The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that more than 80 percent of motorcycle accident victims are injured or die as the result of their injuries, making Nebraska motorcycle riders 26x more likely to die in a motor vehicle accident than passengers in other types of vehicles. Largely due to the fact that the only thing between a motorcyclist and the road is their helmet or other protective riding gear, motorcycle riders account for up to 17 percent of motor vehicle fatalities, even though motorcycles only make up three percent of registered vehicles on the road today.
Motorcycle road rash, fractures, burns, and back, neck and spinal cord injuries are common injuries associated with motorcycle-related crashes. The most serious outcomes involve head injuries, including Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Motorcyclists who suffer from a TBI make up 54 percent of all motorcycle fatalities.
Brain injuries are the leading cause of death and disability, even more so than spinal cord injuries. They often involve long hospital stays, rehabilitation services, or permanent disability. TBIs may take months or years to heal, and some patients face life-long effects from their injuries. The chances of a motor vehicle accident resulting in a head injury is significantly higher for motorcyclists than for those driving a car or other enclosed vehicle.
Head injuries are often life-changing and may lead to a loss of current employment, personal relationships and financial strain as victims and their families struggle to provide for their loved one’s needs. If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle accident due to another driver’s negligence, contact the personal injury team at Berry Law and pursue the financial relief you deserve.
Causes of Motorcycle-Related Brain Injuries
Because motorcycle riders lack the protection offered by a car’s hard shell and safety restraints, they are thrown from their vehicle during an accident. These accidents typically occur when a rider is either struck by another vehicle or experience impact with the road or another stationary object like a sign, tree, or guardrail.
Motorcycle brain injury is often caused by blunt force trauma to the head or a sudden deceleration when the rider’s body hits the road after being thrown off of his or her vehicle. This deceleration causes the brain to ricochet off of the inside of the skull leading to severe bruising of the brain.
Twenty-five percent of brain injury-related hospital admissions are due to motor vehicle accidents, making traffic accidents the No. 1 cause of TBI-related hospitalization, emergency department visits and death in Americans between 15 and 34 years of age.
Brain injuries often involve a diagnosis of intercranial injury, or injury that occurs inside of the cranial cavity. They may also include a skull fracture, but a fracture is not always involved in these types of injuries. It’s also possible for an accident victim to suffer a skull fracture without any intracranial involvement.
Diagnosis of brain injury is typically classified by open-head injuries and closed-head injuries. Open-head injuries involve damage to the skin or exterior tissue and bone of the head, while there may be no external signs in closed-head injuries. Closed-head injuries are often more difficult to diagnose because they are not immediately evident. This can lead to silent damage when built-up fluid trapped inside of the skull puts pressure on the brain, leading to swelling or clots.
Signs of Traumatic Brain Injury include confusion, disorientation, and cognitive, physical, or behavior changes, which may or may not be permanent. In severe cases, a TBI can result in a days-or-weeks-long coma. Survivors of brain injuries may experience a loss of basic functions, depression, or other mental and cognitive impairments.
Types of Brain Injuries
Injuries to the brain from motorcycle accidents can be mild, moderate, or severe in nature. Mild head injuries may only require rest and medication. In more severe cases, surgery, cognitive rehabilitation, and physical therapy may be necessary and can last for months or years. Even then, a patient may never return to his or her previous level of function.
Concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that may result in a brief loss of consciousness that lasts less than an hour. A patient diagnosed with a concussion may also not lose consciousness at all. If a concussion is not allowed to heal properly, it can lead to long-term effects or a condition known as post-concussion syndrome.
Diffuse Axonal Injuries occur when the connecting nerve fibers in the brain tear as it moves violently around inside of the skull upon impact. The damage caused by diffuse axonal injuries can be difficult to diagnose because the nerve fibers involved are so small. However, this type of brain injury can cause serious side effects just the same.
Coup-Countrecoup Injuries are a result of a blow to the head that occurs with enough force or change in momentum to cause the brain to strike the inside of the skull on the opposite side of the head from the initial point of impact. These injuries are very common when a rider’s head strikes pavement at a high rate of speed.
Hematoma, also known as bleeding in the brain, can cause blood clots to develop that then become trapped inside of the skull and brain tissue. Intracranial hematoma bleeding can result in a lack of blood reaching parts of the brain and may lead to a stroke or death if blood clots are left untreated.
Symptoms of possible hematoma include face, arm, or leg weakness, speech and vision impairments, headaches, or dizziness. It’s critical that anyone experiencing such symptoms following a blow to the head from a motorcycle accident seek immediate medical attention. Hematomas have a high response rate to treatment if they are caught early.
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A break or crack in the cranial bones that sometimes occurs with head trauma, skull fractures may be simple or linear, appearing as a thin line or crack on an x-ray. They may not even involve damage to the skin or exterior tissues of the head and don’t result in splintering or visible depression of the skull.
Compound fractures of the skull appear with accompanying damage to the skin and exterior tissues with splintering of the bone. Depressed fractures are the result of crush injury and cause the bone to become depressed inward toward the brain.
In certain cases, it can take up to 24 hours to develop symptoms of a skull fracture. A delay in treatment can cause further damage to the brain. Since the only way to know for sure if your skull has been fractured following a blow to the head is through diagnostic imaging, see a medical professional immediately.
Prevention of Motorcycle-Related Brain Injuries
The consistent use of motorcycle helmets is an effective way to prevent crash-related fatalities in motorcycle crashes. Helmets also lower the rate of head injuries in the event of a crash and are the No. 1 way to lessen the extent of head injuries when they do occur.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) report that riders without a helmet who are involved in a police-reported crash are more than twice as likely to be hospitalized for a head injury than those wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. Further, riders who weren’t wearing a helmet were more likely to suffer skull fractures or penetration of the cranial cavity.
While helmets can’t prevent every type of brain injury in a motorcycle accident, they act to absorb most of the impact energy in a crash and minimize the blunt force trauma to the skull. Data from NHTSA suggests that not wearing a helmet doubles the risk of severe head injury in motorcycle-related wrecks
Consequences & Liability
Brain injuries are among the most expensive type of injuries resulting from motor vehicle accidents. Some traumatic train injuries can leave an individual dependent on costly long-term nursing care. The cost of life-long medical treatment and therapy can add up into the tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars over a lifetime, depending on the age of the victim and the severity of his or her injuries. The inability to return to a previous employment position can further add to the financial strain on victims and their families.
Don’t rely on insurance companies to do the right thing and fairly compensate you for your injuries. It benefits these companies to pay out as little in settlements as possible, and they may try to offer a quick settlement in the hopes that a victim will take it, and the company can avoid a future costly lawsuit.
Motorcycle accident injury law suits often end in large settlements for victims with long-lasting effects from TBI or other brain-related injuries when the other party involved is found to be at fault for the accident. Hire a Nebraska personal injury attorney today. They can assess your claim, not only for existing expenses, but for future costs that you or your family will face for your care and treatment going forward. Don’t allow someone else’s negligence to go unchallenged. While a financial settlement can’t restore the physical health that’s been taken from you, it can provide financial security and peace of mind. Call today to get started on pursuing this justice.