Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney is here to help you seek compensation for injuries resulting from bicycle accidents in Jacksonville, Florida. The most common bicycle accident injuries that we have handled include head injuries, neck injuries, bone fractures, facial injuries, joint dislocation, amputation, and road rash. Read on to get more details about these common types of bicycle accident injuries.
Head injuries are common among victims of bicycle accidents. A cracked helmet can be an indication that the victims head was injured. There are different types of head injuries, and their severity varies with each category of the injury.
Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBI)
TBI causes the damage of the brain by bruising or a blood clot. The size and location of the blood clot in the brain determine how severe the damage is. Intracranial hematoma (ICH) is another term used for a blood clot in the brain. Traumatic head injuries are typically classified as mild or moderate to severe.
- Mild TBI. This brain injury can be noticed by observing some physical symptoms like problems with speech, loss of consciousness for a few seconds to minutes, nausea, sleeping more than usual, state of confusion or being disoriented, sensitivity to sound or light, ringing ears, blurred vision, a foul taste in the mouth, memory challenges, and anxiety among others.
- Moderate to severe TBI. Moderate to severe traumatic brain injury can include any signs and symptoms of mild TBI as well as other signs which may show up within the first hours to days after the injury. These other signs are inability to awaken from sleep, loss of coordination, numb fingers, and toes, convulsions, loss of consciousness from a few minutes to hours, repeated vomiting, persistent headache, clear fluid draining from the ears, slurred speech, deep confusion and coma among others.
Moderate to severe TBI can lead to permanent or prolonged changes in an individual’s state of responsiveness, awareness, and consciousness. The different states of consciousness include:
- Coma. When a person is in a coma, he/she is unconscious and cannot respond to any stimulus
- Vegetative state. A person in a vegetative state is unaware of the surroundings though he/she may make sounds, open the eyes, and respond to reflexes
- Minimally conscious state. This is sometimes a transition stage from a vegetative state or a coma to recovery. At this state, there are signs that the victim is aware of his/her environment
- Brain death. When there is no activity in the brain stem or the brain, the condition is referred to as brain death. Brain death is considered irreversible, so in case the breathing devices are removed, breathing stops and eventually the heart fails.
The skull is a bony structure that performs a very vital role, protecting the brain. The skull has two parts namely the cranial and the mandible. The skull fractures are classified by how severe they are and how much more damage they have caused. The various types of skull fractures include:
- Simple fracture: The skull fractures but the skin remains intact without a cut
- Linear fracture: A linear fracture appears as one thin line without additional lines branching from it. There is no distortion or compression of the bones
- Depressed fracture: In a depressed skull fracture, the broken bones can be displaced towards the brain. This can result in severe brain damage
- Compound fracture: It is also called an open fracture. Here, the skin is broken, and the skull has multiple fractures
- Basilar skull fracture: This is the most severe type of skull injury where the bone breaks at the base of the skull. These patients typically have bruises around the eyes and ears and may also have clear fluid draining from the ears and nose
Skull fractures can cause the veins in the brain to rupture causing bleeding. Swelling may also develop, hence, compressing the brain tissue leading to brain damages. The symptoms of a skull fracture may include:
- Bleeding from a wound
- A clear fluid leaking from the ears and the nose
- Feeling confused
- Loss of speech
- Difficulty swallowing
- Loss of bladder and bowel control
- Loss of balance
- A stiff neck
- Ringing in the ears
- A slow pulse
- Dilated pupils that are not reacting to light
The doctor may use the above symptoms to diagnose a skull fracture or may use other tests which may include a CT scan, an X-ray or an MRI scan.
Swelling is the body’s response to injuries. When a person sustains a head injury, the brain may swell increasing the pressure inside the skull. This prevents the flow of blood to the brain, which denies it of oxygen needed for proper functioning. Consequently, the brain cells would be damaged.
Generally, a hematoma is defined as the collection of blood outside the blood vessels. When a person is involved in an accident, he/she may have a head injury causing hematoma in the head, also known as a subdural hematoma. In this case, the blood collects between the brain tissue and the inside lining of the brain. The person may also have Intracranial epidural hematoma where the blood collects between the skull and the outer lining of the brain.
It is vital to visit a doctor to assess you in case of an accident. Head injuries can cause death not only instantly but days or weeks after the accident if the injuries are not monitored attentively. Each head injury is treated differently depending on how severe it is.
Treatment may involve surgery, rest, and medication
Diuretics are the common type of medication administered to head injury patients because they aid in the reduction of pressure in the brain. Anti-seizure drugs are also given to people who had moderate to severe brain damage and are at risk of having seizures during the first few days after the injury. The anti-seizure drugs help to prevent any additional damage that might be caused by a seizure. The doctor may use coma-inducing drugs to put the victim into a temporary coma because a brain at a coma needs less oxygen to function. This is helpful when the pressure in the brain compresses the blood vessels limiting the regular supply of oxygen and nutrients to the brain.
Bone fracture is defined as discontinuity of the bone. Recovery from a fracture depends on the type of fracture that was sustained by a cyclist during an accident. The types of bone fractures include:
- Simple fracture: It is also called closed fractures where the broken bones remain within the body and do not go through the skin.
- Compound fracture: It is also known as open fractures where the broken bones penetrate the skin exposing the deep tissues and the bone to the external environment. Compound fractures may be complicated compared to simple fractures because pathogens may enter through the wound and cause infections.
- Comminuted fractures: This fracture is considered severe because the bone breaks into many small pieces.
- Avulsion fractures: This involves tearing off a small piece of bone from the main bone as a result of extreme force to a tendon or ligament.
- Non-displaced fracture: In such cases, the cracked bones maintain its alignment even after breaking.
- Displaced fractures. In such a fracture, the ends are not lined up straight because of the snapping and movement of the broken bone.
The symptoms of bone fractures vary depending on the severity and the affected bone. They include pain, inability to move the affected area, swelling, the affected area may be bent at an unusual angle, bruising, the skin around the affected area may be discolored, and bleeding (in open fractures).
When a large bone such as the thigh bone (femur) or pelvic bone is affected, the victim may feel faint, nausea or look pale and unpleasantly damp.
The doctor will always ask for an X-ray to confirm the type of fracture in order to establish the best treatment method. Since bone healing is a natural process, the injured bone is provided with the best circumstances for healing. Thus, the injured bone must be immobilized.
Prior to immobilization, the victim is put under anesthesia, and fracture reduction is made either by surgery, manipulation or closed reduction which involves pulling the bone pieces.
Immobilization ensures that the aligned bones stay aligned to facilitate the healing process. This may include the use of; plaster casts, metal plates, and screws, external fixators, and intramedullary nails
In cases where the skin and soft tissues are damaged, the patient must be treated with antibiotics to prevent infections. The fractured bone is usually immobilized for 2-8 weeks. The duration is dependent on the affected bone and whether there are complications.
The helmet might protect the cyclist from head or spine injuries, but the jaw, nose, mouth, and face remain vulnerable. In the event the cyclist’s face impacts with the pavement, a stationary object or another vehicle, the traumatic impact will cause extensive damage to the facial components which are fragile. Facial components which may be injured are:
- Jaw. The impact may fracture the jaw bone or dislocate it. There is a high probability that Jaw bone injuries are accompanied by fractured, chipped or displaced teeth which is extremely painful. The victim encounters many problems including difficulty in chewing and mechanically digesting food as well as emotional issues due to his or her appearance.
- Nose. Nasal damage is common in a bicycle accident due to its placement on the face. A broken nose result in great pain, disfigurement, and other issues like the nostrils may become obstructed making breathing difficult, or the sinus might be damaged. Emotional issues may also arise due to facial disfigurement.
- Facial fractures. Since the cheekbones protrude, they can be fractured easily in case of a traumatic force on them
These types of injuries may not need surgery to repair. At other times plates, screws or wires may aid with joining the facial bones. When the victim’s face has been disfigured, reconstructive surgery may be done. Healthy bones from another part of the body might be used to replace the broken facial bone.
This occurs when a joint is forcefully displaced from its intended position in the body to another position. Most bicycle accidents cause shoulder and finger dislocation, but hips, knee, elbows, and ankle joints can also be dislocated. No matter the joint that is dislocated, it is crucial to seek medical help before seeking compensation
- Fingers: It is easy to notice a finger dislocation because the finger will appear crooked, swollen, and pointing an abnormal direction.
- Shoulders: This dislocation occurs when a bicyclist tries to stop a fall with his or her hands and arms. This causes the ball of the humerus bone to dislocate from the shoulder sockets forcefully. In such a case, the victim should see qualified medical personnel because the bone needs to be returned to its original position immediately.
- Elbows: Elbow is a complex hinge joint and can become dislocated when a cyclist tries to break a fall. Due to the complexity of the joint, when its dislocated, urgent care and reduction are necessary. If ligaments and /or bone are injured, surgery will be performed for the purposes of restoring function, the range of motion and alignment. Immobilization of the arm will be necessary to facilitate healing.
- Ankles: Victims of ankle dislocations have difficulties when walking due to severe pain. Weakness and pain should be expected after the bones of the ankle have been restored to its right position. The extent of the dislocation injury determines the method of treatment. There might be damaged muscles, ligaments, nerves, and blood vessels or even fractures around the dislocated joint.
- Knees: Knee dislocation can be very dangerous due to the possibility of neurovascular damage. Treatment of kneecap (patella) dislocation involves immobilization or surgery if there are cartilage damage and fractures.
- Hips: Thighbone (femur) fractures accompany hip dislocations. Usually, the ball of the hip joint pops out of the socket backward. The doctor medicates the victim and restores the socket back to its position. If there are other injuries involved it will take longer to resolve the condition due to the complexity of the joint.
An amputation involves the removal of a body part like a leg, foot, hand or arm. The removal can either be traumatic or surgical. Surgical amputation is done when a limb is extremely damaged while traumatic amputation occurs when a very high force tears the limb. Surgical amputations are very common among cyclists who have been involved in accidents. An impact from a vehicle can crash a leg or an arm or the force can push the rider from the bicycle. It can also occur when the limbs are crashed while landing on a stationary object or the pavement.
Amputations are painful, and there is a complete change in a victim’s life. There are things that the victim undergoes that require professionals in different disciplines. Permanent disfigurement or disability may cause the victim to slide into depression, have a lot of anger, and low self-esteem. Dealing with all these challenges will require a professional psychology counselor to help him/her through.
Many changes occur in a victim’s life like a change of job and loss of normalcy among others. Still, an amputee may possibly regain his/her day-to-day function by having a prosthetic limb, but some prosthetics may require maintenance and periodic replacement.
For a cyclist, a small impact with a vehicle can cause a severe neck injury. The cyclist’s head is tossed forward then backward or from side to side. Then the second impact with the ground, another vehicle or a stationary object can inflict even more trauma on the victim’s neck. Sprains and strains of the cervical spine can be caused by trauma and twisting, and when the impact is intense, ligament, discs, muscles, tendons, nerves, and bones can be injured.
- Muscles. The most mobile part of the spine is the neck, but even with the benefits of its ability to move, it is prone to injuries from strains. These soft tissue injuries (strains) damage ligaments and muscles. The victims will experience sharp pain and stiffness and loss of range of motion when moving the head.
- Bones and nerves. Cervical bones can be fractured after a bicycle accident. The victim experiences severe pain at the location of the fracture. Conservative treatment will be sufficient in most cases, but surgery is done to relieve pressure from the fracture in the spinal nerve and the spinal cord.
- Tendons. When a bicyclist suffers a cervical sprain, his/her neck ligaments and structures that connect the spinal bones (cervical vertebrae) has suffered damage. A cervical sprain is a more severe condition compared to a strain.
- Discs and nerves. A spinal disc is a structure made of cartilage and is found between each cervical vertebra. The discs have a jelly-like substance within them that absorb shock when we walk or run. Trauma as a result of a bicycle accident can cause the discs to be dislocated or even protrude. When a disc protrudes, there is a leakage of the jelly-like substance which puts pressure on the spinal cord and spinal nerves. In the case of dislocated or protruding cervical spine disc, the victim is likely to experience periods of numbness, weakness, and tingling in the affected area.
A displaced disk might be treated with chiropractic treatment, but for most herniated discs, surgery is in order followed by extensive rehab. The victim will experience discomfort and residual pain and probably carry hardware in his/her spine for the rest of his/her life.
An impact may push a bicyclist off his/her bicycle and cause him/her to slide. The rider might even be dragged by a vehicle onto the abrasive road surface and the friction may cause serious skin damage. The damages come in the form of scrapes, which are commonly called road rash. Foreign objects such as rocks, motor oil, and dirt may enter the victim’s body through the wounds. The most commonly affected body parts of a bicyclist include:
- Outside of the legs and thighs
- Face, chin, and nose
- The shoulders, arms, and hands
Road rash injuries are traumatic and painful. They are categorized at three levels, i.e., first, second, and third-degree abrasions.
- First degree: Is a minor abrasion. The scraped part of the skin appears reddish in color. First-degree road rash may not require professional medical treatment though having a doctor check you is important in case there is an internal injury.
- Second degree: Here, the skin will be broken and the foreign bodies can enter the wound. Foreign bodies should be flashed to prevent possible infections. The victim will be required to apply an antibiotic ointment for a week to 10 days.
- Third degree: With third-degree road rash, the skin, muscles, and nerves are damaged. This is the most serious road rash because the abrasion penetrates all layers of the skin. It can be so deep that the bone and muscles are clearly visible. If foreign bodies enter the wound, the likelihood of infections is high. The possibility of undergoing skin grafting and reconstructive surgery is high.
You are entitled to seek bicycle accident compensation benefits if you have these injuries. You are required to prove that another party had a duty of care not to injure you, but they failed to observe their duty, thereby causing the bicycle accident. Furthermore, you suffered damages as a result of the accident.
You are also required to file the personal injury lawsuit within four years from the date of the accident. Otherwise, you won’t be able to seek compensation for damages caused by the specific accident. Benefits that you can get are classified under economic and non-economic damages, and your personal injury lawyer will help you in seeking compensation for these damages.
Find a Personal Injury Attorney Near Me
If you are in Jacksonville, Florida, and looking for a personal injury attorney for a bicycle accident, get in touch with the Jacksonville Personal Injury Attorney by calling 904-800-7557. We are here to help you by evaluating your accident, the damages, and the extent of injuries caused, and help you file a lawsuit in civil court. Call us for personalized service today.