Just like cars and other modes of transportation, bicycle safety should be a concern for everyone. The more safety precautions you take, the less likely you will be injured in an accident. When it comes to bicycles, wearing a helmet is an important safety precaution. However, the laws regarding the use of bicycle helmets are not widely known and they are different depending on where you are. You should ask your bicycle accident lawyer which laws apply to you.
Bicycle helmet laws are established by your state
First, there is no federal law requiring bicycle helmets. Some states and municipalities have passed certain laws regarding helmets and the bicycle accident lawyer in your area will know what those laws are. Most helmet laws that are in effect are limited to children under certain ages. Currently, there are about 22 states and the District of Columbia which have passed statewide laws regarding helmet use. Arkansas does not have a bicycle helmet law at this time. Missouri does not have a statewide law, but certain counties and cities in Missouri have established laws based on the age of the rider. No state currently enforces helmet laws for adult bicyclists.
How bicycle helmet laws affect bicycle accidents
Wearing a bicycle helmet is smart no matter what the law requires, but bicycle helmet laws could also have an impact on an injury claim following a bicycle accident. For instance, if you are riding in a state or city where you are required by law to wear a helmet when riding your bike, and you are involved in a bicycle accident and injured, if you did not have your helmet on that will likely affect your ability to recovery for your injuries.
In some states, your violation of the law (not wearing a helmet) might make you automatically negligent in terms of the injuries you suffered. That all depends on the comparative negligence rules followed in your state. Just consider how difficult it may be to prove that you would not have received a head injury even if you had been wearing your helmet as the law required.
Research suggests that helmets reduce the severity of injuries
Many studies have been conducted on the effectiveness of helmets for bicyclists. It is pretty much agreed that wearing a helmet reduces the severity of head injuries, including brain bleeds, traumatic brain injuries, facial fractures and the need for craniotomies.
Researchers found that among the groups studied, the ones wearing helmets had a 58 percent reduced chance of severe traumatic brain injury and a 59 percent reduced risk of death. It was also found that the use of helmets reduced the need for a craniotomy by 61 percent. A craniotomy is a surgery to remove part of the bone from the skull to expose the brain and relieve swelling. Helmets potentially reduce the risk of facial fractures by 26 percent.
Bicycle accident lawyer understands the inherent risks for bicyclists
Regardless of whether bicyclists are wearing helmets, bicycle accidents frequently occur because of negligence on the part of other motorists. Helmets cannot prevent other injuries bicyclists often suffer when they are struck. In comparison to the occupants of a passenger vehicle, bicyclists lack the type of protection provided by seatbelts, airbags and the basic frame of a car. For that reason, similar to motorcycle accidents, it is often the bicyclist who suffers serious injuries. Motorists must recognize that they have the same rights and responsibilities as drivers of other motor vehicles. In most states, a bicyclist is expected to follow the rules of the road and laws concerning traveling on the roadway.
Common causes of bicycle accidents
Here are some of the most common violations on the part of motorists that lead to bicycle accidents:
- Drivers failing to consciously look for bicyclists.
- Motorists exceeding the speed limit or motorists driving at a speed that is unsafe given roadway, traffic and weather conditions.
- Drivers passing too close to bicyclists.
- Motorists intruding into bike lanes.
- Drivers making unsafe lane changes or turns.
- Motorists failing to yield the right-of-way to bicyclists. This is one of the most common causes of bicycle accidents involving other vehicles.
- Drivers or passengers opening doors in the path of moving bicyclists.
- Drivers blocking bike lanes and causing bicyclists to swerve into the path of other vehicles.
If you have questions regarding bicycle accidents, or any other personal injury concerns in Arkansas or Missouri, please contact the Cottrell Law Office for a consultation, either online or by calling us as (888) 433-4861.
He is licensed to practice law in the United States District Court for the District of Kansas, eastern Arkansas, western Arkansas, and western Missouri. He was Deputy Prosecuting Attorney in Crawford County, Kansas from 1987-1989.
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