Bicycle Helmets: Friend or Foe?
Like most other jurisdictions, the Golden State has a limited bicycle helmet law. Generally, riders under 17 must wear helmets in California. This requirement applies to anyone who uses an unpowered, wheeled vehicle in a public place.
Unpowered, wheeled vehicles include inline skates and non-motorized scooters. Apartment complex and shopping mall parking lots, even if they have street names and traffic control devices, are usually not public places.
Helmets, especially brightly-colored helmets, slightly improve rider visibility. But this law is mostly intended to prevent head injuries. Whether or not this law fulfills this mandate is a matter of considerable debate.
Even if the law required the victim to wear a helmet and the victim was helmetless, a San Jose personal injury lawyer might still be able to obtain compensation for head injuries and other wounds. So, a lawyer can help you. But does this law help you?
Car Accident-Related Head Injuries
Children under 17 need more protection from head injuries than adults. Childrens’ skulls are not fully developed. So, any additional protection is better than nothing, especially regarding trauma injuries. Thin bicycle helmets usually shield children from head injuries if they accidentally fall off their bikes. But such headgear does little good in a high-speed collision with a 4,000-plus pound vehicle.
Furthermore, bicycle helmets do not protect any riders from motion-related head injuries. The force in a collision, as opposed to a trauma impact, often causes such wounds.
Contrary to popular myth, the brain does not fit snugly inside the skull, like a hand in a glove. Instead, the skull is basically a water tank. This water tank suspends the brain in cerebrospinal fluid. So, when victims fall, their brains slam against the insides of their skulls.
Many doctors misdiagnose accident-related head injuries, especially if the victim shows little or no external trauma injuries. Doctors usually ascribe head injury symptoms, like disorientation, to shock from the accident. As a result, the head injury gets worse.
This issue underscores the need for accident victims to see accident physicians. Other doctors are often unable to diagnose and treat such injuries.
Helmets and Car Crashes
So, bicycle helmets offer little physical protection against head injuries. Psychologically, they might even increase such wounds.
Let’s start with the fact that many drivers have a hard time sharing the road with bicyclists. This phenomenon is known as bikelash. Many drivers get angry when they must share the road with a slow-moving bicycle. This same attitude often blocks pushes for safety engineering alterations, like designated bicycle lanes.
Helmeted riders trigger an interesting psychological response, at least according to some. Many motorists believe that helmets protect bicycle riders. Therefore, subconsciously, they drive more aggressively around bicyclists, thinking that if there is a collision, the rider will not be seriously injured.
Because of these concerns, attorneys often advocate for victims in the statehouse as well as the courthouse. Without such advocacy, lawmakers may not pass necessary safety laws.
Reach Out to a Dedicated Attorney
Bicycle helmets do not necessarily protect victims. For a free consultation with an experienced San Jose personal injury attorney, contact Solution Now Law Firm. Lawyers can connect victims with doctors, even if they have no insurance or money.