League of Michigan Bicyclists

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What To Do When Your Bicycle Equipment Fails

At some point, each of us will experience some type of bicycle-equipment failure. Following are some guidelines in the event this happens.

Ask what the warranty covers and its terms prior to purchasing equipment. Some bike manufacturers may require bike and component installation to be performed by a certified bike mechanic in order for a warranty to be honored. For that reason, we highly recommend that your bike and components be purchased and installed by a respected bike shop. Not only will most bike shops have some type of warranty policy of if its own beyond the manufacturer's warranty, but it will make sure the bike is in working order and properly install any components. Additionally, most bike shops have a trained mechanic that will measure you for proper fit and proper components.

Used bikes and components may not come with a warranty, so ask the bike shop if it offers any supplemental or extended warranty. It's always good to ask what the warranty covers and its terms prior to purchasing the equipment, so you know what to do in the event of equipment failure.

Retain all Receipts and Warranty Booklets. Keep ALL receipts for any bike or component purchases. Keep all these items in a folder, so you can easily access them. The warranty usually begins to run from the date of purchase, and the receipt should clearly indicate the date and place of purchase. In addition to the actual credit card or cash receipt, retain copies of the store receipt. If the receipts don't clearly indicate the name, address and telephone number of the shop, as well as the exact year, make and model of the bike and components purchased, then we recommend writing these items somewhere on the receipt. Keep a copy of the proof of purchase of components. The proof of purchase is usually located on the item's box. Receipts and proof of purchase are critically important when seeking repair, replacement or warranty coverage. They are also crucial when making an insurance claim. For insurance and warranty purposes, we also recommend that a photograph of the bike (including all race wheels and other race add-ons) be kept along with your warranty information. In the event the receipts are lost or destroyed, the photograph will serve as a record of the purchased bike or component. The photograph should be periodically updated whenever a component is added or changed.

Retain all damaged and failed equipment, until your warranty or insurance claim has been resolved. When a failure does occur, it is very important to keep the entire bike, including any components that fail, for inspection. We can't tell you how many times we have represented client's that discard, repair, misplace or lose the failed product, BEFORE a manufacturer, dealer or insurance agent has a chance to inspect the bike and component. In litigation this is called spoliation and applies to all products, from cars to electric toothbrushes. When spoliation occurs, the person who is seeking money for property damage or personal injury may be prevented from recovery even if a third-party (i.e. police) discards the product.

Maintain your bike. Remember to replace worn out bikes or bike components before they fail. If you fail to care properly for your bike or equipment, sometimes a warranty will be invalidated. Keep a maintenance log and routinely inspect your equipment. If you doubt the durability or safety or any component, have a bike shop inspect it. Retain your receipts for all work performed and keep them with your other warranty documents.
Consult an attorney regarding your rights, if you are injured due to a bicycle equipment defect. Should an injury occur because of bike or component failure, you should consult an attorney. Product liability is a complex area of litigation, because it is often difficult to determine the proper parties. There are often strict timelines to follow relating to notification of the various parties and often the manufacturer of a bike or component is different than that stated on the product. Timely notification of the proper parties is very crucial. If these timelines are not strictly followed, failure to comply could prevent an otherwise valid claim from being pursued. When making a claim for damages, evidence gathering may involve determining if there have been any product recalls or similar product failures. Sometimes an expert, such as a mechanical or materials expert, needs to be consulted to give his or her opinion as to the exact cause of the failure. An attorney can help you with all of these factors and ensure your claim is properly handled.

As always, feel free to contact us with questions you may have regarding this or any related legal issue. Ride safely.


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