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Trek recalls bicycles to mitigate injury and company liability

Attention San Diego cyclists –

Trek Bicycles is recalling nearly one million bicycles across the United States and Canada. The part needing replacement is the front wheel quick-release latch, but most accidents caused by the part stem from user error. Even so, Trek chose to take dramatic action. Why?

The defect was discovered recently but is found in bicycles going back to 1999. The front wheel’s quick release lever can open more than 180 degrees. If it does so it can catch on the brake, ejecting either the rider or the wheel, and causing an accident. Three accidents related to the defect are reported, the most serious of which left the rider completely paralyzed.

Outside Online explains this is typically caused by user error: the quick release latch must be flipped around after screwing the screw. Fail to do this and the screw can loosen over time, freeing the latch to rotate and eventually catch in the brake.

PR and recalls are not a good mix.

Product recalls are not good for companies. Not only is there the cost of product returns or repairs, there’s bad press. “Trek decided that customer safety outweighed PR [or negative press] in this case,” writes OO.

We’d like to believe that Trek cares more for their customers than for their reputation, and we hope it’s true, but what they are not saying is that this recall is also about limiting their legal liability.

Would Trek be liable for “user error”?

Manufacturers are responsible for the products they sell, and can be held responsible for damages caused by those products. So long as it is reasonably foreseeable that someone could get hurt, there could be liability. By publicizing the defect, which has caused damage to three out of nearly one million persons riding effected bicycles, Trek avoids a “failure to warn” liability. The recall itself mitigates “strict liability” where they could be liable for damages even if the product works properly when used properly.

For your safety, if you or someone you know rides this kind of bicycle, consult your nearest Trek retailer on whether your bicycle qualifies. The replacement parts and their installation are free, and Trek is offering $20 Bontrager coupons to the affected.

More information can be found on Trek’s online recall notice or from their safety and recall hotline at (800) 373-4594.

Have you or anyone you know been involved in an accident through no fault of your own? Contact the experienced bicycle accident attorneys of the Elia Law Firm located in San Diego.

Steven Elia

Steven Elia

Mr. Elia has extensive litigation experience having appeared at more than 1,000 civil hearings including jury and bench trials, over 500 depositions, and hundreds of mediations. Some of his cases have made national headlines. He specializes in personal injury, business law and civil litigation in and around San Diego.