Bicycle accidents can inflict life-threatening and fatal injuries on bicyclists. Even a collision that seems minor could send a cyclist to the hospital with serious injuries. With no protection other than possibly a helmet, the average cyclist is extremely prone to injury when struck by a motor vehicle. Virtually every part of a bicyclist’s body is at risk of injury, from head to toe.
Head Trauma and Brain Injuries
A bicyclist could hit his or her head on the body of a motor vehicle or the asphalt in an accident. The impact between the skull and another object can cause a skull fracture and serious traumatic brain injuries, including bleeding or swelling in the brain. A concussion is a common type of head injury suffered by cyclists. It can cause headaches, dizziness, nausea, memory loss and potentially more serious symptoms, including coma and permanent brain damage. Wearing a helmet can significantly reduce the risk of suffering a brain injury in a bicycle accident.
With or without a helmet, a bicyclist could suffer serious injuries to the face in an accident. If the cyclist’s head or face strikes the pavement or a fixed object, it could cause injuries such as a broken nose, shattered teeth, severe facial lacerations, a broken jaw, or road rash that results in significant scarring or disfigurement.
Neck, Spine and Back Injuries
Erratic motion of the head and neck in an accident can cause soft-tissue damage in the neck, such as whiplash. This is a painful injury that can cause immobility. The forces from the impact itself could also injure the victim’s back or spinal cord, especially if the cyclist is thrown from the bike and lands on his or her back, The spine could suffer bruising, contusions or vertebral fractures. In the most serious cases, spinal cord injuries can cause permanent paralysis.
Bicycle accidents often result in bone fractures or broken bones, particularly in the collarbone, ribs, and extremities (arms and legs). Broken bones in different parts of the body can lead to life-threatening complications. A broken rib, for example, could puncture a lung and cause the lung to collapse. Some bone fractures can cause permanent nerve damage or loss of mobility in the affected area.
A bicyclist could suffer internal injuries in a crash, especially if he or she gets pulled beneath a car or truck and crushed. Internal injuries can include damage to one or more organs, such as the kidneys, lungs, spleen or liver, and internal bleeding. In some cases, these injuries are not immediately obvious and can result in dangerous delays in the biker receiving medical attention.
Road rash refers to extensive skin damage caused by contact with rough ground, such as gravel or asphalt. If a bicyclist’s body gets dragged or thrown across the ground, it can cause major cuts, scrapes, abrasions, lacerations and friction burns to the tissues. These injuries can be painful and come with a risk of infection. Road rash often causes permanent scarring or disfigurement. If rubble or debris gets embedded too deeply in the skin, it can cause a unique type of scarring known as traumatic tattooing, as well.
Lower Extremity Injuries
A cyclist’s body from the waist down is at a high risk of injury in a collision with a car or truck. The bicyclist’s legs may become pinned or trapped between two vehicles, for example, or get run over. This can cause painful bone fractures and/or muscle sprains and strains in the legs, knees, shins, ankles or feet. The femur (thighbone) is the longest bone in the body, and can be significantly painful and debilitating if injured.
If you sustain any type of injury in a bicycle accident, consult with a Kansas City bicycle accident attorney at Dickerson Oxton to explore your legal options. You may be entitled to financial compensation.