Traumatic Brain Injuries
Motorcycles account for a small percentage of all vehicles on the road each year, and yet they make up a disproportionate number of injuries and fatalities. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration found that in 2013 motorcycles constituted three percent of all registered vehicles and traveled less than one percent of all vehicle road miles that year. And yet, motorcyclists had a fatality rate six times higher than passenger car occupants, and also suffered from a slightly higher injury rate. Measured per vehicle mile driven, motorcyclists were 26 times more likely to die in a traffic accident than passenger car occupants, and nearly five times more likely to be injured. Motorcycle drivers in 2013 accounted for 14 percent of all traffic deaths, 18 percent of traffic deaths for drivers and passengers combined, four percent of driver injuries on the nation's roads, and four percent of all passenger injuries.
Those injuries include numerous head injuries. While injuries to the legs and feet are the most common non-fatal injuries to motorcyclists in traffic accidents, at 30 percent, head and neck injuries were the second most-common injuries, making up 22 percent of the total non-fatal injuries. Injuries to the chest, shoulder, and back were next, followed by arm and hand injuries, with hip and pelvis injuries rounding out the top five. Riders wearing helmets suffered fewer severe injuries and more less-severe injuries compared to non-helmeted riders and passengers. Even so, among all motorcycle riders, helmeted and unhelmeted, more than one in five non-fatal injuries were to the neck and head. These injuries include many involving what is known as traumatic brain injury.Traumatic Brain Injuries are Serious and Potentially Debilitating
Traumatic brain injuries can happen in any number of ways. All of these ways involve some sort of blow to the head. Traumatic brain injuries result from an injury in which someone is stricken, hit, or suffers an injury that penetrates the skull, leading to damage to the brain. Among other causes, such injuries frequently occur in traffic accidents, sporting incidents, falls and bumps, as well as construction accidents, among other causes.
Traumatic brain injuries can impact the victim in a wide variety of ways. Physical health, as well as cognitive, behavioral, and emotional health, all can be affected. Some of the more common symptoms of a brain injury are:
- Memory loss
- Bleeding from the nose or ears
- Loss of speech
Traumatic brain injuries can have long-lasting impacts, often resulting in difficult and expensive long-term care needs, including an inability to return to work. In extreme cases, this care could be required for a lifetime.Traumatic Brain Injuries are a Common Injury in Motorcycle Accidents
Federal studies show that, even with riders wearing helmets, TBIs are common in traffic accidents involving motorcycles. Even with helmets, head injuries can happen in motorcycle accidents. More than one in five motorcycle accident injuries is a head or neck injury. A 2009 study by the NHTSA looked at a group of people involved in motorcycle accidents, 57 percent of who were wearing helmets, and 43 percent of who were not. In both groups, roughly 40 percent of the motorcyclists either died or required treatment at a hospital. Among non-helmeted riders who required treatment at a hospital, though, nearly seven percent had moderate to severe facial or head injuries, as opposed to just more than five percent of riders who were wearing helmets. Of those injured riders with helmets, 15 percent suffered TBIs. That was in contrast to 21 percent of the injured riders who were not wearing helmets. Nine percent of unhelmeted riders whose injuries required hospital treatment suffered minor to moderate TBIs, while seven percent suffered a severe TBI. For helmeted riders who required hospital treatment, seven percent suffered minor to moderate TBI, while less than five percent suffered severe TBI.Proper Precautions Reduce the Risk of Severe TBI in Motorcycle Accidents
A motorcycle crash causes extreme violence in a contained space. More than 80 percent of traffic accidents involving motorcycles result in either injuries or death for the motorcyclist. Unlike a car, a motorcycle offers no head injury protection for its driver or passengers. In fact, a motorcycle offers no injury protection at all, regardless of what part of the body you’re talking about. Further, there is nothing to prevent the riders from being thrown off the motorcycle in an accident. This is a prime cause of injuries in motorcycle accidents. Not only does the motorcyclist risk injuries in the initial collision, if ejected the rider also is quite likely to be injured again when hitting the ground or any other obstacle in the rider’s path of flight, including walls, trees, signs, other cars, and the like.
Accordingly, motorcyclists have to rely on the safety equipment that they can bring to their journey, such as their helmet, eye protection, and proper clothing to minimize injuries in a crash. Such clothing should be able to withstand sliding along the road for several seconds without wearing through and subjecting the rider to the meat grinder effect of sliding on pavement following ejection from a motorcycle.
Most important, though, is the helmet. The helmet is the only thing standing between a motorcyclist and a head that gets devastated in an accident. A properly designed helmet protects the head from sharp impacts, prevents penetration of the skull by foreign objects, and helps distribute the energy of blows to the head. A properly designed and built helmet can reduce the severity of injuries to the head that a motorcyclist might otherwise suffer in a traffic accident.
Proper helmets are life-savers in motorcycle accidents. They can turn fatalities into injuries, and severe injuries into more minor injuries. The Centers for Disease Control states that helmets saved an estimated 1,859 lives in 2016. Further, the CDC found that:
- If all motorcycle riders wore helmets at all times, more than 800 more lives could have been saved in motorcycle accidents in 2016
- Nationwide, the U.S. could save more than $1 million each year if all motorcycles always rode with a helmet on.
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, and particularly if you have suffered a TBI, you will need assistance to ensure that you receive all of the compensation to which you are entitled. Contact the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation to discuss your case. You can reach us by calling (404) 255-6677 through our online contact form. Our attorneys serve the entire state of Georgia, including Smyrna, Decatur, and Marietta.