Riding a motorcycle can offer substantial thrills, and it costs less than driving a car. Unfortunately, riders also face higher accident risks than other motorists and, when an accident does occur, a significantly greater likelihood of suffering severe injury or death.
Motorcycle helmets usually constitute the only form of protection motorcyclists have from suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Helmets can decrease fatality rates by as much as 73%, and helmeted riders have a 67% lower chance of suffering severe TBI compared to non-helmeted riders. Still, even the best helmets cannot eliminate TBI risk.
Let’s take a look at what happens after a motorcyclist suffers a brain injury in a motorcycle accident.
Warning Signs of Traumatic Brain Injury
To guard against the potentially profound impairments and difficulties that can accompany a TBI, motorcyclists should know the warning signs of brain trauma. Keep in mind, however, that these signs do not always appear, nor do injured people always recognize them. That is why riders should always seek medical attention immediately after any motorcycle accident, no matter how they feel.
Losing consciousness immediately after the accident represents perhaps the most obvious indication of a motorcyclist having suffered a brain injury. Even so-called “mild” TBIs (also called concussions) can result in long-term, disabling complications.
Loss of consciousness, however, constitutes just one of a wide array of symptoms of TBI.
Other symptoms that can emerge soon after suffering an injury include:
- Headache that persists or worsens;
- Tunnel vision or blurred vision;
- Slurred speech;
- Ringing in the ears;
- Lightheadedness or dizziness;
- Sensitivity to light and sound; and
- Nausea or vomiting.
These symptoms appearing soon after an accident constitutes a strong warning sign of potential TBI, and requires immediate medical attention. We repeat, however, that even if these symptoms do not appear, riders should always consult with a doctor right away after an accident.
Riders who do not experience or recognize symptoms in the immediate aftermath of a motorcycle crash may yet notice symptoms in the days or weeks that follow that could also signal that they suffered a TBI.
In addition to the symptoms above, which can emerge over time, other longer-term signs of TBI can include:
- Unusual moods or difficulty regulating emotion;
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing attention;
- Periods of disorientation or “going blank”;
- Excessive fatigue;
- Sleep disturbances or changes in sleep patterns;
- Problems with motor coordination;
- Short-term and long-term memory deficits; and
- Impaired speech, word choice, and language comprehension.
Any of these symptoms (and many more) can develop and persist long after a motorcyclist suffers a TBI of any degree of severity. That is why we always tell our motorcycle crash clients that there is nothing “mild” about a so-called “mild” TBI. A brain injury has the potential to cause serious, lifelong difficulties, no matter how doctors classify it when it first happens.
Returning to Work or School After Traumatic Brain Injury in a Motorcycle Accident
Returning to work or school after suffering a traumatic brain injury can make for a complicated, frustrating experience for many people. Many impairments and disabilities common for TBI victims can interfere with learning and performing job tasks. State and federal laws may also protect those victims, but they often need the assistance of an experienced brain injury attorney to ensure they enjoy the full benefit of their legal rights.
Work and School Difficulties Associated with TBI
Here are some of the ways the symptoms of a TBI can interfere with work and schooling.
- Short-term memory difficulties can get in the way of following through on important tasks at the workplace or classroom. Most any job or school setting requires a person to retain information in the short-term.
- Long-term memory difficulties similarly interrupt a person's ability to make use of the information they need to recall to do their jobs or succeed in their studies.
- Struggles with emotional regulation can cause embarrassing or uncomfortable situations for victims and those around them, presenting challenges for employers and school administrators alike.
- Cognitive struggles of all types also get in the way of learning and working. TBI victims, for instance, sometimes struggle with following simple processes, or with engaging in basic logical reasoning that came naturally before an injury.
- Physical/motor impairments can simply stand in the way of victims keeping up with work or school tasks. In today’s world, lots of jobs and schoolwork require the manual dexterity necessary for typing, for example, which might prove challenging for a person who has suffered from a TBI.
Work/School-Related Legal Considerations
TBI victims whose injuries have caused them substantial impairment in their daily lives may benefit from the protections of state and federal disability laws. Broadly speaking, these laws require employers, schools, and other entities to provide “reasonable accommodations” for persons with disabilities, within certain limits, and also outlaw discrimination against persons based on their disabilities.
It is not always easy to enforce your rights under disability laws. As you might imagine, the requirement that an employer or school provide a “reasonable accommodation” can prompt lots of dispute over what it is “reasonable” to ask those entities to do, and over whether someone has been the victim of discrimination. Plus, violation of these laws can lead to significant legal liability. A skilled brain injury attorney ensures that victims receive the full protections of disability rights laws in work and school settings.
Taking Legal Action for Damages After a Motorcycle Accident Resulting in TBI
For many victims, traumatic brain injury causes lifelong limitations that cause significant physical, emotional, and financial challenges. Motorcycle accident victims who suffer a TBI have legal rights to receive compensation from anyone whose careless, reckless, or intentionally-harmful actions caused their injuries. Let’s take a look at those rights.
Legal Liability for Motorcycle Accidents Resulting in TBI
In the United States, the law holds a person whose wrongful actions harm another person “legally liable” for “damages.” That means, in a nutshell, that the person who caused injuries has to pay compensation to the person who suffered those injuries.
Who might have legal liability for a motorcycle accident? Obviously, it all depends on the circumstances of the crash. However, experienced motorcycle accident attorneys will often investigate any of the following as potentially liable parties:
- Motorists whose careless actions behind the wheel of a car or truck led to a crash with a motorcycle. Unfortunately, many motorists cause accidents by failing to yield the right of way to a motorcycle, often by turning left into the path of a motorcycle.
- Employers of anyone who causes an accident while working, such as when a delivery truck crashes into a motorcycle. Generally speaking, employers have liability for the actions of their employees that happen in the scope of their employment.
- Automotive manufacturers face liability for producing defective, unreasonably dangerous products that fail, resulting in a motorcycle crash.
- Government entities can owe damages to anyone hurt in a motorcycle crash caused by a dangerous road condition that the entity should have prevented.
These are just a few examples, of course. Every motorcycle crash has its own unique aspects. The point is, motorcycle accident victims who suffer a TBI frequently have the right to receive substantial payments for the harm done to them.
Damages for Motorcycle Accidents Resulting in TBI
By taking legal action against a party whose wrongful actions caused a motorcycle crash, victims who suffered a TBI can obtain significant compensation for their injuries and losses. As we said, every case differs.
However, generally speaking, people who struggle with a TBI caused by a motorcycle accident can seek to obtain payment for:
- Medical expenses associated with treating a TBI, including emergency care and long-term therapies.
- Non-medical expenses directly related to living with a TBI, such as the cost of hiring someone to help out with daily activities that TBI symptoms interfere with.
- Lost wages and income opportunities connected to the victim suffering from TBI, such as wages a person can no longer earn because TBI symptoms make working impossible. Disability insurance may cover some of these expenses, but will rarely account for all of them.
- Physical pain, emotional suffering, and diminished quality of life caused by TBI symptoms.
- “Punitive” or “exemplary” damages that punish the behavior that led to the motorcycle accident, and that seek to deter that behavior in the future.
Part of an experienced motorcycle accident brain injury lawyer’s job is to calculate the full amount of damages a TBI victim has a legal right to recover, and then to pursue every avenue for obtaining as much of that compensation as possible.
The Role of Helmets in TBI-Related Motorcycle Accident Cases
Research has proven time-and-again that wearing a helmet increases a motorcyclist’s odds of surviving a wreck, and decreases the potential severity of a TBI in a crash. Many, but not all, states require riders to wear helmets. Laws aside, wearing a helmet is always a good idea.
Still, an un-helmeted rider who suffers a TBI in a motorcycle accident still has rights. Although riding without a helmet poses risks, it does not give someone else permission to cause a wreck. Even if you were not wearing a helmet in a motorcycle accident in which you suffered a TBI, you likely still can take legal action seeking compensation. Call an experienced TBI motorcycle accident lawyer today to learn more.
What to Do After a Motorcycle Accident
First, always seek medical attention immediately. Any traumatic brain injury may require significant medical treatment. Brain injury can also worsen over time from bleeding or swelling. The sooner a doctor can catch a brain injury, the better the biker’s chances of minimizing the damage and the potential long-term effects. Plus, seeking medical attention creates medical records, which may prove useful in the future if a motorcyclist wants to take legal action seeking compensation from whomever caused the accident.
After seeking medical care, consider taking the following steps, too, to protect your legal rights.
- Let your employer know that you have suffered an injury in an accident and that you may need to miss work. You may have the right to significant job protections and to work accommodations under state and federal labor laws if a crash leaves you disabled. Informing your employer of the injury gives notice and ensures that your employer knows you have not simply quit work when you do not show up after getting hurt in a motorcycle accident.
- Educate yourself on your insurance coverage if you are unfamiliar with it. If necessary, contact any insurer who needs to know about the accident under the terms of any insurance policy.
- Contact an experienced personal injury attorney to evaluate your rights to receive compensation for your injuries and losses. The sooner you contact your attorney, the better the chances of obtaining the evidence you may need to prove that someone else has legal liability for the crash, and that you should get paid.
Seek Help From an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Brain Injury Lawyer Today
Motorcyclists have the same rights to use the road as anyone else. They neither ask for, nor deserve, the disrespect of other motorists. A motorcycle wreck can cause severe harm, especially debilitating traumatic brain injuries that leave riders with lifelong impairments that impact every aspect of their lives. Victims of these injuries deserve fair, reasonable, full compensation from anyone whose actions caused them harm.
If you suffered a traumatic brain injury in a motorcycle accident, then do not delay in finding out about your legal rights to seek money damages for your injuries and losses. Contact an experienced brain injury attorney as soon as possible for a free case consultation.
The Levin Firm
1500 John F. Kennedy Blvd,
Two Penn Center, Suite 620
Philadelphia, PA 19102