Motorcyclists are more at risk than average motorists in vehicle collisions. They do not have the protections that come with driving a standard motor vehicle, such as the metal frame of the car or a seat belt. One of the most serious injuries that threaten motorcyclists in accidents is traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). If a motorcyclist hits his or her head in an accident, it can cause a serious and even permanent injury to the brain.
What Is a Traumatic Brain Injury?
A traumatic brain injury is an injury to the brain or its surrounding fluids due to blunt force trauma or an impact against the skull. If the head strikes something, such as a road surface in a motorcycle accident, it can seriously injure the brain. A traumatic injury can lead to swelling or bleeding, as well as related brain cell damage. Unfortunately, brain cells cannot always heal themselves. Brain cell death can lead to permanent damage and disability.
Motorcyclists are at a high risk of traumatic brain injuries in accidents. Their heads may strike objects such as the motor vehicle or the asphalt at high velocities. These injuries are often fatal. If a motorcyclist survives the accident, he or she can experience long-lasting symptoms from a TBI, such as headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, trouble walking, difficulty communicating, cognitive challenges and mood swings. These symptoms may or may not dissipate over time with rest and medical care.
How Can a Helmet Help in a Motorcycle Accident?
A safety-tested and approved motorcycle helmet can absorb most of the force of the impact instead of the skull in a motorcycle accident. Motorcycle helmets are designed to cushion and absorb blunt force trauma, better protecting the skull and brain. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, helmets reduce the risk of head injury in a motorcycle accident by 69 percent and the risk of death by 37 percent.
Wearing a helmet can drastically reduce the risk of suffering a traumatic brain injury that impacts the motorcyclist for life. Most motorcycle helmets also have face shields. These are important for protecting the face, mouth, teeth and eyes from serious injuries in accidents. Without anything protecting the face, a motorcyclist could suffer severe road rash, permanent scarring, disfigurement, lost teeth and impaired vision due to the effects of an accident.
What if You Weren’t Wearing a Helmet in an Accident?
As of August 2020, Missouri law allows motorcyclists who are 26 and older to ride without helmets if they have health insurance and adequate proof of financial responsibility. Before this law was passed, all motorcyclists had to wear protective headgear. Reports since this law was repealed has resulted in a spike of motorcycle deaths.
Under the new law, if you did not legally have to wear a helmet at the time of your accident, going without one may not be usable as a defense against liability. In other words, the other driver may not be able to argue that your failure to wear a helmet makes you partially responsible for your injuries.
If, however, the law required you to wear a helmet, failing to do so may be used against you. This could reduce your financial recovery by making the defendant less liable for your traumatic brain injury. A lawyer can help you understand the helmet defense and whether it is applicable in your case.
Contact a Missouri TBI Motorcycle Accident Attorney
A TBI from a motorcycle accident can cost the victim and his or her family hundreds of thousands of dollars in lifetime medical expenses. Victims also often suffer losses such as missed time at work, lost capacity to earn and expensive property damage. In addition, a motorcycle accident can inflict significant mental, emotional and psychological suffering on a survivor.
If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with a traumatic brain injury after a motorcycle accident in Kansas City, contact an attorney right away. An attorney can fight for the maximum value of your brain injury claim, aggressively negotiating for the financial compensation that your family deserves.