If you provide a bike in CT you don’t have to provide a helmet

Herbst et al. v. The Guilford Yacht Club Association, Inc. et al., 2009 Conn. Super. LEXIS 765

However, if I were providing, renting or demoing bicycles I would make helmets available if a retailer. A bike sharing program is different.

In this case the plaintiff borrowed a bicycle from the defendant yacht club. The plaintiff crashed and sued the yacht club for allowing her to use a defective bicycle and for providing a bicycle without a helmet.

The lawsuit is a little different than I ordinary review because of the type of motion that was filed that created the decision. This was a motion to strike. A motion to strike says that specific paragraphs of the plaintiff’s claim fail to make the minimum allegations or cannot be proved no matter what and therefore should be stricken from the complaint.

The plaintiff sued for “negligence for failure to inspect, maintain, house, and test the defective bicycle, failure to warn that the bike was unsafe, and failure to provide the plaintiff with a helmet or access to helmets.” The defendant filed this motion to strike the complaints over whether there could be liability for failure to provide a helmet.

The court agreed with the defendant and struck the claims of the plaintiff alleging negligence in failing to provide a helmet.

So? Summary of the case

The court looked to see if any Connecticut statute or court had created a duty to provide a helmet with a bicycle. Connecticut had a statute that required persons under the age of sixteen to wear helmets when riding bikes, but not adults. The court found that because there was no statute or duty an adult was “fully capable of rationalizing the risks of riding a bicycle with or without a helmet, and may choose to act accordingly.”

The court further reasoned that if the plaintiff was concerned about not having a helmet she could have not ridden the bicycle.

So Now What?

This is a great case to support bike sharing programs or businesses that provide bicycles as a service, for free and for no benefit to themselves to guests. There may be a different decision if you are renting the bicycle. If you are renting the bicycle or providing the bicycle with the intention to make money (demo rides) you might make helmets available. Whether or not a person decides to ride with a helmet is their choice.

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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