Bicycles and kids go hand-in-hand. We think of kids riding bikes as a typical childhood pastime. But does the same go for kids and e-bikes?
The family of Molly Steinsapir doesn’t think so.
The parents are suing an e-bike company after their daughter was tragically killed while riding one. What happened, and what message does the family want to send to the e-bike industry?
What Went Wrong on the E-Bike Ride?
On January 31, 2021, in Los Angeles, 12-year-old Molly Steinsapir and her friend, 11, decided to take an e-bike for a ride. The bike belonged to the friend’s 13-year-old sister. Details of a recent lawsuit shared by The New York Times explain what happened next.
The 11-year-old drove the bike while Molly sat on a rack that covered the bike’s back wheel. The two rode up a hill that would have been too steep and difficult for them to climb on a manual bike. The electric boost propelled them up the hill. The e-bike could go up to 20 miles per hour without being pedaled.
When they got to the top and turned to go down the hill, the e-bike “began to rapidly pick up speed, and it began shaking,” according to the lawsuit. The friend “applied the rear brake, but the bicycle did not slow. She then pulled the front brake, but the bike did not stop, and the front wheel began to wobble.”
Both girls were thrown from the bike. Molly was knocked unconscious and taken to Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center, where doctors found that she had sustained a traumatic brain injury.
From the hospital, Molly’s mother, Kaye Steinsapir, began sharing her daughter’s story. She wrote a post calling for support and continued to share updates over the next 16 days. As Molly underwent several brain surgeries, a community rallied around her and the hashtag #TeamMolly.
But Molly’s injuries were too serious to overcome, and Molly died on February 15, 2021.
Why Should the E-Bike Company Be Responsible?
Molly’s parents believe their daughter’s death should never have happened, and they want to prevent something similar from happening again.
On August 1, 2022, Molly’s parents, Kaye and Jonathan Steinsapir filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Rad Power Bikes, the manufacturer of the e-bike Molly was riding.
The Steinsapirs believe there are two primary reasons why the Seattle company should be held accountable. In the lawsuit, they allege that the bike was inappropriately marketed to kids and that a design flaw makes it inherently dangerous.
As reported by The New York Times, the lawsuit alleges that the company engaged in “inappropriate marketing of e-bikes to children,” and failed to “adequately warn about the dangers of children operating e-bikes.” The company’s website said some bikes were suitable for riders 4 feet 10 inches or taller and included photographs of children as passengers. Yet, the 57-page owner manual includes a warning on page 49 that says, “RadRunner is designed for use by persons 18 years old and older.”
The family also says flaws in bike design made it difficult for riders to slow down and stop. When going downhill, it is difficult to stop as the bike gains speed.
They hope the lawsuit will move the e-bike company to make changes.
What Are the Goals of the Lawsuit?
Molly’s parents have not requested a specific amount of damages in the lawsuit against Rad Power Bikes. They have asked for the jury to determine the amount of damages.
The Steinsapirs say their goal of the lawsuit is to make sure the tragic accident doesn’t happen again.
Since its founding in 2007, Rad Power Bikes has received more than $300 million in investment. The Steinsapirs want to make sure similar accidents don’t happen in the future.
“We want to better understand what happened, why, and how future tragedies like this can be avoided,” Mr. Steinsapir wrote in a letter that is included in the lawsuit.
Talk to an Experienced Wrongful Death Attorney
If the negligence of a person or company leads to injury or death, you can fight for justice. A wrongful death attorney can hold an at-fault party accountable for actions that led to serious injury or death.
Talk to an attorney about the details of your situation to find out if you have a case worth pursuing. TJ Grimaldi is an experienced attorney who can help you determine if you have a case worth fighting for. Schedule your consultation or call 813-226-1023 today.