How Common are Traumatic Brain Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents?
The Motorcycle Industry Council says there are more motorcycles in the United States today. In the latest data for 2018, over 10.2 million U.S. households had a bike.
Motorcycles are part of American culture and consciences.
What about safety? The motorcycle culture prizes maneuverability, speed, and ambient noise. Sometimes, safety is not a consideration, increasing the risk for motorcycle accidents.
A motorcyclist and rider can wear steel-toed boots and leather outer clothes. Only a safety helmet protects them from head injuries. In 2020, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found the following:
- In states requiring helmet wearing, compliance was 99 percent.
- In states without the requirement, helmet wearing was at 71 percent.
- The helmets worn were 89 percent compliant with federal safety regulations in states requiring them but only 56 percent in the other states.
The danger for a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a motorcycle accident is high to begin with. The risk increases dramatically in no-helmet states. Of every 100 deaths, 37 of these victims would have survived with helmet wearing.
Motorcycles lack the obvious safety features of other vehicles. Even with a safety-approved helmet, the risk of a TBI is significant. A TBI can have delayed or less obvious symptoms. TBI is a silent epidemic.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that there are approximately 1.7 million people suffering from a TBI yearly and over 50,000 fatalities.
The CDC says that motor vehicle traffic caused 17.3 percent of all TBI cases and 31.8 percent of TBI deaths. This is a significant public health problem.
Injuries are not the only concern. In the United States, TBI costs over $48 billion a year. For motorcycle incidents, it is $13 billion. The cost of care for a TBI can be up to $4 million in a victim’s lifetime.
In the event of a motorcycle accident, TBI is a serious medical problem that only a qualified and experienced lawyer can decipher to obtain a full recovery for the victim.
Understanding a TBI Diagnosis
As a silent epidemic, a TBI diagnosis is complicated.
A TBI is a severe head injury in which the brain swells, increasing pressure within the skull. Generally, the pressure exerted on the brain can have severe consequences.
Because there are three degrees of a TBI, accident victims show note the following signs:
- Loss of consciousness
- Motor deficits, including paralysis, numbness, impaired or weakened abilities
- Speech and language difficulties such as slurred speech, inability to read or understand speech
- Cognitive losses, including memory loss, forgetfulness, difficulty with abstract thoughts
- Emotional issues such as mood swings, anxiety, depression, suicidal thought, and an uncontrolled temper
- Inability to function normally; could include insomnia, fatigue, persistent headaches, social isolation, and wrong social cues
Victims should not wait to see a doctor if any of these signs appear later.
Diagnosis of a TBI is by physical examination with scoring on the Glasgow Coma Scale, where the higher the score, the less severe the TBI. A concussion is a mild TBI. The moderate and severe categories involve the duration of loss of consciousness.
Then tests may be needed. To diagnose the patient’s condition, the doctor will use any of these methods:
- A computed tomography (CT) scan using different X-rays to look for fractures, internal bleeding, blood clots, contusions, or swelling.
- A magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan, which uses radio waves and magnets to create a view of the brain.
- If there is tissue swelling with more pressure on the skull, doctors can insert a probe into the skull; this is called an intracranial pressure monitor.
A TBI Diagnosis and a Patient’s Lifestyle
In the best-case scenario, recovery and return to normalcy involve an extensive process requiring different types of medical care.
- Medical costs. These include hospitalization, specialists, and tests. Not all insurance policies offer complete coverage. Out-of-pocket costs can be life changing.
- Rehabilitation costs. Therapeutic treatments include physical therapy, occupational therapy, and psychological intervention. There are also costs for assistive devices. Family and friends may have to see a therapist to deal with the extended effects of a TBI.
- Income loss. TBI victims may not return to a pre-accident condition and may not be able to return to their work.
- Care costs. Family and friends may have to reduce their workload to care for the patient at home. A paid caregiver may be introduced also.
- Intangible costs. These costs including fraying relationships because of care responsibilities and watching someone with a TBI undergo a personality change.
These and other costs are multiplied and may not occur at once or even in any predictable pattern. There is no certainty that the patient will follow a given progression of improvement or reach plateaus of success.
How can a Lawyer Help?
Patients with TBI need a high level of care. That care comes with significant cost. Medical personnel try to restore the patient and the family circle. Lawyers look to preserve the rights of the patient and immediate family. Insurance coverage questions involving hospitalization and doctors’ bills may need resolution. Lawyers also are responsible to assess the facts of the accident and the resulting dimension of the injury, including any need for medical experts, to determine if a monetary recovery is due the victim.
When negotiations and settlements to recover damages for non-covered medical and therapeutic costs, for lost incomes, and for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering cannot result in an appropriate disposition approved by client and lawyer, only a lawsuit can resolve the impasse.
Selecting the best qualified and most committed lawyer to represent a TBI victim and their family is an important step. The lawyer may not seem as important as the treating doctors, but their jobs are significantly different.
There is only a narrow window of time for the lawyer to act. It is imperative to contact a lawyer as early as practicable. If the TBI injury symptoms are delayed, the law allows additional time to commence the process. However, the victim and family should not wait. These are detailed cases to prepare, and time will not stand still.
New Jersey Motorcycle Accident Lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr Advocate for Victims of Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents can cause traumatic brain injury (TBI), which may not be diagnosed right after an accident. If you or your loved one has suffered a TBI, let the New Jersey motorcycle accident lawyers at the Law Offices of Harold J. Gerr help you. We will thoroughly investigate the accident to ensure that you receive the compensation you deserve. Call us today at 877-249-4600 or 732-537-8570 or contact us online for a free consultation. Located in Highland Park, New Jersey, we serve clients in New Brunswick, Somerset, Piscataway, Edison, South River, Sayreville, Metuchen, East Brunswick, South Plainfield, Fords, Middlesex, Old Bridge, Iselin, Bound Brook, Perth Amboy, Colonia, Elizabeth, and Newark.