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Bicycle Accidents and Traumatic Brain Injuries
In the city of Chicago, you’ll often see people on bikes riding through the streets and on the trails around the lake. While riding a bike is a healthy form of exercise and helps to reduce motor vehicle emissions, there are serious hazards of riding a bike in a large metropolitan area.
In fact, the City of Chicago transportation department conducted a study over five years, from 2005 to 2010 to review the number of bicycle-related accidents that occurred in this area. They found that between those years there were nearly 9,000 bike accidents, and the percentage of accidents rose every year. These are startling statistics, and give reason for all cyclists to make safety a top priority when riding a bike in Chicago.
If you are injured in a bicycle accident and sustain a traumatic brain injury, it is advisable to speak with a lawyer to discuss your situation and to determine your next steps.
Traumatic Brain Injury and Bike Accidents
One of the most common and most dangerous injuries that can result from a bike accident is a head injury, or more specifically, a traumatic brain injury (TBI). A TBI is a serious head injury that can result in temporary or permanent loss of brain function, change in personality, memory loss, and other difficult symptoms.
When a motor vehicle collides with a bicycle rider, even at relatively low speeds, the person on the bicycle is at a greater risk for injury. While a person in a car has the benefit of a protective steel casing, there is nothing separating a cyclist from the impact of the pavement. Even those who wear a helmet are not always completely protected from the possibility of a TBI.
The Dangers of a TBI
One of the largest dangers of a traumatic brain injury is that the long-term effects are somewhat unpredictable. Although doctors are often able to diagnose a TBI based on a set of common symptoms, they have more difficult time determining a recovery time and the full scope of the injury. Some people are able to fully recover from a TBI, while others suffer from lasting symptoms. A few of the common effects of a mild brain injury include:
A severe TBI is associated with a loss of consciousness for 30 minutes or more and is often coupled with trauma to the skull. The effects of a severe TBI can be significantly more serious and have lasting results. Common effects of a severe TBI include:
- Drastic change in personality
- Limited mobility in arms and legs
- Memory loss
- Inability to speak
- Entering a coma or an unresponsive state
- Numerous other permanent cognitive or physical impairments
Even a mild TBI is a serious situation that requires immediate medical care. If you have been injured in a bicycle accident, it is important to seek medical attention without delay.
Protect Yourself from Potential Hazards
When you are riding a bike, it is important to remember that other traffic on the road isn’t always watching for cyclists. It is always in your best interest to ride with caution. Although you can only control your own actions, you can remember to ride defensively. There are several important considerations for staying safe on a bicycle:
Follow the rules of the road - When you are riding your bicycle, there are certain traffic rules that you must follow. Don’t assume that you will always have the right of way just because you are riding a bike. It is important to understand exactly how to behave around other vehicles. Learn the correct hand signals and how to cross lanes of traffic.
Wear the right gear - Before you get on your bike, make sure you are wearing the right helmet and that fits properly. Although some people opt to forgo wearing a helmet, this one piece of protective gear can be the difference between a serious TBI and walking away from an accident unharmed. If you are riding at night, City of Chicago regulations requires a light on the front of a bicycle and a reflector on the back of the bike so you are visible to other vehicles. It is always a good idea to wear brightly colored clothing, regardless of the time of day, so that cars on the road have a better chance of seeing you.
Watch out for other drivers - Even when you are wearing bright clothing and obeying the traffic rules, you can’t control the behavior of other drivers. Distracted driving is a dangerous issue in Chicago, especially during rush hour when people often attempt to multi-task instead of paying full attention to the road.
How an Attorney Can Help After a Bike Accident Injury
Being involved in a bicycle accident that results in a TBI can change your life in an instant. Your time can become consumed with medical treatment, evaluating your injury, and determining a recovery time. There is often little time leftover to deal with the financial and emotional impact of this type of accident. It can be confusing how to initiate a claim to hold another responsible party accountable. If you believe you were not at fault for your injury, an attorney can help you:
- Communicate with your insurance company
- File any necessary paperwork on time
- Collect documentation, like medical records and a police report
- Speak with any witnesses who saw the accident happen
Dealing with a serious injury, especially a TBI, can be incredibly stressful and time-consuming. Working with a personal injury lawyer can help reduce some of the stress around the accident and allow you to focus on your recovery.
Speak With a Chicago Personal Injury Attorney Today
If you have been injured in a bicycle accident that resulted in a TBI, it is essential to understand your rights. At Abels & Annes, P.C., our attorneys understand the devastating aftermath of a serious accident. We are here to help you work through the often-confusing legal process. Call us today at (312) 924-7575 to schedule a free initial consultation. We will discuss the details of your specific case and work to outline the best course of action. You can also contact us online.