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Bicycle Accidents: Vancouver Lawyers on Helmets and Head Injuries

Cyclists are vulnerable to significant injuries or death in the event of a crash. A cyclist’s head will hit a hard surface in half of all bicycle accidents. Vancouver lawyers at Bronson Jones & Company LLP often represent cyclists who have sustained significant head and facial injuries as a result of such crashes. The purpose of this post is to discuss the importance of bicycle helmets to reduce the risk of head and facial injuries.

Potential for head injury as a result of a bicycle accident
Bike helmets are mandatory in British Columbia and a bicyclist can be fined for not wearing one. However, a fine may be the least of a cyclist’s worries when the following statistics about personal injury are considered:

  • Head injuries account for 75% of all deaths from bike injuries. 
  • The human skull can be shattered by an impact of 7 to 10 km/h, and children’s skulls are more vulnerable than those of an adult. 
  • A fall from just 60 cm (about 2’) can cause permanent brain damage; a fall at a speed of 20 km/h can result in death.
  • Cycling mishaps are the leading cause of hospital admissions for head injuries in children. 
  • Survivors with brain injury may suffer seizures, intellectual and memory impairment, and personality changes.
  • The lifetime costs for a head-injured Canadian (including intensive care, long-term hospital costs, lifetime care and support at home) are estimated to be in the range of $1 to 1.5 million.

Now for a more optimistic fact: wearing a bike helmet reduces the risk of head injury by up to 85% and the risk of brain injury by 88%. There is no question that a helmet is the best protection against head and face injuries in a bicycle accident. Vancouver lawyers see first-hand the positive effect that a properly fitted bicycle helmet can have on the severity of an accident victim’s injuries.

How a bicycle helmet prevents injuries
Here is how a helmet protects a bicyclist in the event of an accident:
  1. A helmet absorbs the blow that would otherwise hit the skull (for example, when a cyclist’s head hits another vehicle or the ground); 
  2. A helmet minimizes the violent movement of the brain within the skull; and
  3. A helmet distributes a blow to the head over a larger area, reducing the chance of skull fractures and brain injuries.
Because the front of a properly fitted helmet covers most of the forehead, it can also prevent injuries to the facial bones and skin, particularly the upper part of the face around the eyes.

Choosing and wearing a bicycle helmet
The law in British Columbia requires bicycle helmets to be clearly designated as meeting safety standards (e.g., CSA, ANSI, ASTM or SNELL). Hockey or other types of sports helmets are not safe or legal for riding a bike.
To be effective in preventing brain injury, proper fit and positioning are essential. The helmet should be snug but not too tight. Check out online fit guides or visit a local bike shop for assistance to ensure a proper fit.

Bicycle helmets and personal injury claims
Failure to wear a helmet can have a negative impact on a bicyclist’s claim for personal injury compensation. It may lead to a finding of “contributory negligence” and a consequent reduction in damages. For that to happen, it must be established that the cyclist’s failure to wear a helmet was causative of greater injuries as a result of the collision between the motor vehicle and bicycle. Vancouver accident lawyers at Bronson Jones & Company LLP are well-versed in this area of the law and know how to gather the medical evidence required to defend against an allegation of contributory negligence.

Contact an experienced bicycle accident lawyer: Vancouver and Lower Mainland
Bicyclists who have been injured as a result of a collision need experienced representation. The accident lawyers at Bronson Jones & Company LLP have represented injured plaintiffs for over 30 years and have extensive knowledge of the laws applicable to collisions between a motor vehicle and a bicyclist. Contact us at 1-855-852-5100 for a free consultation about your personal injury case. We have 13 offices in the Lower Mainland, including two offices in Vancouver.

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