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Even when a bicyclist is wearing a helmet, he or she can suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) in an accident. Although California law requires every cyclist under the age of 18 to wear a helmet, those helmets only reduce the chances of a serious brain injury by about 40 percent. According to the American Journal of Surgery, more than 50 percent of all bicyclists have suffered a TBI after a bike accident. One study performed by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration concluded that the chances of a TBI increase dramatically when a person rides a bicycle at night or rides in urban areas with heavy traffic

TBIs don’t require a blow to the head

When a motor vehicle is involved in an accident with a bicycle, the cyclist can be catapulted from the bike onto the street. He or she might even collide with another vehicle or a stationary object. Although most TBIs involve a blow to the head, a person’s head need not hit anything at all in order to suffer such an injury. The force of a motor vehicle impacting the rider or their bike can cause the rider’s brain to crash into the hard interior of the skull and damage their brain. A helmet might serve its intended purpose once the rider ends up on the pavement, but a severe brain injury might have occurred two or three seconds earlier.

TBI symptoms

TBIs can have profound and wide ranging consequences that are often permanent for a victim. Those can include but certainly not be limited to:

  • Cognitive difficulties involving concentration and memory
  • Speech and comprehension difficulties
  • Sensory deficits involving touch, temperature variations, posture and coordination
  • Double vision, blurred vision, impaired depth perception
  • Loss of control of the bladder and bowel
  • Emotional instability


The extent of a TBI determines whether a lifetime of medical and personal care will be required for a person. These injuries can be financially and emotionally devastating for victims and their families. They might even result in an untimely death. Damages can include:

  • Past medical bills and medical bills reasonably expected to be incurred in the future
  • Lost earnings and earnings reasonably expected to be lost in the future
  • Any permanent disfigurement
  • Any permanent disability
  • Pain and suffering
  • Loss of a normal life
  • Funeral and burial costs in the event of a wrongful death

The right to cycle safely

Remember that California law clearly states that bicyclists have the same rights on the roads as motorists have. Some motorists don’t respect those rights, and others never see the bicycle or don’t see it until it’s too late. In some bicycle accidents, road conditions are the cause of a crash. Potholes, sinkholes, repair materials and gravel have all caused or contributed to bike crashes.


Frequently Asked Questions

What if I have permanent brain damage from an auto accident?

If you were injured due to someone’s negligence and you suffered permanent brain damage, then you are entitled to all medical treatments, physical and cognitive rehabilitation, and loss of quality of life. These are just a few and the insurance company for the at-fault driver will have to pay any reasonable losses that resulted from the injury.

What if I suffered a brain injury and wasn’t wearing my helmet?

The law requires anyone under 18 to wear a helmet while riding a bicycle on California streets. However, a violation of criminal law doesn’t automatically mean you are negligent in a civil case. The law looks at which party was at fault, and if the driver was negligent, then he or she will have to pay for your injuries even if you weren’t wearing a helmet.

Is there a time limit on settling a brain injury personal injury case?

There is no time limit on settling any personal injury case, however, if the case isn’t settled within two years, the victim will need to file their claim before two years from the date of injury has passed. If they don’t, then there is a chance that their right to compensation will be forfeited.

Contact Bay Area Bicycle Law

Whether your bicycle crash was attributable to another motorist or road conditions, don’t hesitate to contact us about your TBI or the TBI of a family member.
We are the only firm in San Francisco and Northern California to specialize exclusively in representing bicyclists.
We offer free consultations and case evaluations, and we’ll carefully assess liability and damages in your case. It’s better to talk with us sooner than later, especially if your case involves dangerous road conditions and a government entity. Strict claim notice provisions might apply, and you’ll want to serve a timely and proper notice.