Head injuries are a serious risk for motorcycle riders, especially if the motorcyclist does not have a helmet on. Many motorcycle riders are thrown from their bikes due to the force of a crash, and when a person hits the ground at a high rate of speed, there is a significant likelihood of head injury, even with a helmet on. Head injuries can be very costly to treat and can cause permanent damage, so motorcyclists need to know what their rights are in the event of a head injury.
The Dangers of Head Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents
National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) conducted a comprehensive review of motorcycle accident injuries. In the data set reviewed by NHTSA, 57 percent of motorcycle riders had helmets on at the time of the accident. For both helmeted and non-helmeted motorcyclists, around 40 percent were treated at a hospital for injuries or died as a result of the accident.
Of the motorists who were involved in collisions, 6.6 percent of motorcycle riders with no helmet and 5.1 percent of motorcyclists with a helmet experienced a facial or head injury classified as being moderate to severe. Moderate to severe is officially defined as having a score on the Maximum Abbreviated Injury Severity Scale of level 2 or greater.
Motorcyclists who visited hospitals had relatively high rates of traumatic brain injury (TBI). In total, 21 percent of motorcyclists treated in the hospital who had no helmet on at the time of an accident suffered a TBI, compared with 15 percent of motorcyclists who had helmets on. This means a substantial number of motorcycle riders who wear a helmet will sustain traumatic brain injury anyway. In fact, 4.7 percent of motorcyclists treated in the hospital for head injuries sustained injuries classified as severe, compared with the roughly seven percent of motorcyclists with no helmet who had severe head injury.
Motorcyclists hospitalized for severe head injuries were significantly less likely to be treated and discharged from the hospital to return home, in comparison with those who did not have head injuries. In total, 56 percent of motorists treated for head injuries survived their injuries and were discharged to go home, as compared with more than 85 percent of motorcycle riders who were discharged home after receiving treatment for injuries other than head injuries.
Motorcyclists admitted with TBIs were more likely to be transferred to long-term care facilities or to rehab centers. They were also more likely not to survive. TBI-sufferers accounted for 54 percent of motorcycle riders who were admitted to the hospital but didn't survive.
With or without a helmet, sustaining head injuries in a motorcycle accident is very expensive. A motorcyclist who was discharged from a hospital after a head injury faced an average bill of $31,979. These types of serious injuries can end up costing millions in lifetime care and medical expenses.