Most Injured Body Regions During Bicycle Accidents
Bicycle crash injuries are most likely to impact these seven body areas:
- Upper extremities
In the event of a collision, it is not unusual for a bicyclist to act out of instinct and throw out an arm or hand to try to break their fall. This natural reflect results in injuries to the wrists, fracture to the collarbone, or clavicle, or shoulder injuries. Cyclists suffer clavicle fractures often, which can require surgery to correct or leave permanent deformities.
Broken bones can range in severity from a simple fracture to a compound fracture to a crushing injury. Serious bone breaks can be accompanied by nerve damage, ligament trauma and even psychological trauma such as anxiety and depression.
Bicyclists who scrape their arms or other body parts along the coarse surface of a roadway can end up with a friction burn known as road rash. Road rash injuries are not only painful, but can result in infections, nerve damage, “pavement tattoos” or even permanent scarring. Most cases of road rash are easily treatable with antibiotics, but skin grafts may be needed to repair more serious cases.
- Lower extremities
Bicyclists do not have any protection when riding, unlike drivers. Exposed legs and fee are vulnerable injury from impacts, especially when struck by motor vehicles. A cyclist can suffer a broken ankle, leg or foot when sideswiped by a car. Cyclists who find themselves lying in the middle of a roadway are at also risk of being struck by other traffic.
Even a moderate collision can cause a cyclist to sustain a pelvic fracture. These injuries can cause long-term problems that limit a person’s mobility. The pelvis is one of the largest bones in the body and is essential for walking, running and other types of movement.
After a crash, bicyclists often suffer skull fractures, concussions, brain contusions and other traumatic brain injuries. These head injuries are often serious and sometimes fatal. They require not only extensive medical treatment but can leave a cyclist with a permanent impairment that changes the way that he or she lives and works. Many people with brain injuries experience cognitive problems, memory loss and confusion. Head injuries account for approximately 60% of all cyclist fatalities.
Bicyclists who sail over the handlebars after a collision can sustain head injuries from striking the pavement, a nearby motor vehicle or a fixed object such as a utility pole.
Certainly, wearing a helmet is the most important thing that you can do to protect yourself from a head injury while riding a bicycle. Bicycle helmets safeguard a cyclist’s head by absorbing some of the energy from an impact and can reduce the risk of head injury. Look for helmets equipped with MIPS (Multi Impact Protection Systems) that can protect against multiple impacts in the same crash. While helmets do not offer complete protection against every impact, studies have shown that they reduce the risk of serious brain injury and death in a crash.
Cyclists know how vulnerable they are and often ride defensively. Anticipating the worst possible case scenario and trying to spot potential hazards. For example, slowing when entering an intersection so that speeding or turning drivers do not strike a cyclist as they ride straight through.
Seek immediate medical attention after a crash if you have a cracked helmet or experience a headache, loss of consciousness, confusion or impaired vision.
While a bicycle helmet shields against head injuries, the cyclist’s face is left unprotected. There are 14 bones in the face, including the cheekbones and jaw, that can be broken or even shattered in a bicycle crash. In addition, cyclists can suffer contusions or lacerations to the face, broken teeth or even more severe dental injuries.
During a crash, small rocks, pieces of glass or other objects can become embedded in cyclists’ skin and eyes. Cycling glasses or goggles can protect against these types of injuries.
When a car strikes a person on a bicycle, the cyclist can hit the handlebars or some other part of the bicycle with their chest. Fractured ribs are common. While fractured ribs can heal on their own, cyclists should always seek medical treatment to rule out potential complications like punctured lungs.
A hard blow to the chest can also injure the heart and blood vessels. If you have suffered a blow to the chest, go to a doctor as soon as possible and get checked out. Better safe than sorry.
Bicyclists can suffer internal injuries in a crash such as ruptured spleens, lacerated livers or hernias. Put simply, a hernia is a bulging of an organ or tissue through an opening in the abdomen. A “handlebar hernia,” although rare, is caused by blunt force abdominal trauma with a bicycle’s handlebar, stem, seat or top tube during a crash.
Cyclists can suffer organ damage if a careless driver or passenger opens a car door in their path. Dooring incidents are common in Boston and other cities with streets lined with parked cars.
While external cuts are easy to spot, internal bleeding is not readily apparent and can be overlooked at a crash scene. If left untreated, internal bleeding and trauma can lead to serious injury and even death. If your belly is tender to the touch or becomes hard or distended after a crash, you may have a serious internal injury and should seek immediate medical care.
Common back and spine injuries include herniated discs, pinched nerves, fractured vertebrae, and spinal cord damage. Spinal cord injuries can impact a person for the rest of his or her life. When spine damage is severe, paralysis is possible. The most serious spine injuries occur when the cervical spine—the vertebrae located near the top of the neck and back—are injured. A cyclist with back and spine injuries may need a spinal fusion or some other surgical procedure. Any numbness or tingling could be a sign of a spine injury.
The bottom line is that bicyclists are at risk of injury every time they put on their gear and hit the streets. Cyclists can do their part to stay safe by always wearing a helmet and taking other precautions such as wearing brightly colored clothing, riding defensively, and abiding by all traffic laws. Helmets should fit properly and meet safety standards set by the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
If you or a loved one has suffered a serious injury in a bicycle crash, the bicycle attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman can help you obtain compensation to get your life back on track. You may be entitled to compensation for past and future medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and more.
Because of the seriousness of bicycle crash injuries, you need an experienced bicycle attorney on your side to help you navigate the legal system and make sure that you recover full compensation for your injuries. There is too much on the line to go it alone. Our attorneys will fight for your rights as a cyclist and make sure that all at-fault parties pay the price for their negligence. As lawyers and cyclists, we understand that most bicycle crashes are not the cyclist’s fault.
Our law firm takes cases on a contingency fee basis, which means you pay nothing until we recover money for you. This provides all cyclists with access to top-tier legal services regardless of their financial situation.
For a free legal consultation, contact the bicycle attorneys at The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, LLC today at (617) 777-7777 or by using our electronic form.