While a person could undoubtedly suffer from a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) while wearing a helmet, most studies arguing against their use are ignoring the most critical benefit to a helmet: helmets lessen the severity of these injuries. A person could have a concussion while wearing a helmet, but their concussion is less severe than a person without a helmet.
In fact, one study by the Children’s Hospital Colorado and University of Colorado School of Medicine found that helmets lessen the severity of injuries for children skiing. Another published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (CMAJ) states that cyclists were three times more likely to die of a fatal head injury in a bike accident without a helmet than those wearing a helmet.
It is not enough to review a study, because there are just as many studies out there convincing people that helmets do nothing for protection or that they cause further injuries. Therefore, it is essential to look at the science behind helmets, how they work, and what they do to prevent a fatal injury.
When you think about it, your head striking the pavement or any hard surface is likely to encounter more injuries without a helmet than if you were wearing a helmet.
Despite the arguments against a helmet, there are no scientific and evidence-based reasons not to wear one. Severe trauma can occur to the brain from impact, which may lead to a concussion or something more severe like a skull fracture. Even what appears to be a minor head injury where the victim does not lose his or her consciousness, can lead to permanent complications such as memory retention issues, concentration problems, or sleep disorders.
A helmet reduces the risk of severe TBI. While it might not prevent a minor TBI, moderate to severe TBIs are what lead to long-term deficits and have a high potential for death. A helmet absorbs most of the impact when a person’s head strikes a hard surface.
One study found that bicycle helmets were protective when it came to head and neck injuries. Wearing a helmet did not increase the risk of neck injury. And even when minor TBIs occurred, these helmets reduced the severity of the injury. In other words, had the person not worn his or her helmet, they would have suffered more catastrophic damage.
One reason some studies find helmets ineffective at preventing injuries is because they explore the emotional side of wearing a helmet. If you wear a helmet, you have a sense of protection; therefore, you might put yourself at higher risk for injury, take more risks while riding a bike, and just assume that you are protected and have nothing to worry about – thus increasing the chances for a more serious accident than a person who is not wearing a helmet.
Furthermore, motorists may give more clearance to a bicycle rider they see operating a bike without a helmet.
While there is evidence of a risk compensation for those wearing helmets, that is not a fair argument against helmets.
Now that we have established the importance of wearing a helmet, we must emphasize the importance of a quality helmet. Wearing a helmet is only half a step; you must also ensure the right helmet is put on the right person for effectiveness.
Also, there are different helmets for various activities. A motorcycle helmet, for example, is not meant to be worn while skateboarding. A snowboarding helmet is not the same as a bicycle helmet.
There are some helmets designed for multi-sport activity, but only wear those helmets if the manufacturer specifies that they are multi-sport and use them for the sports indicated in the manufacturer instructions. Do not assume a multi-activity helmet applies to every activity requiring a helmet.
For a helmet to be useful, it must fit properly. A helmet should:
When you buy shoes or clothes for your child, you buy a size ahead so that they have something to grow into. While it saves you money and the hassles of repurchasing a few months later, helmets are not the same as clothes. Purchase helmets for the appropriate age, but also ensure it fits before leaving the store. Some helmet models come with pads you can remove to give your child room to grow into the helmet. If the helmet fits with the pads inserted at the time you purchase it, it will last a few years and give them the chance to grow into it.
Children and adults should inspect helmets regularly and make sure they still fit, have no visible damage, and are not too old. Helmets will not last forever. If you have been in an accident with your helmet, you must replace it unless the manufacturer specifies otherwise. Some helmets, like a snowboarding helmet, may be used for multiple impacts, but they are designed for that very purpose. Bicycle helmets, on the other hand, are rarely intended for multi-impact use.
Read the manufacturer’s instructions on expiration. Some helmets only last a few years before the manufacturer indicates replacement.
While a helmet can prevent severe head trauma, you must realize that it is only half the equation for bicycle and activity safety. You have reduced your risk of injury, but that does not mean you or your child should engage in risk compensation behavior such as cutting in front of a car on a bike or taking your bike off a steep drop. Always use caution during recreational activities to reduce the chances of being in an accident in the first place.
Whether you are injured in a cycling accident, riding a motorcycle, or snowboarding, you may qualify for compensation if you or a loved one suffers a TBI.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are traumatic injuries that can lead to long-term deficits. When the accident which caused the TBI stems from someone’s negligence, you can hold that person financially liable through a civil lawsuit.
In a civil case, you may receive compensation for:
Sometimes, the TBI is not caused by a party creating the accident but a defective helmet instead. If you suspect that your TBI or a loved one’s TBI stemmed from a defective helmet, you may have a product liability claim.
Manufacturers in the United States are held to a higher standard when it comes to product safety. When a defective product causes injury, the manufacturer and parties involved in the supply chain can be held liable for those defects.
It is best to consult with an attorney if you suspect a defective product injured you or a loved one. An attorney can review the facts, look for others who may suffer similar injuries, and work toward a settlement with the manufacturer, distributor, wholesaler, or retailer who sold the product.
If you or a loved one has suffered a traumatic brain injury, contact an attorney at Malman Law today. Our attorneys understand the cost, trauma, and anguish that you and your family are going through.
We are here to help you not only navigate through your legal options but also to hold parties responsible for those damages.
Speak with an attorney today by scheduling your free case evaluation at 888-625-6265 or request a free, no-obligation consultation online.
Malman Law’s founder Attorney Steven Malman has over 30 years of experience handling personal injury, nursing home, medical malpractice, truck accidents, car accidents, premises liability, construction, and workers’ compensation cases in Chicago, IL.
Years of experience: +30 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active and authorized to practice law—Last Registered Year: 2023