Accidents involving bicycles, motorcycles, and scooters are some of the common ways a person can suffer a traumatic brain injury (also known as TBI). The Centers for Disease Control defines traumatic brain injury as “a disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or penetrating head injury.”
If you or someone you love has been involved in an accident and suffered a brain injury, contact Law Offices Cytryn & Velazquez, P.A., for a free consultation. For nearly 40 years, our office has represented clients who have suffered serious brain injuries as a result of the negligence of others. Our office represents clients who have suffered traumatic brain injuries in accidents that occurred in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach, or anywhere else in Florida.
What Are the Effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury?
A few of the potentially debilitating effects of a TBI include:
- Loss of consciousness (which could be temporary or long-term) and coma
- Persistent nausea or vomiting
- Persistent headaches, including migraines
- Repeated and uncontrolled seizures
- Slurred or incomprehensible speech
- Significant loss of bodily coordination, balance, and basic functioning
- Remaining in a persistent vegetative state
The effects of a TBI can last anywhere from a few days up to a person’s entire life. Sadly, many people will suffer a severe traumatic brain injury as a result of an accident and never fully recover normal functioning. This means that a person may experience permanent, irreversible changes to his or her memory, thought processing, vision, hearing, physical movement, emotional responses, mood, and personality. The long-term effects of a severe TBI can be life altering and, in some serious cases, absolutely devastating.
What is Mild Traumatic Brain Injury?
The difference between a mild traumatic brain injury and a more severe traumatic brain injury is largely a matter of degrees. Put simply, a mild traumatic brain injury will result in less levels of brain damage than a more severe traumatic brain injury. A traumatic brain injury will generally be considered “mild” where a person suffers a brief loss of consciousness or experiences changed mental functioning such as confusion or disorientation for a period of less than 30 minutes. The majority of TBIs are comparatively mild; many times these mild brain injuries are what we commonly refer to as “concussions.”
After the initial period of unconsciousness or of confusion or disorientation, a person may suffer with lingering cognitive difficulties such as:
- Mood swings
- Trouble paying attention
- Memory loss
- Vision problems, including blurred vision
- Loss of balance
- Hearing problems, such as a constant ringing in the ears
Unfortunately, these lingering cognitive difficulties can sometimes last anywhere from a few days up to a year (and occasionally even longer).
In some instances, you may not even experience any symptoms immediately after the traumatic event occurs. It isn’t unusual for a person to suffer a mild TBI but appear completely normal right after the trauma, and not start experiencing symptoms until days or even weeks after the event. A person might seem perfectly fine after an accident, but then start to vary significantly deteriorate in the following days or weeks.
One of the issues we have seen multiple times with mild TBI is the failure of medical providers to make an accurate diagnosis of the injury. For example, a person might get into an accident and suffer a mild diffuse axonal injury (when the brain very quickly shifts inside your skull during the accident) which results in very tiny changes to multiple parts of the brain. The problem is that the changes are so tiny that they may not necessarily show-up on a CT scan or MRI. Or if the changes are perceptible on the scans, a physician reading the scans may simply miss them because the changes are so miniscule.
One of the frustrating things about mild traumatic brain injury is that a person might be experiencing any number of the symptoms described above, but when you look at the MRI or CT scans, everything looks normal. Unfortunately, mild TBI is often overlooked by medical providers specifically because it doesn’t show-up (or doesn’t show-up well) on these scans. Despite that, the effects of mild TBI can still be devastating and long-lasting for a person suffering from the traumatic injury.
Helmets Are an Effective Way to Protect Against a Traumatic Brain Injury
Wearing a properly designed and properly fitting helmet is one way to significantly reduce the risk of brain injury for a person involved in a bike, motorcycle, or scooter accident.
For example, wearing a helmet while riding a bicycle reduces the risk of severe traumatic brain injury by half when riders suffer a head injury, according to a study in the American Journal of Surgery. Riders wearing helmets are less likely to die from their injuries from a bicycle accident, and less likely to break bones in their face. According to that same study, bicyclists wearing helmets had a 31 percent lesser chance of suffering facial fractures during an bike accident as compared to those not wearing helmets.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), traumatic brain injury is a leading cause of death for persons involved in motorcycle crashes. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has stated that wearing a helmet while riding a motorcycle reduces the risk of death by 37% and reduces the risk of head injury by 69%.
Unfortunately, not everybody wears a helmet when riding a bike, motorcycle, or scooter. In those cases, a person is exposed to an increased risk of seriously injury. Nonetheless, even if you weren’t wearing a helmet, if you suffered a brain injury as a result of a collision that was caused by somebody else’s negligence, you still may be entitled to compensation for your injuries. Our office has handled a number of cases where clients have been injured while riding a bicycle, motorcycle, or scooter without a helmet.
In one of those cases, our client was riding as a passenger on a scooter in Fort Lauderdale. The defendant was driving a car on the same street in the center lane, and abruptly turned into our client’s lane and caused a collision. Our client was not wearing a helmet and suffered permanent brain injury as a result of the collision.
Our office filed a negligence suit against the driver of the car. The jury determined that our client’s damages amounted to $11,802,488.80 (which was reduced by our client’s percentage of fault, which the jury determined to be 67%). (Our office appealed the verdict and argued that the trial court erred in excluding certain evidence of the defendant's negligence. The appellate court agreed with us and granted a new trial.) Lenhart v. Basora, 100 So. 3d 1177 (Fla. 4th DCA 2012).
As noted above, everybody riding on a bike, motorcycle, or scooter should wear a helmet for his or her own safety. But what this case where our client was injured while riding helmet-less on a scooter shows is that even if you fail to wear a helmet, you are not necessarily prevented from recovering for damages against a negligent person who caused or contributed to the collision.
Seek Medical Treatment Immediately After an Accident Involving a Head Injury
If you’ve been in any type of accident where you struck your head, you should seek medical attention immediately. Brain injuries are some of the worst types of injuries a person will ever experience because, depending on the severity, your entire life can change dramatically as a result of the injury. As mentioned previously, even if you are asymptomatic, you may have still suffered a mild TBI and should get examined by a qualified medical doctor right away (and, importantly, get re-examined at a later date to see if anything else develops in the days or weeks after the accident).
Call Our Office for a Free Consultation
If you or a loved one suffered a brain injury as a result of an auto collision, a bike, motorcycle, or scooter accident, a pedestrian accident, or a slip/trip and fall incident, call our office for a free consultation. We have decades of experience handling cases where clients have suffered serious brain injuries as a result of all sorts of accidents. We also know many skilled and knowledgeable medical doctors who can examine and, if necessary, provide you treatment for your injuries.
We handle cases throughout Florida, and our attorneys are available to speak to you via phone at (954) 833-1440 or via video chat, so you don’t even need to leave your home to discuss your legal options.