Head injuries are some of motorcycle accidents’ most common and serious injuries. In fact, motorcyclists who suffered a brain injury from a motorcycle accident accounted for 54% of admitted riders who died.
With nearly 600,000 motorcycle registrations, Florida motorcyclists are at an even higher risk of experiencing a motorcycle accident. In 2020, there were 8,037 motorcycle crashes in Florida, according to Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV), with 517 of those resulting in a fatality. A State Highway Safety Offices report shows that Florida had the highest number of fatal motorcycle accidents in the country in 2016 and 2017, leading all fifty states with 574.
If you live in Florida, it is important for you to make sure you are riding your motorcycle safely. Wearing a motorcycle helmet is the best way to protect yourself from suffering a serious head injury in the event of an accident.
However, motorcycle helmets and other safety gear will not always be enough to prevent a head injury from occurring. If you have been involved in a motorcycle accident, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible so that your injuries can be treated and you can begin the road to recovery.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines a TBI as “a disruption in the brain’s normal function that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.” A TBI can range from mild (also called concussions) to severe. TBIs are often caused by:
- A penetrating injury causing damage to blood vessels in the brain
- Blunt blows to the skull that cause fragments of the skull to damage brain tissue
Motorcycle riders have significantly less protection from head injuries than people in other types of motor vehicle accidents. This is one of the reasons why TBIs are so common in motorcycle accidents.
Symptoms of a Traumatic Brain Injury
The symptoms of a TBI can range from mild to severe, and they may not always be immediately apparent. If you have suffered a blow to the head in a motorcycle crash, it is important to keep an eye out for the following symptoms:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Fatigue or drowsiness
- Blurry vision
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Changes in mood or behavior
- Memory problems or difficulty concentrating
Symptoms of mild brain injuries may include:
- Ringing in the ears
- Bad taste in the mouth
- A change in sleep patterns
Symptoms of more serious brain injuries may include:
- Dilated pupils
- Clear fluids draining from the nose or ears
- Weakness or numbness in fingers and toes
If you experience any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible. A TBI can majorly impact your life, and the sooner it is treated, the better.
Common Types of Traumatic Brain Injuries
According to a study from Syracuse University, motorcycle head injuries are found in about 37% of all fatal motorcycle crashes. National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) data states that individuals who ride motorcycles are 26 times more likely to be killed in an accident than those who ride in a car on a per-mile-traveled basis.
The most common types of TBIs that occur in motorcycle accidents are:
- Contusions: A contusion is a bruise on the brain. It occurs when a blow to the head damages the brain tissue.
- Coup-Contrecoup Injuries: A coup injury occurs when the head hits an object and the brain slams into the opposite side of the skull. A contrecoup injury happens when the brain bounces around inside the skull and strikes both sides.
- Diffuse Axonal Injuries: A diffuse axonal injury (DAI) occurs when the brain is damaged by shaking or rotation. This type of injury can cause widespread damage to the brain.
- Skull Fractures: A skull fracture is a break in the bone that forms the skull. Skull fractures can occur when the head hits an object or when a piece of the skull is driven into the brain.
- Concussions: A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury caused by a blow to the head. Concussions can cause changes in brain function, but they usually do not cause long-term damage.
The first 12 hours after a motorcycle accident are critical. If you or someone you know has been involved in a motorcycle accident, it is important to seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Treatment for Traumatic Brain Injuries
The treatment for a TBI will vary depending on the severity of the injury.
Many brain injury victims that suffer from mild TBIs may be treated with:
- Pain medication
- Ice or heat therapy
Moderate to severe TBIs may require:
- Surgery to remove blood clots or damaged tissue
- Intensive care
- Physical therapy and rehabilitation
Possible Complications of a Motorcycle Accident Brain Injury
Recovering from a TBI can often take months or even years. Some people may never fully recover from their injuries. The long-term effects of a TBI can include:
Chronic pain is defined as pain that lasts for more than 12 weeks. It can be caused by damage to the nervous system or by the formation of scar tissue. Chronic pain can have a major impact on your quality of life. It can make it difficult to do everyday activities, such as going to work or taking care of your family.
Cognitive issues are problems with thinking, memory, and concentration. They can be caused by damage to the brain and cause a decline in cognitive function.
Depression is a common psychological disorder caused by physical or emotional trauma. It can make it difficult to enjoy activities that you used to enjoy and can lead to suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
Memory loss is often one of the most feared complications of a TBI. It can be caused by damage to the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for forming new memories.
Neurological disorders are conditions that affect the nervous system. They can be caused by damage to the brain or spinal cord. Neurological disorders can cause various symptoms, including paralysis, muscle weakness, and problems with balance and coordination.
The Importance of Motorcycle Helmets
While wearing a helmet does not completely protect you from suffering a TBI, they are estimated to be about 37% effective in preventing fatal injuries to motorcycle operators and 41% effective for motorcycle passengers.
In states with mandatory motorcycle helmet laws, there is an estimated 16% decrease in motorcycle fatalities.
Motorcycle Helmet Laws in Florida
In 2000, Florida repealed its universal helmet law for motorcycle riders over 21. Current Florida motorcycle helmet laws require riders under 21 to wear a helmet. If you are over 21, you do not have to wear a helmet. However, if you choose to ride a motorcycle unhelmeted, you must be covered by a $10,000 medical insurance policy to cover any injuries resulting from a crash.
Contact a Motorcycle Accident Attorney
The motorcycle accident lawyers at the Fran Haasch Law Group have a proven record of standing up for injured motorcycle accident victims. We are proud to represent bikers throughout the Greater Tampa Bay Region, including Clearwater, Tampa, Palm Harbor, St. Petersburg, and beyond.
If you’ve suffered injuries from a collision that was someone else’s fault in Tampa Bay and its surrounding areas, you deserve to have your medical expenses and personal losses compensated. We are on your side and don’t collect a dime unless you receive compensation for your claim. Our injury lawyers will gladly provide you with a free case review and answer any questions about your case.