Motorcyclists in particular are vulnerable to serious head injuries due to the lack of protection that a motorcycle provides compared with a car. Helmets are of course compulsory for motorcyclists and they do protect the brain, but they do not prevent injury, especially in collisions which are literally head-on.
One study in Pennsylvania, USA showed a large increase in head injury deaths and hospitalisations following the repeal of its motorcycle helmet law in 2008. Thankfully nobody is advocating repeal of the helmet law in the UK.
Cyclists are particularly vulnerable road users when it comes to the risk of head injury, and for them cycle helmets are not compulsory. That is because such helmets offer much less protection than a motorbike helmet and the scientific case for them is not so clear cut.
A study in Australia showed a 29% reduction in cyclist head injuries when mandatory helmet wearing came into force in 1991, but there the debate still rages over the effectiveness of the ban. A more recent study, reported in the Canadian Medical Association Journal earlier this year, claimed that cyclists who died of a head injury were three times as likely to not be wearing a helmet as compared to those who died from other injuries.
Pedestrians of course have no head protection and in our experience they are the most likely category of road users to suffer a head injury.
No matter how minor the injury is thought to be, a head injury sustained in a road traffic accident can have serious consequences in the days, weeks and months following the initial accident. Bleeding, bruising, swelling and blood clots can develop as a result of the head injury.
The consequences of a head injury can affect a sufferer in a number of ways including mentally, physically, emotionally and behaviourally. Mentally, the head injury can affect your memory, attention, concentration, speed of data processing and your ability to plan, organise and problem solve. Physical effects of the head injury can include impaired movement, balance and co-ordination, tiredness, headaches and epilepsy. Head injuries can also cause lack of awareness, impulsive behaviour, loss of control, depression, anxiety and obsessive behaviour.
The individual who has suffered the injury and their family may not fully comprehend immediately after the accident what impact the accident and injury will have on their lives. Often, the effects of a head injury are not fully recognised until the person tries to get back to their everyday life and routine.
We know that directly following a road accident the first concern for you and your family will be to obtain the correct medical treatment. As specialist head injury lawyers our role is to also make sure that the sufferer has full and continuous access to this treatment. As such we will also focus on rehabilitation and therapies; consider making a referral to a brain injury case manager and also by putting the family in touch with support groups of individuals who have been through a similar experience.
If family members or relatives are dependent on the injured person, perhaps financially, it is also our role to make sure that this support continues in the absence of the sufferer being able to return to work either in the short or long term. We understand that a head injury affects more people than just the victim of the accident. This being the case financial compensation will also be important to you.
When it comes to financial compensation, the full effects of the head injury can take a long while to fully develop and be diagnosed. You and your family will want to receive the correct level of compensation required to make it easier to adjust to your head injury. The financial settlement should await these developments. With this in mind our lawyers will work at securing an interim payment to make sure you and your family are not under any financial pressures.
We understand choosing a lawyer is a big decision and would be very happy to have a no obligation conversation with you and to answer any questions you may have. Do contact Stuart Kightley, partner and specialist head injuries lawyer. Please note that anything you discuss with Stuart will always be in the strictest of confidence.