As the traffic in Houston and its suburbs become more congested, more and more options for people using alternate methods of transportation are being put into place, including new bike lanes, bike paths, and the awareness campaigns to promote them. Unfortunately, while the number of cyclists on our roadways has increased, so has the number of serious bicycle accidents, injuries, and deaths. Despite their best attempts to stay safe, cyclists are usually the ones who are hurt when something goes wrong on a ride.
Cyclists Often Suffer Severe and Life-Changing Injuries in Accidents
Cyclists can suffer all sorts of injuries while they ride, from scrapes and bruises to broken bones. However, in accidents with other vehicles, even a low-speed impact can have serious consequences for the vulnerable rider. No matter what the age or experience level of the rider, they are at risk for a number of different types of injuries in an accident.
Scrapes, Strains, and Bruises
Cyclists often wake up the day after an accident to find that they are more gravely injured than they realized. A collision can cause joint strain, neck and back injuries, and large bruises. Road rash may be painful, full of dirt or gravel, and prone to infection. However, even relatively minor soft-tissue injuries like these can be bigger problems than they may seem at first, and they can also be surprisingly expensive to treat. Unfortunately, even cyclists whose lives have been seriously affected by seemingly “minor” injuries or unexpected medical complications can have trouble holding negligent drivers responsible for the true cost of an accident.
Bone fractures are a very common injury for cyclists. Broken arms and legs are probably the most common, but a collision with another vehicle puts riders at risk for broken bones of all kinds. It isn’t unusual to see fractures of the collarbone, facial bones, pelvis, skull, and ribs. Breaks can be simple or complicated to treat, depending on their nature, location, and potential complications. While broken bones do usually heal eventually, and many cyclists are able to make a full recovery, the process can be long, painful, and temporarily disabling.
Chest and Abdominal Injuries
Riders sometimes take the force of an accident with their torsos, resulting in potentially serious injuries to the chest, abdomen, and organs. Along with broken ribs, cyclists may suffer:
- Life-threatening lung punctures
- Injuries from impact with the bike’s handlebars or saddle
- Damage to the liver, kidneys, bladder, or other internal organs
While not as common as broken bones or road rash, serious torso injuries are often dangerous. While the impact of the accident may only last a second, the impact of chest and abdomen injuries can last for months or even years into the cyclist’s future.
Brain injuries are among the most serious outcomes in a bike accident. Even moderate concussions can interfere with the victim’s daily activities and ability to function during the recovery period, and very serious brain injuries can change a person’s life forever. The symptoms of a brain injury can be very severe and distressing for the person affected, as well as for his or her family, friends, and caretakers. Any kind of head injury can be frightening, disruptive, and potentially dangerous, so it’s important to understand that taking a “bump on the head” in a bike accident can be incredibly harmful. Brain injuries can take hours or even a few days to become fully apparent, so it’s important to see a doctor as soon as possible after a bike accident that involved a blow to the head.
Whether the brain injury is mild, moderate, or severe, the treatment can be intensive. In addition to the immediate medical treatment required, victims often also need rehabilitation and long-term therapy. While recovering and learning how to cope with long-term symptoms, head injury victims may be unable to work, fully care for themselves, or take part in the activities they used to enjoy. In some cases, the victims of brain injuries are completely unable to return to work or resume their “normal” lives. Saying that brain injuries are expensive—both financially and emotionally—is an understatement, and getting the necessary treatment can quickly drain a family’s entire savings and hope for the future.
It’s an unfortunate fact, but one that can’t be ignored. As the many “ghost bikes” in Houston remind us, cyclists sometimes don’t survive serious accidents or the injuries they sustain. Even with high-quality gear, cyclists are incredibly vulnerable to drivers, especially those who are distracted, driving recklessly, or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Getting Help If You or Someone You Love Have Been Seriously Hurt in a Bicycle Accident in the Houston Area
If you or a family member has been hurt in a cycling accident, talking to an attorney early on will help you in several ways:
- An attorney will be able to tell you what your legal rights are in your unique situation.
- An attorney will be able to walk you through what to expect if you decide to file a lawsuit and how a case involving a serious injury typically plays out.
- An attorney will be able to help advocate for you to get the best help possible, take steps to ensure you have the best chance for recovery, and use the power of the civil justice system to help you get the treatment you need.
Do you need immediate help with your questions about a bike accident that hurt you or someone you love? To talk with one of our attorneys about your case right now, call us at 1-877-724-7800. You may also find it helpful to learn more about your rights—and how to protect them—by reading through our free book, How to Win Your Injury Case.