Hidden Pain: Unseen injuries after bicycle accidents
Bicycles are a great way to get around a city cheaply, save on gas and vehicle upkeep, and help the environment. They also offer an excellent opportunity to exercise. However, anyone riding a bicycle is more likely to be seriously injured in an accident involving automobiles. Unlike passengers in a car, cyclists wear no seat belts and have no protection from impact. A careless driver who sideswipes or rear-ends a cyclist can cause extreme injuries in a matter of seconds.
A morbid joke says, “It’s easy to survive falling out of a plane. It’s the landing that will get you.” In the same way, the actual collision between a cyclist and the vehicle rarely causes the most injuries. Rather, the majority of the injuries happen when the rider is knocked off their bike and lands hard on pavement or in the path of another vehicle. Even at bicycle speeds, being hit by a car and knocked onto the roadway can cause head injuries, broken bones, and a variety of other serious injuries.
In the aftermath of a bicycle accident, a rider may be most concerned about the most visible injuries: gashes, scrapes, and even broken limbs. Road rash, or scrapes caused when exposed skin is dragged across the surface of the roadway, is an extremely obvious and painful outcome of many bicycle accidents. However, receiving treatment for only the obvious injuries can leave other, long-term injuries untreated.
Superficial and surface damage, like road rash and other contusions, are caused primarily by friction. Fractured bones happen when a joint or limb is contorted in the wrong way and is not strong enough to remain intact. However, most other injuries are the result of sudden deceleration. In a high-speed impact, the accelerative forces on human tissue can briefly be the equivalent of having 100 people stacked on top of you at the same time.
These injuries are sometimes dismissively referred to as “soft tissue” cases by insurance companies and medical providers, but their effects are anything but minor. Muscles, tendons, and ligaments make up around half of the total body weight of most reasonably athletic humans, and so injuries to these body parts produces broad harm that isn’t immediately apparent. An x-ray won’t necessarily show a torn ligament or sprained muscle, but the pain and swelling from such an injury can seriously alter a person’s life and greatly length recovery time.
For these reasons, it is important to seek medical treatment immediately after any bicycle accident, even if there are no visible injuries or broken bones. Often, the adrenaline from the incident will cause a person to miss deeper, underlying injuries that will become more and more painful as time progresses. A physical therapist or orthopaedic specialist can provide more targeted examination and provide treatment to get a person back on their feet after a bicycle accident.
Insurance companies often take advantage of a lack of visible injuries to try and tell a person that he or she isn’t really injured and should accept a small settlement, but this is only to their advantage. If you’ve been injured in a bicycle accident, contact a medical malpractice attorney like Cohen & Cohenimmediately to ensure your rights are protected.