Motorcycle accidents cause some of the worst injuries on the road. Because motorcycles don't have the enclosed cab of a passenger vehicle, it is more likely that a motorcycle accident victim will sustain serious force in a collision or be thrown from the bike altogether. These factors increase the severity of injuries sustained in a motorcycle collision, with devastating consequences.
A West Palm Beach motorcycle accident attorney can help passengers seek compensation for their significant medical bills, rehabilitative expenses, lost wages and other financial losses which were caused by a motorcycle accident. We may also be successful in recovering damages for intangible losses, such as physical pain and suffering, loss of enjoyment and loss of consortium.
The Facts About Motorcycle Accidents and Traumatic Brain Injuries
Head trauma is one of the most serious motorcycle injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, motor vehicle accidents were the second-leading cause of traumatic brain injuries in the United States between 1997 and 2007. The number of deaths related to traumatic brain injuries decreased significantly during this period for vehicle occupants, pedestrians and bicyclists. But motorcycle riders saw a 133.1 percent increase in the number of deaths from traumatic brain injuries in the same time period.
Surprisingly, the odds are worse for motorcycle passengers than riders. Reuters reports on findings published by the Journal of the American Medical Association. Researchers found that nearly 67 percent of riders wore a helmet, but only 57.5 percent of passengers did so. This translated to 40 percent of passengers sustaining a traumatic brain injury in a motorcycle accident, while only 36 percent of riders did. Yet even among injury victims wearing helmets, passengers fared worse than riders. Thirty-six percent of helmeted passengers sustained traumatic brain injuries compared with only 31 percent of helmeted rider.
Why do passengers fare worse than riders in motorcycle accidents? Reuters spoke with medical researchers at Indiana University, who posited that passengers are more likely than riders to be ejected from a motorcycle in an accident. In such a case, the impact of an ejection collision may be too powerful for a helmet to effectively prevent a brain injury. Riders may also have the advantage of an earlier warning about a collision. Being in a position to see obstacles in the road, riders can tighten their grip and position themselves defensively. Many passengers may not have these defensive advantages.
How Can Passengers Reduce Their Risk of Sustaining a Brain Injury in a Motorcycle Accident?
The important takeaway point from this study, according to researchers, is that helmet use significantly reduces head and neck injuries. This finding has been corroborated by multiple studies over several decades of investigation. Helmet use is not just a wise safety precaution; it is also a requirement of Florida law. Section 316.211 of the Florida Statutes requires riders and passengers on motorcycles to wear both protective headgear and eye protection. The statute creates an interesting exception for riders or passengers who carry at least $10,000 in medical payments coverage for injuries sustained in an accident. Few states recognize such a stark exemption based upon the staggering costs of motorcycle accident head injuries.
Contact a West Palm Beach motorcycle accident attorney to learn more about your legal rights after a motorcycle accident.