During the Covid 19 pandemic, we have seen a rise in people abandoning their cars and public transport in favour of bicycles as their preferred mode of transport to work. Last year, the Government encouraged this by offering a £2 billion package to ‘create a new era for cycling and walking’. The aim is to reduce the stress on public transport, encourage better health habits and help with the green initiative.
At the same time, however, unfortunately, we are seeing a record number of cyclist casualties and fatalities. Cyclists are classified as “vulnerable road users” for good reason given that even with the best protective gear, in a crash with a car or a lorry, the cyclist is likely to suffer catastrophic or even fatal injuries.
A common injury that cyclists suffer as a result of a collision is a spinal fracture, sometimes resulting in damage to their spinal cord. Spinal cord injuries are very serious and can result in paralysis. The primary symptoms of spinal injury include loss of movement or altered sensation, loss of bowel or bladder control, changes in sexual function, intense pain caused by nerve damage and muscle spasms.
Spinal cord injuries are associated with a risk of developing secondary conditions. Such conditions include deep vein thrombosis, urinary complications such as incontinence and respiratory complications.
There is consistent medical research published which concludes that wearing a helmet reduces the risk of severe brain injury and death. In a 2019 study published in British Medical Journal (Dodds N, Johnson R, Walton B) 47.6% of patients who were not wearing a helmet sustained a severe traumatic brain injury, compared to 19.1% of the patients who were wearing a helmet. What the evidence clearly shows, however, is that the wearing of a helmet whilst cycling does not eliminate the risk of traumatic brain injury and death.
The severity of the brain injury that a cyclist might sustain during an accident can vary from mild to severe, but both can have life-changing effects for the victim.
Those who suffer from severe traumatic brain injury may have every aspect of their life permanently affected. For example, they may suffer from physical impairment to many bodily functions such as movement, speech, smell, taste, sight, and hearing.
They may also suffer from impaired cognitive function. The symptoms might include diminished attention span, impaired decision making, lack of impulse control, trouble concentrating, memory lapses and confusion. Impairment to cognitive function can also in some cases deprive the injured person of the capacity to manage their own financial and legal affairs.
Brain injury can also affect the emotional state of the injured person resulting in anxiety, apathy, aggression, depression personality changes or Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.
If the cyclist loses consciousness because of the collision, this can increase their risk of suffering from post-traumatic epilepsy later.
Specialist legal advice
The process of claiming compensation in cases involving serious injury should centre around the rehabilitation needs of the injured person. The most appropriate consultants must be instructed to comment on those needs. This will include therapy, care, social, vocational and accommodation requirements.
Every aspect of the injured person’s disability should be carefully examined and addressed so that at the end of the process, the compensation can offer them the best quality of life possible and clarity as to the future.
Our specialist serious injury lawyers understand the tragic effect that an injury can have on an individual and their loved ones and we have the expertise and the resolve to ensure that sufficient provision is made to allow our clients the best chance of recovery, independence, and a good quality of life in the future. We act for our clients on a no win no fee basis.
If you or someone you care about has sustained an injury because of an accident, please contact one of our specialist lawyers for a free no-obligation discussion on 0121 355 0011.