$7 Million Jury Verdict for Sends a Loud Message to Bicycle Manufacturers

  • Date: Spring 1994
  • FIRM
  • Settlement: $7 Million
  • Practice Areas: Product Liability, Bicycles

The jury agreed with the firm: plastic reflectors on 17-year-old Johnson’s bicycle did not protect him from a jeep on the night of July 14, 1989.

After a six week trial, the jury awarded seven million dollars for the injuries the young man suffered when a jeep made a left hand turn and collided into him as he rode his bicycle. The driver never saw the young man’s bike, despite its having an “all reflector system.”

According to a public opinion survey which the firm conducted, 80% of the population are mislead into thinking that the all reflector system makes them adequately conspicuous and safe for night riding.

The young man thought that the reflectors made it so that his bicycle could be seen at night. Bicycle manufacturers never warned him or others that a headlight on the bicycle was necessary for safe night riding. The firm argued that a light should be a standard feature and that a decal warning to use a light should be on all bikes.

The young man was a high school student who dreamed of being a doctor. The bicycle accident left him partially paralyzed on one side of his body, facially disfigured and caused a complete loss of smell. His injuries make speaking and walking very difficult. He is also permanently disabled from work.

An attorney at the firm says, “A bicycle is every child’s first taste of freedom. Manufacturers must take greater responsibility for warning everyone that a light on the bike is a must for safe night riding. Tragedies like this occur because the all reflector system is misleading.”