As a personal injury lawyer who helps injured motorcyclists recover compensation from careless drivers, I see far too many motorcycle accident brain injuries and the devastating effects. Serious head injuries are usually the most catastrophic results of a negligent driver's collision with a motorcycle. Based on my years of experience, here are my recommendations for avoiding, minimizing, and coping with traumatic brain injuries.
Wear a helmet
Head injuries are the leading cause of death in motorcycle accidents. Helmets reduce the risk of fatality in a motorcycle accident by almost one-third. They also reduce the risk of sustaining a traumatic brain injury.
Helmets do not prevent every brain injury. However, data collected by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration tells us that motorcyclists who are not wearing a helmet are three times more likely to experience a brain injury during an accident than motorcyclists who are wearing a helmet.
California law requires motorcyclists to wear helmets. Some riders prefer not to wear a helmet. The choice is yours to make. Keep in mind that if you experience a preventable brain injury, you hurt everyone who depends on you, not just yourself.
Also keep in mind that juries are not generous to motorcyclists who disregard the helmet law. The failure to wear a helmet not only puts your life at risk, it jeopardizes your ability to recover full compensation if you are injured due to another driver's negligence.
Be aware of TBI symptoms
If you lost consciousness after a motorcycle accident, you suffered from a traumatic brain injury. You need to see a neurologist.
If you hit your head during a motorcycle accident but did not lose consciousness, you may have suffered from a brain injury. Report any of these symptoms to a doctor as soon as you experience them:
- Blurred vision
- Ringing in your ears
- Sensitivity to light
It is imperative that you see a doctor if you begin to develop a headache. When the brain strikes the skull during a concussion, a brain hemorrhage (bleeding in the brain) may occur. You may also experience brain swelling that increases pressure inside the skull. Both of those conditions are often accompanied by a headache. Both can be life-threatening. Since death from a motorcycle accident can result quickly, any delay in seeing a doctor puts your life at risk.
When in doubt, visit a neurologist
If you sustained a concussion in a motorcycle accident, your family doctor might not be the best person to evaluate your condition. Ask for a referral to a neurologist who has experience with head injuries. If you lost consciousness during your accident, an examination by a neurologist is essential.
The existence of a brain injury is not always obvious, even to doctors. A number of “checklists” help doctors diagnose a brain injury, but more sophisticated tests, including an EEG, an MRI, a CAT scan, and other brain scans may be necessary to confirm or rule out the possibility of a traumatic brain injury.
The tests are not infallible. They all rely on a physician's interpretation of test results. It is possible to have a traumatic brain injury that does not produce symptoms or observable test results for days or weeks. That is why careful neurologists tell their patients to return for another evaluation if they experience headaches, confusion, or other symptoms of a traumatic brain injury.
Avoid riding and contact sports until your injury has healed
If you sustain a traumatic brain injury during a motorcycle accident, the odds are good that the injury will heal. While some serious injuries cause a permanent brain impairment, most people recover from brain injuries over time.
If you experience a second brain injury before the first injury has healed, however, the odds are no longer in your favor. It is much more likely that the second injury will cause permanent or long-term brain damage.
To avoid that risk, you should minimize any activity that might lead to another concussion until your doctor assures you that your brain injury has fully healed. Avoid contact sports. Weigh the risks of riding your motorcycle, keeping in mind that another fall from your bike could affect you for the rest of your life. It may be best to find another mode of transportation during the weeks or months it takes for your brain injury to heal completely.
Work closely with your motorcycle head injury lawyer
Never settle your case until you are confident that you have fully healed or reached a healing plateau. The decision about settling should only be made in consultation with your attorney after complete information is available from your physician.
Traumatic brain injuries are complicated. They are not as obvious as broken bones. A personal injury lawyer who has no experience with motorcycle accidents and brain injuries will not be well positioned to help you maximize your recovery. To be sure that you obtain the compensation you deserve, consult with an experienced motorcycle accident injury attorney who represents clients with traumatic brain injuries.