Can I Still Recover for a TBI If I was Not Wearing a Bicycle Helmet?
A traumatic brain injury or TBI is a form of injury that arises when extra force or pressure is applied to the brain due to a bump, blow, jolt, or penetration of the head which in turn affects the normal functioning of the brain.1 This type of traumatic brain injury can be caused by an array of mechanisms such as an open head injury, closed head injury, deceleration injury, chemical or toxin exposure, hypoxia, tumor, infection, or stroke.2 According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, traumatic brain injuries have significant impact as they account for 30% of all injury deaths which translates to nearly 140 deaths per day. Traumatic brain injuries can occur for a number of reasons including car accidents, firearms, and falls.3 However, any form of traumatic impact to the head, including that sustained during a bicycle accident, can result in a TBI.
Bicycle Accidents: Helmets and Head Injuries
Cycling or biking is a popular activity in the United States, not only as a leisure activity, but as a source of transportation. The CDC reports that out of the millions of Americans who ride bicycles only half of them actually wear a helmet which places a cyclist at a significantly greater risk of suffering from a head injury.4 Bicycle-accident related injuries disproportionately affect children and adolescents under the age of 20.5 In a study conducted five years ago by the CDC, in a single year 800 bicyclists were killed and 515,000 were injured, of which 26,000 were traumatic brain injuries.6 Regardless of the fact that wearing safety gear is likely to mediate the risk of serious injury during a bicycle accident, the absence of a helmet or other safety equipment will not bar recovery.
Recovery in a Biking Accident
In the state of Missouri, there is no law that requires or mandates that cyclists wear a helmet. Though the state is silent on the matter of bicycle helmet use, many local ordinances or laws supplement state law by requiring helmets for minors.7 Since there is no legal duty to wear a helmet, any injuries sustained during a bicycle accident which are caused by a negligent party, entitle the victim to financial recovery. Also, this means that any evidence that a cyclist did not use a helmet is not admissible to show negligence. However, even though cyclists are entitled to the same rights as all other motorists, the comparative negligence doctrine can still apply if a cyclist is engaging in behaviors such as biking while intoxicated, driving against traffic signals, or riding in unsafe manners such as contrary to the flow of traffic or not properly yielding the right of way. Each of these factors will reduce damages based on the percentage of fault the bicyclist possessed in causing the accident, but any remaining damages based on the percentage of fault held by the defendant, including compensation for medical bills, medication, surgeries, therapy, or other costs associated with a TBI are recoverable.
Contact an Experienced St. Louis Personal Injury Attorney for a Free Consultation
If you have suffered a TBI during a bicycle wreck, it is important to discuss the circumstances of your injury with an experienced personal injury attorney who can help to protect your legal rights and interests. To contact a personal injury attorney for a free consultation please feel free to call the The Bruning Law Firm trial attorneys at 314-735-8100.