Traumatic Brain Injuries

Bicycle accidents and head injuries have become inextricably linked. Even when cyclists wear helmets, there is always a chance that the force of impact will be too powerful for the helmet to withstand.

The U.S. standard for bicycle helmets is to absorb the impact of a cyclist falling at 10 mph. This often doesn’t realistically replicate the circumstances of a serious crash. Although helmets do undoubtedly serve to prevent or reduce bicycle injuries, they can’t circumvent them entirely.

When traumatic brain injuries occur as a result of a bicycle accident, there may be extreme, long-term or permanent damage or disability. In some instances, it can be fatal.

At The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman and BikeAttorney.com, our injury lawyers are committed to fighting tirelessly for the rights and best interests of those who have suffered a traumatic brain injury as a result of a Boston bicycle accident. Most often, these instances are the result of a driver’s carelessness or recklessness.

What is a Traumatic Brain Injury?

Traumatic brain injury is one of the major causes of death and disability in the U.S. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports nearly a third of all injury-related deaths can be attributed at least in part to traumatic brain injury. In fact, 1 in 138 people in this country die every day from causes related to traumatic brain injury.

Traumatic brain injury – or TBI – is the result of a bump, blow or jolt to the head or some type of penetrating head injury that causes a disruption to normal brain functions. Not all such impacts will cause a TBI, but many do.

Not all of these are bicycle-related, of course, but a growing number are as cycling increases in popularity. Motor vehicle accidents in general account for nearly 15 percent of all 2.5 million traumatic brain injuries annually treated in hospital emergency rooms. Auto accidents – including those involving bicycles – accounted for 26 percent of all TBI-related deaths.

In its most “mild” form, a TBI is referred to as a concussion.

However, it can be difficult to diagnose a TBI because it’s often a complex injury with a broad spectrum of symptoms and disabilities. In some cases, a person may initially seem fine and display no symptoms, only to become terribly afflicted hours or even days later. That’s why it is so important to seek immediate medical attention after a Boston bicycle accident, even if it doesn’t seem as if the victim has suffered any major injury. You need to be sure. Plus, if the person has suffered a TBI, the fact that it is recorded by medical professionals in the immediate aftermath will improve the chances the cyclist can recover compensation for this injuries.

Generally, a moderate traumatic brain injury is one that results in:

  • Unconsciousness lasting more than 30 minutes;
  • Memory problems;
  • Headache;
  • Confusion;
  • Blurry vision;
  • Nausea and vomiting;
  • Ringing in the ear;
  • Difficulty speaking coherently;
  • Changes in sleep patterns or emotions.

While these symptoms are similar to those suffered by those diagnosed with a concussion, or mild traumatic brain injury, they are typically more severe and longer lasting.

Generally, a severe traumatic brain injury is one that results in:

  • More than 24 hours of unconsciousness
  • Dilated pupils, “raccoon eyes” (severe bruising on or around both eyes) or unequal pupil dilation
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light or sound
  • Balance disorder/ dizziness
  • Mood disorders
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Slurred speech/ impaired voice
  • Abnormal behavior (aggression, irritability, repetition, laughing/crying, lack of restraint)

In the most serious cases, catastrophic head injuries can result in permanent disability, including a persistent vegetative state.

Traumatic Brain Injuries and Cycling

Bicycle accidents have become the No. 1 cause of sports-related traumatic brain injuries in the U.S., according to research by the American Association of Neurological Surgeons. There are approximately 86,000 TBIs annually caused by cycling that result in a trip to the emergency room. That’s about one-fifth of the total number of sports-related TBIs.

Among children under 14, cycling result in approximately 40,000 annual emergency department visits for TBI.

Part of this is that more people ride bikes than play football. Still, these numbers remain troubling and they’re only going to grow as bicycling becomes more popular, especially in urban areas like Boston.

Boston EMS officials reported 1,700 cycling accidents to which they responded between 2009 and 2012.

The City of Boston’s Cyclist Safety Report indicated that injured cyclists in Boston are less likely to be wearing a helmet than the average rider. Most cyclist crashes that did result in injury were the result of bike collisions with motor vehicles.

Contact the Boston Bicycle Accident Lawyers at The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman and BikeAttorney.com at (888) 789-BIKE.