A man in Connecticut recently filed a lawsuit against New York City bike-sharing system Citi Bike after he was severely injured while riding one of its bicycles. As a result of the bike accident he now suffers from traumatic nerve palsy and is seeking $15 million in damages. Bicycle accident attorneys at Pintas & Mullins examine this case and whether claims against bike-sharing companies will be permitted in court.
Bike-sharing programs, such as Divvy in Chicago and Citi Bike in New York, are becoming more and more prevalent throughout the country. These programs allow people of all ages to rent bicycles, typically for short periods of time, to run errands or just enjoy a nice day. Bicycles are available to rent from docking stations in every nook and cranny of the city.
The plaintiff in this case, a 73-year-old Ronald Corwin, flipped over the handlebars of a Citi Bike when the front wheel struck a low barrier near the docking station in the fall of 2013. Corwin suffered traumatic nerve palsy from the accident, leaving him unable to taste or smell. Nerve palsy occurs as a result of direct or indirect damage to the cranial nerve, and is often associated with birth injuries.
Corwin argues that he was unable to see the concrete barrier because it was the exact same color as the road. According to the Daily News, the barrier, located in Midtown, is now painted bright orange. The paper also asserts that Corwin is the first person to file a personal injury suit against Citi Bike.
In New York City's contract with Citi Bike, it is Citi's insurance company that would be responsible for any lawsuits involving bicycle accidents or mishaps, so the city is protected. Corwin asserts, that, since the accident, his life has turned inside out, having to go from one medical specialists to another to find relief from his head trauma. His physicians say his inability to taste and smell is likely permanent.
He believes the barrier, otherwise referred to as a wheelstop, was negligently placed in the path of Citi Bike riders. The wheelstop at East 56th Street and Madison Avenue is directly in front of the docking station and blends in with the pavement and nearby crosswalk. It is about six feet long and six inches high. Although now the barrier is painted orange and has cones around it, Corwin argues that at the time of his accident there was no indication warning bicyclists that the wheelstop was there.
Divvy Injuries Also Prompt Lawsuits
A similar lawsuit was recently filed in Chicago after a pregnant woman riding a Divvy bicycle was struck by a motorist. The 34-year-old woman was cycling down Augusta Boulevard in the bike lane in September 2013 when she was struck at the intersection of Ashland Avenue. The person who hit her was driving a Ford pickup truck and is an employee of the Illinois Department of Transportation.