Just days after the City Bike Renters program launch from 330 kiosks throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, the CITI Bike program had its first accident. While that might be disturbing consider that in approximately the same period of time (the program’s first three days) about 6,000 rides were taken lasting an average 20 minutes with 13,768 miles traveled.

Note that records for a recent year (2011) show 369 severely injured bicyclists and 22 fatalities. Based on preliminary research in cities where bike sharing programs have already been implemented, these accidents occur among people with more experience and perhaps have a greater propensity to wear helmets than tourists and other more casual riders who chose to rent a CITI Bike. Will the program lead to a higher accident rate? And regardless of the rate, who will bear the responsibility for catastrophically injured bicyclists on CITI Bikes?

New York laws do not require helmets on individuals over age 13, yet the city has distributed more than 50,000 free helmets in the past six years. Helmets effectively help prevent the most serious  injuries in bike accidents.

CITI Bike users are urged to call 911 in the case of any accident and to file a CITI Bike Crash Report within 24 hours.

In all likelihood, existing laws will apply to bike share program accidents. In other words, those at fault should pay, including negligent drivers of vehicles, the city for failing to maintain safe streets, and individuals responsible for “dooring “ accidents. When others are at fault, they should be held responsible for personal injuries, property loss, and pain and suffering, where applicable.

If you have been injured in any cycling accident, involving your own bike or a CITI Bike rental, speak with a bike accident lawyer.

In addition, this type of personal injury case would be taken on a contingency basis, meaning the plaintiff would not pay legal fees until a satisfactory settlement or verdict is obtained.