Car-bike accident injuries might be more common than you think. In fact, bicyclists make up two percent of all traffic-related injuries and deaths each year. On the road, bicyclists are especially vulnerable. They tend to have minimal safety equipment and are ignored by other motorists. By learning about the most common bike accident injuries and how they occur, you can be better prepared at avoiding them.
In this article, the experienced bicycle injury lawyers at Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys will discuss the most common kinds of injuries, how to avoid them, and what to do if you should experience one.
Alabama’s Most Common Bike Accident Injuries
While cycling is a great form of transportation and exercise, it can be dangerous. During a car-bike accident, cyclists don’t have many safety systems (other than their bike helmets) to protect them. Injuries to the lower and upper extremities are very common in bike accidents. Common injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs)
- Back and spinal cord injuries
- Joint damage, especially to the shoulders, wrists, knees, and hips
- Internal and organ damage
- Abrasions and lacerations
- Strains, sprains, and other soft tissue injuries
- Broken bones and teeth
Similar to motorcycle accidents, road rash often occurs in bike accidents too. Road rash occurs when friction rubs off layers of your skin, causing painful wounds. When road rash does occur, it might require the removal of debris from the skin. Serious cases may even need skin grafts.
If you think that you may have a fracture or a broken bone, then you may be experiencing one of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty moving the body part
After a car-bike accident, its’ a good idea to get imaging studies, like an x-ray or MRI, to look for fractures and other injuries. Imaging is the only way to know for sure that a bone is broken.
You should visit a doctor as soon as possible if you think a bone might be broken. Waiting for it to get better on its own could end up making things more difficult for you later on.
There’s a good reason why it’s recommended that everybody who rides a bike should wear a helmet: head injuries. Injured bicyclists are at significant risk of head injuries. Between 2002 and 2012, seventy-eight percent of adult cyclists and eighty-eight percent of young riders who sustained neck and head injuries were not wearing helmets.
Head injuries after a car-bike accident can vary dramatically. While some people only suffer mild concussions that resolve within a couple of weeks, others are left with severe, permanent disabilities. If you were in a bicycle accident and suffered a loss of consciousness, you should always see a doctor. You likely suffered a head injury, and prompt medical care can help you recover more fully.
Lung and Rib Damage
There’s a chance that you might have punctured a lung or broken a rib if you took a hard fall. A lot of people assume that there isn’t anything that can be done with chest or rib pain, so they ignore it. However, doing this would be a big mistake.
If you have trouble breathing, you should contact emergency medical services immediately. A good rule of thumb is to take a deep breath. If you happen to feel pain when breathing in, then you should go to the emergency room. Even a minor crack in the ribs could lead to the puncturing of a lung.
Stomach and Abdominal Injuries
Did you end up hitting the handlebars when you were in an accident? If you hit them hard enough, you may have injured soft tissue and organs in the stomach. If this happens to you, make sure you examine your abdomen.
Mainly, you want to look for areas of the belly that are more tender and sore than other areas. If your stomach feels distended or hard in one area, then you may have internal bleeding going on. If you do have internal bleeding, then you should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Neck and Spine Injuries
A spine injury should be taken very seriously. If you think that your neck or spine has been severely injured, then you should stay as still as possible and wait for medical professionals to arrive. Some signs that you may have an injury in the neck or spine can include tingling, numbness, and difficulty with moving the toes or fingers.
If you have problems moving your neck, then you want to go to the emergency room immediately. The last thing you should be doing is continuing to move your neck and risk permanently damaging your spinal cord.
The Worst Times to Ride a Bike in Alabama
If you ride a bike, then you should already be aware that you’re at a much higher risk of injuring yourself, should an accident take place. A bicycle is no match for a car or truck. In some accidents, you might become significantly injured while in others, you may simply be able to dust yourself off and keep riding.
For many people, it’s simply a game of chance.
A significant percentage of bike-related deaths take place between 6:00 PM and 9:00 PM. Most deaths also occur in urban areas. Also, a surprising number of people who die in bicycle accidents have relatively high levels of alcohol in their bodies.
It’s also important to be aware of where bike accidents tend to take place. For example, 33% of bicycle fatalities in 2009 took place at intersections.
Tips on How to Avoid a Bicycle Collision
Drivers and bicyclists can avoid car vs. bicycle collisions by remaining alert. Alabama drivers need to recognize that bicyclists, also known as pedalcyclists, have the same rights and responsibilities that motorists do.
Drivers can avoid hitting a bicyclist by following the tips below:
- Drive at a safe speed for the weather and road conditions
- Be careful on two-lane roads. Almost 60 percent of all bicycle crashes occur on roads where traffic moves at high speeds on narrow lanes.
- Stay focused on the road. Driving while distracted increases your chances of being involved in an accident.
- Do not drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
In addition, bike riders should take the following precautions to avoid being hit by a motor vehicle:
- Keep both hands on your handlebars to maintain control of your bicycle.
- If you are going to ride your bike at night, make sure that you have flashing lights on your bicycle.
- When passing through an intersection, avoid riding next to cars. You should always merge into traffic when riding through intersections.
- Do not attempt to make a left-hand turn from a designated bike lane. Merge into the left lane to make the turn safely. Also, do not cut in front of motorists; they may not be aware that you’re on the road.
- Wear a helmet every time you ride your bike. In the event of a collision, a bicycle helmet may prevent you from sustaining severe injuries, such as a skull fracture or traumatic brain injury.
What to Do After a Bike Accident
“Even if you happen to be involved in just a minor accident, there could be some serious issues going on that you don’t realize at first. These complications tend to show themselves days or even weeks after the incident. Luckily, there are a few things you can do following an accident to make sure that you’re actually okay.”
Even if you happen to be involved in just a minor accident, there could be some serious issues going on that you don’t realize at first. These complications tend to show themselves days or even weeks after the incident. Luckily, there are a few things you can do following an accident to make sure that you’re actually okay.
After a crash, you should always:
- Call 911 and request medical care for any serious or life-threatening injuries.
- Cooperate with the police when they arrive at the crash scene.
- Take pictures of the wreck and the vehicles involved, if possible.
- Collect the names and contact information of anyone who was involved in or witnessed the bicycle wreck
- Consult with an experienced bicycle accident lawyer at Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys.
A lawyer will be able to work with insurance companies, doctors, and judges to make sure that you receive the compensation and attention that you deserve.
Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys: Experienced Alabama Injury Lawyers
If you’re ready to talk to an experienced, respected injury lawyer who will go the extra mile for you, call Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys. We’ve helped thousands of people get the help and compensation they deserve. We offer free consultations throughout Alabama, either in-person, by video, or over the phone.
Bicycle safety. (n.d.) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Retrieved from https://www.nhtsa.gov/road-safety/bicyclists
Loria, K. (2019, September 13). Most cyclists who suffer head injuries aren’t wearing helmets. Consumer Reports. Retrieved from https://www.consumerreports.org/head-injuries/most-cyclists-who-suffer-head-injuries-arent-wearing-helmets/