According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), approximately 700 cyclists die every year due to accidents involving vehicles.
Many others are left with traumatic brain injuries as a result of such accidents, often because they were not wearing a helmet at the time of the crash.
Traumatic brain injuries can lead to headaches, fatigue, changes in mood, memory problems, sleep disorders, and a host of other health problems, according to Chicago’s Rush University Medical Center. In some cases, injuries can be catastrophic in nature. (There’s a reason why such injuries are referred to as traumatic.)
Here’s what else the NHTSA has to say on the issue:
- Bike helmets prevent traumatic brain injuries in 88 percent of serious crashes.
- Less than half of bike riders wear helmets.
- Teens rarely wear helmets when riding their bikes.
While it would seem given the statistics that helmet laws would be as prevalent as seatbelt laws, that’s not the case.
According to Bicycling magazine, 22 states and the District of Columbia have mandatory helmet laws in place for minors and California is considering similar legislation for adults, but in general, states have essentially allowed adults to make their own decisions about wearing bike helmets.
Many cities, however, have legislated what states have not and do have mandatory helmet laws in place for both children and adults.
Helmet laws: Why do I need to know?
If you choose not to wear a helmet despite the strong evidence supporting the benefits, it’s important to understand helmet laws before setting out on a bike ride, because such laws can make a big difference if you’re in a collision with a car.
If you’re in a city that has a helmet law and you’re not wearing one, for example, it will likely be more difficult to be compensated if you sustain any injuries in a crash, because being in violation of the helmet law will make you negligent in association with the accident, even if the driver was 100 percent at fault.
That negligence will mean that you will be found at least half responsible for the accident, and any damages you may be entitled to will also be slashed in half. If you sustain a traumatic brain injury, which may mean that you’re unable to work and may have significant medical bills, the losses can also be significant.
If you were injured on a bike, call an attorney
While seeking medical help should be your first priority, if you are in an accident while riding your bike, no matter if you were wearing a helmet, you should also seek the advice of a bike accident lawyer with experience in bike injury cases.
Medical bills, lost wages and other expenses can add up fast, and even if you are found negligent for not wearing a helmet, you can still seek damages from the driver who was at fault.
A legal expert in your city or state will have a better idea what your chances of recovering damages would be after reviewing your case.