Do motorcycle helmets really reduce injuries and fatalities? What happens when a motorcycle helmet fails in a motor vehicle accident? In 2014, motorcyclists were 27 times more likely to be involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident than individuals in passenger vehicles. In 2015, 4,693 motorcyclists died in accidents. This represented 13% of total accident fatalities and was more than twice the number of motorcyclists who died in 1997. Helmets are effective at reducing fatality and injury rates. The CDC estimates that in 2015, motorcycle helmets saved 1,772 lives. It is further estimated that helmets reduce the risk of head injury by 69% and death by 37%.
One reason for the significant increase in motorcyclist fatalities nationwide is that only 19 states and DC have mandatory helmet laws. In 28 states, there are laws that require only younger motorcyclists to wear helmets. This means that a considerable number of cyclists are cruising down the road without a helmet protecting their most vital organ. According to the CDC, if every state had mandatory helmet laws, a further 740 lives would have been saved in 2015 alone. A nationwide mandatory helmet law could potentially reduce the costs of treatment, lost wages, funeral expenses by more than $1 billion.
The ability of helmets to save lives and the dangers of riding without a helmet is not "news" to the general public or any motorcycle personal injury lawyer. In 2010, surgeons attending the Eastern Association for the Surgery of Trauma presented compiled research that showed an increase in fatality and injury rates in states without universal helmet laws, and a decrease in states that passed and enforced mandatory helmet laws.
Motorcycle helmets are comprised of several layers of protection. These include the outer shell and comfort padding which is designed to absorb the impact and deflect the energy from a collision away from the brain. The helmet also contains a neck curtain and chin strap which help to stabilize the head and protect against whiplash and spinal cord fractures. Helmets must meet rigorous testing requirements set by the Department of Transportation for impact, penetration, retention, and vision.
When a motorcycle helmet fails, a motorcycle personal injury lawyer can pursue liability claims against the manufacturer or distributor. Common forms of helmet failure include cracking, breaking, or becoming detached from the head. These failures can negate the protective benefits of the helmet and can increase the risk of injury or death by transferring the impact force into the skull. Failures can also create the risk of a skull or soft tissue penetration via shards from the helmet shell. In order to bring a claim like this you must save the helmet and need to have a closed head injury or traumatic brain injury.
Brad Pistotnik Law is a motorcycle personal injury lawyer who represents motorcycle accident survivors and their families in Wichita, Lawrence, Topeka, Goodland, Garden City, Liberal, Dodge City and other cities in Kansas, Nebraska, and Illinois. Individuals who have been injured or the surviving dependents of those who have died in a motorcycle accident can pursue claims for medical expenses, lost wages, property damage, pain and suffering, loss of quality of life, loss of income, as well as loss of consortium.
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