Bicycles, helmets and head injury prevention

The temperate weather in California beckons to cyclists in any season. Avid cyclists take their riding seriously, and most are aware that Oakland's heavy traffic poses a risk to bicyclists.

A head injury is the most common cause of death or long-term disability in a vehicle-bicycle crash, but helmets reduce the risk of such an injury significantly.

A little history

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, hospital emergency rooms treat more than 600,000 cyclists every year, and 824 die from their injuries. Head injuries contribute to about 60% of deaths and 30% of emergency room visits. Unfortunately, lifelong medical issues frequently result from irreversible brain damage.

California law

The state of California requires riders below the age of 18 to wear helmets, which must meet standards set by one of three entities: the American National Standards Institute, the Snell Memorial Foundation's Standard for Protective Headgear for Use in Bicycling or the American Society for Testing Materials. Safety headgear is not required for adults, but based on the simple fact that helmets greatly reduce the chance of head injury, every rider would be smart to wear one. The use of bicycle helmets has increased in California over the years, and as an organization that funds programs to promote safety awareness, the CDC encourages riders to keep up the good work.

Finding fault

Not every motorist acknowledges—or indeed realizes—that cyclists have the right to share the road with vehicles. Cyclists are especially at risk from people who drive too close to them or make a turn directly in front of them. Following a crash, the driver will often complain that he or she simply did not see the bicycle, but this is no excuse and does not work in court. The driver is the negligent party in most vehicle-bicycle accident cases, and the cyclist is entitled to financial compensation to cover medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and more. This is especially important if the cyclist sustains brain damage that results in lifelong disability.

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David G. Smith, Attorney At Law
2201 Broadway
Penthouse 1
Oakland, CA 94612

Phone: 510-431-2598
Fax: 510-893-2701
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