Call Now For A FREE Consultation

(727) 451-6900

Get a Free Consult

A Warning To Bike Renters

With Tampa continually being ranked as a top city in the Southeast to live in, offering an abundance of culture and amenities at livable prices, one can only presume from the multitude of rising figures that relate to job growth and the development of more housing that the expansion of infrastructure will encourage more people to live here. With an already crowded area, as concluded from the heavy traffic[1], public transportation has been given a new face lift by a company called Coast Bike Share[2].

On their website, they suggest that using their rental bikes around the city helps to keep our carbon footprint down and saves you money among many other things. Their motto, “Good for you; Good for Tampa; Clean Living,” is subsequently supported with asserting that “coast helps you enjoy an active lifestyle while alleviating traffic, reducing pollution and making commuting fun.” Activities such as these promote a healthy, easy going lifestyle.

However, signing the agreement to use one of these rentals can waive a lot of rights that people may not understand fully. That doesn’t mean that using one of the bikes will automatically be a negative way to travel or that the cost of a possible accident is too risky; in an optimistic light, it may end up being all the company suggests for a renter. Yet, riding one of the bikes means that as the person liable for an expensive city-owned bike, you should know who is accountable for what and why. Product liability in bike rentals can be hard to understand because of the rental agreements and waivers signed before the transaction occurs.

Types of Agreements

  • Activity releases such as the ones used for bike riding and racing events have had some amount of success for covering damages that may be caused by the rider and/or company. They should include an assumption of risk doctrine which riders sign; acknowledging that they know the physical activity they are participating in has vulnerabilities.
  • Product sales releases which claim to deny liability for a defective product, have not had much success because of the loss of risk claim associated with the activity rather than the just bike itself. If there were to be a biking accident, this would not help because more than likely, unless specifically described in the accident as the sole reason, the rider would be at fault, not the product. Product defect allegations and failure to warn allegations are harder to defeat.
  • Rental releases** are a hybrid of the two since the renter is looking for a specific product to perform a specific activity or to fill a specific need. This is the best kind of release because it covers both the activity and product. Much of the success of the defense in a dispute will depend upon the cause of action alleged by the plaintiff. Negligence allegations against the retailer are easier to defeat with a good release. This is because the company and/or person should have known about all risks associated with the bike or activity through this waiver.
  • Express and implied warranty claims can be disclaimed by an express waiver. Therefore, the product accountability allegations would be harder to claim. If the manufacturer is brought into the case, rather than just the company supplying the rental itself, the defense could be that the rental bicycle was not properly maintained by the retailer, which would have greater impact than if alleged against the plaintiff (rental company), as retailers are presumed to know the maintenance requirements of the bicycle. The rental situation is a lot like a sale except the transaction is continual for the same bike, over and over again, which may have been unknowingly abused or modified by other renters.

No release is perfect and one release could never cover every unusual circumstance that could possibly arise. Being able to distinguish the good waivers from the bad can help renters understand what exactly they may be giving up in court later on. The Coast Bike Share program in Tampa has the third release (**) mentioned above, along with strict instructions on personal agreements of their own so that all bases are covered. It is your responsibility as a renter to read all the terms and conditions of the agreement. Many do not like to read all of it because of how dry it is, however, it’s for your own protection down the road.

Dolman Law Group

If you or a loved one is renting a bike and would like to know your rights when doing so based on waivers, please come in for a free consultation and evaluation of the documents. If unfortunately there was a bike accident and you need to file a claim against the company or manufacturer, please call the bike rental lawyers at Dolman Law Group today for complete care. You can reach the firm at (727) 451-6900

Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765
(727) 451-6900

https://www.dolmanlaw.com/legal-services/bicycle-injury-attorneys/

References:

[1] http://www.tampabay.com/news/transportation/tampa-bay-traffic-congestion-is-even-worse-than-boston-study-finds/2224039
[2] http://coastbikeshare.com/