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Georgia Law: Kids’ Must Wear Bike Helmets

Bicycle riders, like motorcycle enthusiasts, often resist wearing a helmet when riding. As we will explore in this post, statistics show that wearing a helmet can reduce injury. First, as Gwinnett County bicycle accident lawyers, we pay close attention to what the law requires. Georgia law only requires that children under the age of 16 wear a helmet. However, those over the age of 16 are not required to do so. Although there is no criminal penalty for a young person not wearing a helmet arguably, parents might be held responsible for failing to equip their child with a helmet.

Several years ago, a Centers for Disease Control study on bicycle accidents revealed that leads than half of riders wear helmets when riding. Since there are an average of about 1,000 fatalities and about 500,000 emergency room visits related to bicycle injuries, we think it is wise to explore the reasons why helmets should be considered.

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If you talk with a long time motorcycle rider, you will likely hear the great passion many share for the open road. Many riders find their most peaceful moments taking their bikes out on a stretch of rural road, a mountain that has broad vistas and few people. Whether it is the North Atlanta Lake Run or the Lumpkin Loop, which are among the many Sunday morning rides featured in our state, Georgia motorcycle riders have many options for wonderful open road rides. Most riders agree that their motorcycles bring them fun and relaxation. Whether riding on the open road or on a busy highway, motorcyclists are more vulnerable to accident or injury and sometimes that injury includes what is called Traumatic Brain Injury or TBI.

In some motorcycle accidents, TBI’s can be less severe or avoided by wearing a helmet. Although some riders prefer to ride without a helmet, this is not the law in our state. Under Georgia law, motorcycle riders and operators must wear a helmet. In addition, eye protection must be worn if the motorcycle is not equipped with a windshield. Our law is intended to protect riders from injury. Even with a helmet, some bike accidents result in TBI due to the nature of the crash, the velocity of the vehicles involved and sometimes the road itself. Traumatic brain injury can result from many types of motorcycle crashes including intersection accidents and highway accidents. TBI’s can differ both in severity and in prognosis and can vary from mild, to moderate to severe. A mild TBI can still be debilitating. It can cause serious symptoms that interfere with daily life such as headache, dizziness and confusion. More severe TBI can result in long term challenges such as changes in cognitive and physical function. Continue reading

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This time of year we begin to see the impact of summer storms and hurricanes. These storms bring with them the risk of winds, flooding and other challenges. They often cause tragic loss of life in unexpected and often preventable ways. In the recent past, there have been severe and life-changing injuries sustained by those who have been struck by trees during storms. One of the most well-known and tragic is that of Georgia’s beloved Tripp Halstead who suffered a traumatic brain injury at the age of two after he was struck by a tree limb while playing at his daycare center. Tripp’s family, friends and the entire community across the globe, prayed for his recover. He became such an inspiration during his fight, that in his passing the Washington Post, Newsweek, People and other major publications wrote about him.

This little boy fought so hard for life. He had many surgeries and truly was an inspiration to so many people around the world. Our hearts are with the family and friends of this little boy who taught us so much. He lost that battle last month. His young life serves as a reminder of the fragility of life and the gift of love and strength.

Because the dangers of falling tree limbs this time of year are so prevalent, it is important to remember the things that property owners should do to ensure the trees around their properties are safe. Checking trees for disease, over-crossed branches and proper pruning so that the wind can pass through the tree are all maintenance issues that should be addressed. It is very important that property owners remove dead or damaged tree limbs. The Tree Care Industry Association advocates using a trained arborist to identify these and remove dangerous tree limbs as the best approach. Homeowners might miss issues or make matters worse.

Published on: years ago, we posted about an Atlanta couple who suffered fatal carbon monoxide poisoning after unknowingly leaving their car ignition on due to a keyless ignition. Their vehicle was a Toyota. Their adult children filed a wrongful death action after their deaths. This is only one of many such deaths and injuries caused by keyless cars. Many are aware that keyless vehicles can make it difficult for drivers to know when the vehicle ignition is off before they close the garage door and enter their homes. A keyless fob makes it possible to walk away from a running vehicle that spews dangerous toxic fumes.

The New York Times has recently published a lengthy piece about this potentially tragic convenience. As many readers know, keyless ignitions are more and more common. Carrying around a fob, rather than a key that turns the vehicle ignition on and off seems like a great improvement since turning a knob or pushing a button is all the driver needs to do to start or stop the ignition. Many newer vehicles in America are keyless. This combined with engines that are much less noisy can be a deadly, particular with older users.

When the ignition remains on in an enclosed garage, the carbon monoxide build up in a garage attached to home can become lethal and has caused death and injury. Carbon monoxide can cause serious brain damage. Carbon monoxide has no color or odor. The gas deprives vital organs, including the brain, of oxygen. Carbon monoxide poisoning may not be fatal if the victims are found early, prior to losing consciousness. But even if a person is saved from this, brain damage can result and cause victims to require lifelong care and support.

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New Focus on Soccer and Brain Injury

In our recent posts, we shared information about the most common causes of brain injury. These include, falls, motor vehicle accidents and sports injuries. More and more information and research is being published on the most publicized issue with sports and brain injury — those injuries suffered by NFL players. This important work has shed new light on the incidence in professional football players of what is called chronic traumatic encephalopathy or CTE. CTE is now considered a major risk for these athletes, in varying degrees. Depending on the position played, CTE is a degenerative brain disease which is caused by many hits to the head over time. For example, those players in more heavy contact positions have more evidence of this disease than a kicker.

A recent article in Wired magazine exposes concussion concerns the other sport that is now played by millions of kids across America, soccer. There was was a time when “English football” was relatively unknown in our country. But now, most kids are exposed to soccer and play it from the time they are very small children often into adulthood. Its a great game and it gets our kids outside and running, which is wonderful exercise. But soccer also can result in head impact both through player contact and heading the ball and in soccer there are no helmets.

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Sports Injuries and Concussion 

As we continue our series on leading causes of traumatic brain injury, in this post we discuss sports injuries. Athletics for kids and adults has become integral to our lives. Americans are more active than ever with various types of sports including ice hockey, cheerleading, basketball, football, soccer and cycling. Each of these sports has its joys and each of them can result in concussion.

The National Safety Council has noted that every ninety seconds somewhere in the United States a child is being treated for a concussion that has resulted from a sports activity. In basketball and soccer, girls are about five percent more likely to have a concussion than boys. Those studying kids’ sports concussions have not yet determined why girls are statistically more likely to suffer a concussion than boys. This could be related to biomechanics or could be due to some other reason, but the answer is not known. Although more high school level kids are more likely to have a concussion than younger kids, the numbers are increasing for younger kids.

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Motor Vehicle Accidents and TBI

As noted in our prior post, falls are the most common cause of Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). The other major causes of TBI are motor vehicle crashes and sports injuries. In this post, we take a look at the TBI’s that often occur in vehicle crashes. Although many motor vehicles, particularly passenger vehicles, have more safety features than ever before, passenger cars, motorcycles, bicycles, trucks and buses traverse our roads together and when they collide, very serious crash injuries can occur, including brain injuries. Even in pedestrian accidents which are on the rise, brain injury can occur. Despite air bags, collision warning systems and other advancements in vehicle technologies, serious and fatal accidents continue to be a major health problem in our country.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have published studies involving the impact of all causes, including motor vehicle crashes, in which TBI has become the  so-called “silent epidemic.” The CDC has estimated that about 1.7 million TBI’s occur annually. Over 50,000 of these injuries are ultimately fatal. A more chilling statistic is that across the population, motor vehicle crashes are the second leading cause of TBI about 18 percent, but the highest percentage of TBI fatalities over 30%. The overall cost of these injuries is estimated to be about $60 billion.

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Falls Are the Leading Cause of TBI

Traumatic Brain Injury or TBI is a serious and increasing health issue in America. There are several leading causes of TBI’s, the most common of which is falls. That might get you thinking about how best to protect yourself from this life changing injury. After falls, other top causes of Traumatic Brain Injury include motor vehicle accidents and sports or recreation injuries. These TBI causes can result in various types of brain injuries, which we will discuss in another post. We take a look at each of these causes in separate posts and why and how they most commonly occur.

There are many reasons why people fall. In general, the elderly are most at risk for falling and ending up with the brain injury. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in three persons over the age of 65 will fall on an annual basis. Although these falls can result in hip fractures or bone breaks, they often result in a traumatic brain injury. In those instances, the individual may need special care due to their age. TBI in the elderly can manifest in such things as agitation and dementia symptoms as well.

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What is Concussion?

In recent years, concussion has become a much more familiar word to many. There is much more awareness about this type of injury than there was even five years ago. This is perhaps due to news about concussion in the National Football League which has implemented concussion protocols to protect players from getting on the field after suffering a concussion. The feature film Concussion brought awareness to this type of injury and its long term effects on football players. According to the Centers for Disease Control here in Atlanta, the leading cause of concussion are falls which are more likely to occur with children and the older population. Statistically, motor vehicle accidents are the third leading cause of concussion and about one-third of the concussions that result from motor vehicle crashes result in the patient’s death.

What is concussion and why is it important to understand? Concussion is a form of Traumatic Brain Injury or TBI. TBI’s can result from a blow to the head which might happen in a fall or a vehicle accident right here in Gwinnett County. Some might recall the tragic head injury that caused the death of Liam Neeson’s wife Natasha Richardson. She fell skiing and sustained a blow to her head. The severity of her injuries were not immediately obvious. She even signed a document at the ski resort that said she did not need help. But within a fairly short period of time, she went into a coma and by the time she arrived at hospital, she had to be put on life support. Her brain was severely bruised. She had an epidural hematoma which caused swelling in her brain. This was the result of what seemed to be a minor blow to her head.

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In our dedication to staying informed about the latest developments in traumatic brain injury recovery, we recently came across a chilling story. Nearly three million people suffer a traumatic brain injury (TBI) each year in our country. Some of these injuries are caused by things like auto crashes and other accidents. Sometimes these injuries are due to the negligence of others. There are many health care and research institutions around the country that are dedicated to this area of medicine. Here in Atlanta, we are fortunate to have the Shepherd’s Center which treats patients who have suffered brain injury.

After a TBI, victims need specialized care. Having a medical team with depth of knowledge and understanding of the latest developments can make a big difference in the prognosis for the injured person.
If one can imagine suffering a complex injury in a city with the support that is needed, this would be the story of injury and support.

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