Across the country, there are debates on the utility of helmets. Some states and cities have mandatory helmet laws; others do not. Experts on both sides argue about how effective helmets really are in serious bicycle accidents.
One study showed that the chances of suffering a traumatic brain injury are cut in half by wearing a helmet. The study was published in the American Journal of Surgery. The study also concluded that helmet wearers were less likely to die as a result of their injuries and to suffer broken facial bones.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has estimated that less than half of all bicyclists wear helmets. In 2016, 51 percent of the bicyclists who died in accidents were not wearing helmets. It should be noted that in 33 percent of the bicyclist fatalities, helmet use was unknown. The highest number of deaths was recorded in June, and the lowest was recorded in February.
Though it has certainly been proven that wearing a helmet while biking offers substantial benefits in many cases, opponents argue that emphasizing helmet wear misses the point. This group argues that teaching cyclists how to ride safely and teaching motorists how to share the road with cyclists is what truly saves lives. For example, one study showed that cars pass cyclists with helmets at a closer distance than cyclists who do not have on a helmet.
In 2015, more than 1,000 bicyclists were killed in accidents in the United States. There were close to 467,000 bicycle accident-related injuries as well. According to the CDC, adults between the ages of 50 and 59 are most at risk of bicycle accident fatalities, but children and adolescents between 5 years of age and 19 years of age are most at risk of nonfatal injuries. Most fatal bicycle accidents happen in urban areas. Interestingly, in 37 percent of fatal bicycle traffic accidents, either the cyclist or the motorist had consumed alcohol.
If a bicyclist is injured by a driver’s negligence, that bicyclist may be entitled to damages. In any type of injury claim, including motor vehicle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and bicycle accidents, three elements must be proven:
- The at-fault party had a duty to the victim;
- This duty was breached by a negligent act or omission; and
- Due to the breach, the victim suffered damages.
The duty in traffic accidents is generally to act in a manner that is reasonable under the circumstances, such as by following traffic laws and paying attention to where one is traveling. The breach could be running a stop sign or failing to yield. Damages include medical bills, lost wages, and other expenses the victim endured. All three of these elements must be present for a victim to prevail in a personal injury claim.
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