Bicyclists must abide by the same rules that vehicles abide by. That means that they have to pay attention to and obey traffic signs, traffic lights, lane markers, other traffic signals, and ride in the same direction as traffic. A bicycle must also have a light on the front and a red light or red reflector on the rear if they are riding at night. Additionally, bicyclists must use proper hand signals for turning, slowing down, and stopping. Finally, bicyclists should wear a helmet and other personal protective equipment when riding, regardless of the time of day.
But drivers have their own duties, and when they fail to meet them and strike a cyclist, their negligence can result in a legal claim for compensation.
Head injuries can result in some of the most debilitating and even deadly results of motorist negligence, causing millions of dollars in medical and long-term care expenses. A bike accident lawyer can help you file a claim to recover those and other costs.
Read on for more information about bicycle accidents and head injuries.
Even when you are a careful bicyclist who abides by all the rules of the road, you may get involved in an accident. Not all drivers watch for bicyclists while driving. Sometimes, a driver cannot avoid hitting you because of something another driver is doing, or fails to do, on the road. Sometimes, drivers cannot see a bicyclist on the road. You can make it easier for drivers to see you by wearing light and/or reflective clothing. This especially helps if you ride at night.
Never trust that a driver sees you; always look out for drivers and make sure you can hear what is going on around you. You should also make sure that your helmet fits you correctly. A helmet that is too big or too small may cause as much damage as riding without a helmet at all.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in one recent year, 857 bicyclists were killed throughout the United States. Even a small vehicle can cause substantial damage when facing a bicycle. Bicycles offer no protection for the rider, and they risk serious injury or death if they are in an accident on the road.
The National Institutes of Health found that 85 percent of bicyclist deaths stem from head injuries. The organization found that, of those who suffered from head injuries, the records failed to indicate whether the bicyclist was wearing a helmet in 37.8 percent of the cases. But, of the remaining 62 percent, only 17.4 percent were wearing a helmet, and 44.8 percent were not wearing one. The study also found that 28.1 percent of those not wearing helmets were more likely to suffer a brain injury.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
In a nutshell, a traumatic brain injury can result from an incident like hitting your head on the pavement when you are in a bicycle accident. A traumatic brain injury does not have to be an open injury. A severe bump or jolt to the head could cause a traumatic brain injury. An object that penetrates the head could also cause a traumatic brain injury.
Symptoms of a traumatic brain injury could be anything ranging from a mild concussion to a long-term disability to death. Some symptoms could take hours or even days to manifest. After an accident, even if you think you feel fine, you should always seek medical attention. If you hit your head or you believe you hit your head, always tell emergency personnel and follow appropriate medical advice.
Other Bicycle Accident Injuries
In addition to traumatic brain injuries, you could suffer several additional injuries, including those that cause long-term damage. Injuries may be as minor as bruises and scratches or as severe as internal injuries and brain injuries that could lead to death.
Bicycle accident injuries may include:
- Bumps, bruises, scrapes, and cuts;
- Mild to severe road rash;
- Strains, sprains, pulled or torn muscles, and other soft-tissue injuries;
- Compound and simple fractures;
- Internal injuries;
- Head, neck, and shoulder injuries;
- Back and spinal cord injuries;
- Amputation; and
After a bicycle accident, you may collect damages from an at-fault driver. Texas allows victims the opportunity to pursue economic and non-economic damages. In some cases, they can receive punitive damages. However, for punitive damages to be a possible remedy, the victim would have to show gross negligence of the driver.
Special damages, or economic damages, have a specific dollar amount attached to them and could include:
- Past medical expenses incurred before settlement or a jury verdict.
- Future medical expenses for those incurred after a settlement or jury verdict. If the injuries cause permanent severe disabilities, future medical expenses may be awarded for life.
- Past lost wages for those lost before settlement or a jury verdict.
- Future lost wages for those lost as a result of the bicycle injury’s long-term effects. This may be available even if the victim can return to work, but in a lesser capacity, or in a profession that pays less than they were making before the accident. If this is the case, partial future lost wages may be an available option to pursue.
- Replacement or repair of personal property that was damaged or destroyed in the accident.
- Funeral and burial expenses.
General damages, or non-economic damages, do not have a specific dollar amount attached to them. They are usually awarded if the injuries from the accident result in a long-term disability. The Social Security Administration defines a long-term disability as one that doctors expect to last at least 12 months or one resulting in a fatality. However, insurance companies and courts may have their own definitions.
Non-economic damages may include:
- Pain and suffering.
- Emotional distress.
- Loss of companionship.
- Loss of consortium.
- Extra money for excessive scarring and disfigurement.
- Loss of enjoyment of life.
- Loss of use of a body part.
- Loss of use of a bodily function.
Biking can be a healthy and fun hobby when you stay safe. If you suffered injuries in a bicycle accident or you lost a loved one in a bicycle accident, contact a bicycle accident attorney today for a free consultation.