slurred speech, weakness or numbness in the extremities, loss of coordination, and increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation. Cognitive and behavioral changes may also occur.
Severe TBIs can have life-changing consequences. Depending on the part of the brain that’s injured, a child might have difficulties with basic motor functions, speech and language, learning and memory, and emotional regulation. Rehabilitation after a severe TBI can be a long and complex process, often requiring various therapies like physical, occupational, and speech-language therapy, and, in some cases, psychological counseling.
It’s important to keep in mind that early intervention and treatment can significantly influence the outcome of such injuries. Therefore, if a TBI is suspected after a bicycle accident, immediate medical attention is paramount.
SPINAL CORD INJURIES: Spinal cord injuries sustained in bicycle accidents can be life-altering events, resulting in a significant impact on a child’s physical and emotional well-being. These injuries occur when there’s damage to the spinal cord, which is the major bundle of nerves carrying nerve impulses to and from the brain to the rest of the body. A severe impact, such as what may be experienced in a bicycle accident, can fracture or dislocate vertebrae, leading to damage of the spinal cord.
A spinal cord injury can result in loss of sensation or motor function below the level of the injury, potentially leading to partial or complete paralysis. This can affect the child’s ability to move, feel, or control certain body functions, and might necessitate the use of assistive devices like wheelchairs. The specific symptoms and their severity depend on where the spinal cord injury occurred and how much damage was done.
The lifetime costs associated with spinal cord injuries can be substantial. These include immediate medical costs, long-term healthcare and rehabilitation, assistive devices, home modifications, and personal care support. In Ontario, accident benefits are available to help cover some of these costs, providing financial assistance for medical and rehabilitative care, attendant care, and other necessary expenses. However, these benefits often do not cover the full extent of these lifetime costs, which can run into the millions of dollars.
Aside from the physical challenges, children with spinal cord injuries often face significant psychological challenges. The abrupt change in their physical abilities can be emotionally distressing. They may experience feelings of grief, anxiety, or depression, and they may require ongoing psychological counseling to help them adjust to their new circumstances. Encouragingly, with the right support and rehabilitation, many children can lead fulfilling lives after a spinal cord injury, but it’s clear that the impacts are far-reaching and profound.
FRACTURES ACROSS GROWTH PLATES: Orthopedic injuries are a common type of injury children can sustain in a bicycle accident. These can include a range of issues such as fractures or dislocations. Particularly in children, special attention must be paid to injuries that involve the growth plates, which are the areas of developing cartilage tissue near the ends of long bones. As a child grows, these plates harden into solid bone.
In a bicycle accident, a child might sustain a fracture that crosses the growth plates. This is concerning because damage to the growth plates can potentially affect the future growth of the bone. If a growth plate is fractured, it might cause the bone to stop growing too early or cause it to grow incorrectly, leading to a limb that’s shorter or longer than the other, or even crooked.
When a child suffers a fracture that affects the growth plate, orthopedic surgeons often need to intervene. The surgery aims to realign the bone and stabilize the growth plate to give it the best chance of healing correctly. Despite the best efforts, there can be long-term prognosis issues. In some cases, additional surgeries may be needed as the child grows to correct any abnormalities.
It’s essential to ensure that any child who has suffered an orthopedic injury in a bicycle accident receives prompt medical attention, followed by ongoing monitoring to ensure the bone is healing correctly and that any long-term impacts are minimized as much as possible. Regular follow-ups with the child’s orthopedic surgeon are crucial to closely monitor the growth and development of the injured bone over time.
JOINT FRACTURES: In a bicycle accident, a child can sustain fractures in the joints, which are places where two or more bones meet. These fractures can be particularly concerning when they involve weight-bearing joints, such as those in the lower extremities (hips, knees, and ankles), as well as in the upper extremities (shoulders, elbows, and wrists).
When a joint is fractured, the alignment and smooth surface of the joint can be disrupted. This is important because the smooth surfaces of the bones within a joint, covered by a layer of articular cartilage, allow for fluid movement. A fracture that extends into the joint can disrupt this, leading to abnormal joint motion.
Over time, abnormal joint motion can cause wear and tear to the joint, potentially leading to conditions like post-traumatic osteoarthritis. This is a form of arthritis that arises after an injury to the joint. The child might experience symptoms such as joint pain, swelling, and reduced range of motion. These symptoms may not appear until many years after the initial injury.
In addition to arthritis, fractures in the joints can lead to other long-term problems. For instance, the child might develop joint stiffness or a difference in leg length, which can affect mobility and require ongoing physical therapy or even additional surgical interventions.
It’s important to note that prompt and appropriate treatment of joint fractures can help minimize these long-term complications. This often involves surgery to realign the joint and repair the fracture, followed by a period of immobilization and then physical therapy to restore function to the joint. However, even with the best treatment, these injuries may have lasting effects and necessitate ongoing medical care and monitoring.
AMPUTATIONS: Amputations in children due to bicycle accidents, though relatively rare, represent one of the most severe outcomes of these incidents. An amputation might be necessary if a limb has been so severely damaged in the accident that it cannot be saved, or if it poses a risk to the child’s life due to the risk of infection or other complications.
When an amputation is required, the immediate and long-term healthcare costs can be significant. Immediately following the procedure, there are costs associated with the hospital stay, surgery, anesthesia, and medications. After the initial recovery, there are costs for rehabilitation, physical therapy, and potentially occupational therapy to help the child adapt to life without the limb.
The child may also need a prosthetic limb, which will need to be replaced regularly as the child grows. Each prosthetic can cost thousands of dollars, and higher-functioning prosthetics can cost significantly more. Moreover, the child may need ongoing physical therapy to learn how to use the prosthetic, and they may need additional surgeries or medical care related to the amputation site.
The psychological impact of an amputation on a child cannot be underestimated. It is a significant life event that can cause a range of emotional responses, including grief over the loss of the limb, anxiety about their future, and potential self-esteem issues related to body image. They may also experience phantom limb pain, which can be distressing. It’s critical that psychological support, such as counseling or therapy, forms an integral part of the care plan for a child who has undergone an amputation.
Securing the right Ontario bicycle accident lawyer for your child is crucial in ensuring you obtain the appropriate legal support and representation. Here are some factors to consider when your child has been hurt:
Remember, it’s advisable to explore your options and consult with several lawyers before making your decision. The right lawyer can significantly influence the outcome of your case.
In Canada, if your child is injured in a bicycle accident due to someone else’s negligence,he or she may be entitled to claim both pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages. These are legal terms that refer to the types of compensation you could receive.
In Canada, except in very rare situations, there is a cap to the amount that an injured person may recover on non-pecuniary damages (or damages for pain and suffering). The cap was established back in 1978 by the Supreme Court of Canada at $100,000. Over the years this value has been adjusted and in 2023 the cap is approximately $410,000.
Yes, in certain situations, parents may be entitled to claim both pecuniary and non-pecuniary damages if their child has sustained serious injuries in an accident. For pecuniary or economic damages, these can encompass any financial losses parents have incurred directly due to their child’s accident. For instance, if a parent needed to take leave from work to care for their injured child, they might have a claim for lost income. Out-of-pocket expenses for their child’s medical treatment, medications, counselling, and other necessary rehabilitation services can also be claimed. If the child’s injuries necessitate ongoing care, parents might be eligible to claim for anticipated future costs, which can include specialized care, equipment, or home modifications.
For non-pecuniary or non-economic damages, in some Canadian jurisdictions, parents may also qualify to make a claim. One such claim could be for the loss of care, guidance, and companionship that they might reasonably have expected to receive from their child if the accident had not occurred. This is a provision under the Family Law Act. These types of claims acknowledge the emotional and psychological impact of a child’s severe injury on their parents and aim to provide some form of compensation for these non-tangible losses.
Remember that every case is unique, and the types and amounts of damages awarded can vary based on the circumstances of the accident, the severity of the injuries, and other factors. Consulting with a personal injury lawyer can provide a better understanding of the potential damages in your specific case.
In Ontario, when a settlement is reached in a personal injury case involving a minor under 18 (referred to as an “infant” in legal terms), it must be approved by the court before it can be finalized. This is a measure put in place to protect the interests of the minor.
The process generally involves the child’s bicycle accident lawyer preparing a motion or application to the court for approval of the settlement. The court will review the terms of the settlement and the circumstances of the case to determine whether the settlement is in the best interests of the child.
The court will consider various factors, such as the nature and extent of the child’s injuries, the potential long-term impacts of those injuries, the amount of the settlement, and how the settlement funds will be managed and disbursed. The court may also review medical reports and other relevant documents.
If the court approves the settlement, it will issue an order to that effect. The settlement funds will typically be paid into court and held in trust for the minor until they reach the age of majority, although the court can order that some funds be released earlier for specific expenses related to the child’s care and wellbeing.
If the court does not believe the settlement is in the child’s best interest, it can reject the settlement. In that case, the parties would need to renegotiate the settlement or potentially proceed to trial.
Overall, the court approval process is designed to ensure that settlements involving minors are fair and protect the minor’s interests. As this is a complex process, it’s generally advisable to engage a child bicycle accident lawyer with experience in personal injury law and specifically in cases involving minors.
Our Hamilton lawyers know that bicycle accidents can result in severe and life-altering injuries for a child, particularly when they involve collisions with motor vehicles. From traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries to orthopedic injuries, fractures, and even amputations, the damage inflicted can permanently alter a child’s quality of life and future prospects. In some cases, injuries can lead to ongoing medical treatments, physical therapy, long-term care, and the need for extensive support services, all of which can be overwhelming for the child and their family.
The issue of negligence often plays a crucial role in these incidents, determining the liability for the accident and any potential compensation. Hiring an experienced pediatric injury lawyer like Matt Lalande becomes vital in navigating these complex issues. Matt has a tremendous amount of experience advocating for the best interest of injured kids, and always, no matter what, ensures that they receive the necessary support and compensation to facilitate their recovery and provide for their future needs.
To schedule your free consultation with our child bicycle accident lawyers, call us toll-free, no matter where you are in Ontario at 1-888-LALANDE or local throughout Southern Ontario area at 905-333-8888. Alternatively, you can chat with our live operator 24/7 or send an email through our website and we will be happy to get right back to you.
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In a bicycle accident, a child can suffer from a range of injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, spinal cord injuries, orthopedic injuries (such as fractures or damage to growth plates), injuries to the joints, and in extreme cases, amputations. The severity of these injuries can vary greatly, with some leading to long-term or even permanent impairments.
A bicycle accident lawyer can provide essential legal advice and representation if your child has been injured in a bicycle accident. They can help you understand your rights, gather and present evidence, negotiate with insurance companies, and if necessary, represent your interests in court. An experienced lawyer can work to ensure your child receives fair compensation for their injuries and any related expenses.
It’s important to hire a lawyer with specific experience in bicycle accidents and personal injury law. Look for a lawyer with a good reputation, a track record of achieving results, clear communication, availability to dedicate time to your case, a fair fee structure, and genuine empathy towards your child’s situation.
Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers, based in Hamilton, is known for its expertise in handling personal injury cases, including those involving bicycle accidents. The firm is dedicated to ensuring that their clients receive the necessary support and fair compensation to facilitate recovery and provide for their future needs. They have a track record of successfully advocating for their clients’ best interests, both in negotiations and in court.
Lalande Personal Injury Lawyers typically operate on a contingency fee basis, meaning they only get paid if they win your case or secure a settlement. This fee structure allows you to obtain legal representation without needing to pay upfront, which can be especially important when dealing with the financial impact of a serious injury. It’s advisable to discuss the specific fee arrangement during your initial consultation with the firm.