Every day Colorado adds the number of motorcycles on the road. From Denver streets to the open roads of north Colorado and across the Rockies, Colorado has a large number of motorcycle riders. Unfortunately, Colorado also has a large number of motorcycle accidents. Also unfortunately, motorcycle accidents often result in catastrophic injuries or even fatalities. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 5500 motorcyclists die each year nationwide with 180,000 treated annually in emergency rooms for crash injuries.
No matter how careful or defensively ridden, the possibility of motorcycle accidents always exists. Riding carefully often isn’t enough. Motorcyclists have to go the extra mile to protect themselves from fatalities and severe injuries. One key opportunity to avoid serious bodily injury is wearing a helmet. If you are injured in an accident, the motorcycle accident lawyers at Front Range Injury Attorneys can help you obtain medical care and recover compensation.
Motorcycle Accident Lawyers in Colorado
Statistics show helmets effectively prevent serious injuries and save lives in motorcycle accidents
Study after study conclusively proves motorcycle helmets save lives in crashes–even no-contact or single vehicle accidents. Wearing a helmet does no guarantee motorcyclists will avoid a head injury or death; however, it significantly reduces the risk of injury.
Helmets reduce the risk of head injuries
Head injuries, including facial and traumatic brain injuries, are among the most common injuries to motorcyclists. In many cases, brain injuries caused by motorcycle accidents result in fatalities. According to the CDC study and the National Institute of Health’s study, wearing a helmet reduced the risk of head injuries by 69%. (Nice.)
Traumatic brain injuries, which include concussions and open head injuries, physically damage your brain and impair your brain’s normal functions. Brain injuries can result in cognitive impairments, vision and audio processing changes, emotional and personality changes, pain and headaches and a wide range of other symptoms. For some people, a brain injury is a permanent and life-changing event.
The core function of a helmet is absorbing and distributing the impact energy of a motorcycle accident. By distributing the impact, a helmet can weaken the effect on the brain and potentially avoid a penetrating or crushing blow to the skull. Although helmets might not look cool or feel pleasant to wear, the difference it might make in your life cannot be overlooked. Even if you walk away from a crash, the probability of brain injury without a helmet is three times greater.
A motorcycle helmet could save your life
In addition to reducing the probability and severity of brain injuries, motorcycle helmets also save lives. Wearing a helmet reduces the risk of fatal motorcycle crashes by nearly 50%. Without a motorcycle helmet, your risk of dying in a motorcycle accident is practically a coin flip. The CDC estimates slightly more than 1800 bikers survived an accident due to wearing a helmet.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, motorcycle helmets prevented fatal motorcycle injuries by 37% to riders and 41% to passengers. Their estimates over a fifteen year period indicates more than 25,000 lives were saved by wearing motorcycle helmets
An increase in helmet use could avoid additional fatalities and save economic costs
The CDC study continues to advocate for the life-saving protection of motorcycle helmets. Their research indicated over 800 motorcycle riders die each year due to preventable injuries if they had worn a helmet. Their study concludes that the national economy could save $1.5 billion in costs annually if all motorcyclists wear helmets.
Even when a collision does not result in a fatal impact, the cost of your injuries can still be astronomical to you personally. Often, motorcycle accidents result in bodily injuries that cause long term or permanent disability to perform job duties, walk and other basic life functions. You may lose substantial wages while you are unable to work. Worse, you may have long term lost earning potential. Additionally, medical bills for these injuries, even with health insurance, can result in anywhere from tens of thousands to millions of dollars in medical expenses. The risk of harm well exceeds the low price of buying a helmet.
Choosing the safest motorcycle helmet
Not all helmets are equal. When you buy a motorcycle helmet, you need to purchase a helmet that you can count on to reliably prevent injury or death in a motorcycle accident. Although most helmets are designed to meet safety standards, you can buy non-compliant helmets. Often, stores sell them as novelty helmets. These are not designed for highway use. They lack the absorption capability and durability necessary to protect you in a crash. You may not realize you purchased a novelty helmet and put yourself in danger. When buying a helmet, you should check to make sure it has the appropriate safety features.
Helmets come in different styles, sizes and colors. You can buy helmets including full face shield as well as half and three-quarters helmets. A full face helmet is generally the safest because it provides the most protection. It protects the neck, head and face. It also provide chin and jaw protection. This is essential because your chin and jaw are at risk of receiving half of the severe impacts in a motorcycle accident.
A helmet provides the best protection when it properly fits the user. A loose helmet will not absorb crash shock and may even come off in an accident. The best helmets fit when you can tighten the chin strap until only two fingers fit between the chin and strap. There should not be a gap anywhere between the helmet and your head.
On the other hand, you do not want a helmet that is too small. A small helmet can be painful to wear and in an accident it may not provide the same scope of protection. A full face shield helmet that is too small may restrict the rider’s view and increase risk of accident.
A helmet is only effect as a safety device if it minimizes the risk and severity of injuries in a motorcycle accident. The core safety measures of a helmet are impact-related, which includes:
- The extent the helmet protects you from large-object collisions
- Retention system strength–whether the chin strap keeps the helmet in place during an accident
- Positional stability–whether the helmet remains in place during an impact
- The extent the helmet protects the entire head
The greater the helmet’s ability to minimize injury risk, the more likely it will save your life.
Motorcycle helmets may be certified by one or more organizations. Typically a certified helmet bears certification stickers that it is approved as a compliant, safe helmet. Three organizations are well known for their certifications:
- The U.S. Department of Transportation
- Economic Commission for Europe
- The Snell Foundation
Although you may buy the safest helmet bearing all three certifications, the U.S. DOT sticker is most important in Colorado. Colorado’s motorcycle helmet law does not require adult riders to wear helmets. Under this statute, child riders must wear a U.S. DOT certified helmet at all times. Other certifications in addition to the DOT sticker are great, but the DOT sticker is required for any minor.
What to do after a motorcycle accident
After a motorcycle accident it is vital that you take care of your physical health. You may require emergency care at the accident scene, resulting in an ambulance trip to the emergency room. If you are able to safely move after a crash, you should call the police or 911. You should also obtain information about the other parties to the crash and witnesses. Take photos or video if possible.
If the EMTs release you to leave on your own after the wreck, you should take yourself to an emergency room or urgent care. You need to know if there are any emergency medical conditions that need urgent treatment. You may be in shock or focusing on pain in one area that distracts you from other injury symptoms.
You should also contact Colorado personal injury law firms right away about your collision. The insurance companies will begin work immediately to find ways to deny or reduce the value of your claim. You deserve to know your legal rights and seek fair compensation for your injuries. Our knowledgeable motorcycle accident attorneys in Denver help clients across the state injured by the negligence of other people.