Approximately 48,000 people were injured in bicycle accidents with motor vehicles in 2011, reports the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Neck injuries are among the common injuries cyclists sustain, and can range from relatively mild strains to severe cervical damage. Even if the apparent severity of the injury is mild, it’s important to seek medical attention for an assessment after a bicycle accident.
Types of Neck Injuries
In a bicycle accident, all the body’s twisting, torqueing, and jolting can lead to soft tissue injuries of the neck. The impact of being thrown from the bike and colliding with the ground, a vehicle, or another object can cause damage to the muscles, tissues, and ligaments of the neck, or worse – the spine and spinal cord.
Types of neck trauma bicyclists may sustain include:
- neck strains (injuries to the neck muscles or tendons);
- neck sprains (injuries to the neck ligaments);
- broken cervical bones; and
- spinal cord damage.
The Importance of Bike Helmet Design
One of the factors that might increase the risk of neck injury in a bicycle accident is the use of soft-shell helmets. Wearing a no-shell or soft-shell helmet potentially increases the risk of neck injury for the rider in involved in a wreck, according to a 1995 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report.
This is because the helmet’s soft shell tends to drag on hard, rough surfaces. The drag causes the cyclist’s head to decelerate, while the body will continue to move forward.
Riders should look for a hard-shell bicycle helmet that meets the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) standards. The CPSC recommends different helmets for different types of activities. You can visit their website for specific regulations and recommendations.
Un-helmeted riders are 14.3 times more likely to be killed in a bike wreck than helmeted riders, according to a 1997 study appearing in the journal Injury Prevention.
The Resounding Impact of Serious Injury
When a rider is involved in a serious collision, such as with a vehicle, catastrophic injuries are likely. Nearly 700 cyclists died in 2011 in traffic accidents, according to NHTSA.
If the victim sustains major spinal cord damage in the neck region, it might result in permanent paralysis. This means a lifetime of treatment, permanent disability, and ongoing health complications.
Victims of neck trauma rarely experience no change to their lives. They will be unable to work for some time, have to deal with extensive medical treatments, and in catastrophic circumstances, be forced to alter their homes to accommodate the injury. Their family relationships will also likely feel the impact; they and loved ones might require counseling in order to cope.
Furthermore, serious injuries can spell financial ruin for a victim and his or her family. Astronomical medical bills, reduced income, and the cost of hiring help around the house can quickly cause a family to require public assistance or even file for bankruptcy. Fortunately, if another driver is to blame for an accident, victims can pursue damages in a claim or lawsuit.
Consult a Firm Familiar with Bicycle Accidents
Bicycle accident victims in or near Denver are welcomed to call the law office of D.J. Banovitz to determine if they have a form of legal recourse for collecting compensation. Contact us today to set up your no-obligation consultation: 303-300-5060.