Wear a Helmet to Protect against Traumatic Brain Injury

Bike accident lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm warn the public that traumatic brain injuries are one of the most debilitating injuries, and often result in life-altering injury and death. For bicyclists, wearing a helmet significantly decreases the chance of both traumatic and minor brain injuries.

Research shows that, even though bike riding has increased over the last few decades, helmet use has remained stagnant. Some bicyclists think they do not need one because they ride only for recreation, opposed to racing. Others blame the streets and drivers for the high number of fatal crashes, claiming that if American streets were made safer and motorists learned how to share the road, helmets would not be necessary.

This argument is reinforced by European cities like Amsterdam and Copenhagen, where helmet use is rare, yet very few people are seriously hurt or injured in bicycling accidents. These cities have independent bike lanes and traffic signals, and most citizens prefer to bike as their standard mode of transportation, so interactions with cars are infrequent.

In Chicago, city planners have taken a page out of Amsterdam’s book and implemented a similar system on Dearborn Street, stretching from Polk to Kinzie. The two-way bike lanes opened in December 2012, and are a high-profile component of Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s efforts to make Chicago one of the world’s most bike-friendly cities. His efforts are an attempt to socially re-determine how Chicagoans commute and generally get around the urban center. The Dearborn project, which boasts its own bike-traffic lights, is just one part of the 30 miles of new bike lanes that are expected to be constructed in 2013.

In Dallas, cyclists not wearing helmets face pretty hefty fines, especially for multiple offenses. If the Texan residents are caught not wearing a helmet once, the fine is $10. Twice, it rises to $25, and every other time after that, riders must pay a $50 fine. City transportation planners are working to improve street conditions for cyclists in Dallas, but helmet use is still essential.

The human brain is only minimally protected by the skull and skin, so even minor falls and accidents can lead to traumatic, life-altering injuries. One study found that wearing a helmet reduced the risk of head injury by 85% and reduced the risk of brain injury by 88%. Data from the Department of Transportation’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System found that a staggering 91% of cyclists killed in 2008 were not wearing a helmet.

Many people don’t realize that brain injuries are not able to be treated or healed like on other parts of the body. If someone suffers a severe brain injury, there is not very much doctors can do. Treatments are very different than those for broken legs or even for chronic diseases, and are often extremely limited.

Brain injuries can range from mild to severe, and side effects vary depending on which part of the brain is hurt. Mild injuries can affect sleep, attention, and memory, among other things. Moderate to severe brain injuries can cause complete loss of cognitive and mobile abilities, and are especially dangerous in children, because their brains are still developing. Unfortunately, helmets do not protect against concussions, which is when the brain moves within the skull. Helmets only protect against the impact force from a fall.

Currently, 22 states and the District of Columbia have state-wide laws requiring bike riders to wear helmets, although most are only required for those under the age of 18. Bicyclists reserve the right to sue drivers if they cut them off or otherwise cause them great physical injury, and have recovered millions of dollars.

Traumatic brain injury lawyers at Pintas & Mullins Law Firm have extensive experience handling unique cases of brain injuries, resulting from bicycling accidents, sports, shaken baby syndrome, and gun injuries among others. If you or a loved one suffered a traumatic brain injury through the negligence of others, you have important legal rights, and may be entitled to compensation.

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