Can I Suffer a Brain Injury While Wearing a Bike Helmet?

Our brain injury lawyers recently discussed the bicycle helmet requirements under BC law  and the related issue of how the failure to wear a helmet while cycling can impact compensation in an ICBC personal injury claim. In this post, our brain injury car accident lawyers will discuss whether it is possible to suffer a brain injury while wearing a bike helmet.

Helmets reduce serious brain injury and fatal head injury

World-wide, studies have routinely shown that bicycle helmet use is associated with reduced risk of fractures and head injuries – particularly serious brain injuries – and also associated with reduced risk of sustaining a fatal head injury in a bike accident.  However, bicycle helmet use does not completely eliminate the risk of a brain injury, even if a cyclist is wearing a properly fitted, top-of-the-line, approved helmet when a bicycle accident occurs – especially if the cyclist is struck by a motor vehicle.

Risk of brain injury despite wearing a bike helmet

While bicycle helmet use reduces the risk of brain injury (especially serious brain injuries and fatal head injuries), the answer to the question posed above is yes – it is certainly still possible to suffer a brain injury while wearing a bike helmet. A traumatic brain injury, which can range from mild  to severe, occurs due to the impact of rapid deceleration, acceleration or a collision. Damage to the brain can be caused by a direct blow to the head, jolting or shaking of the brain against the sides of the skull, or a whiplash-type injury (all of which are frequently caused by the forces involved in bicycle/motor vehicle accidents), and each of these types of brain injury can occur even when a bicycle helmet is being worn. For example, if a cyclist is hit by a car and thrown from their bicycle, a traumatic brain injury can be caused by the jarring force of the impact between the bicycle and the car (particularly in a high-velocity collision), or by the cyclist striking their head on the vehicle or the asphalt – even if the cyclist is wearing a bike helmet.

Can ICBC raise the contributory negligence defence even if I was wearing a helmet?

A cyclist wearing a bicycle helmet who is involved in a collision with a motor vehicle may suffer a brain injury, or sustain a more significant brain injury, if the helmet is not properly fitted properly, not properly worn (e.g. chin strap not fastened), not safety-approved, or had sustained previous damage. Where that is the case, ICBC will attempt to rely on the defence of contributory negligence, arguing that the cyclist’s compensation should be reduced to account for the cyclist’s failure to take reasonable precautions for their own safety.

If you have an ICBC bicycle accident claim against a motorist and a contributory negligence defense is raised, you need to get an experienced personal injury lawyer on your side, as if proven, the defence will have a significant impact on your award of damages. Contact Simpson Thomas & Associates to request a free consultation with one of our experienced brain injury lawyers. To learn more, call (604) 239-2943.

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