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Brain Injuries Are Common In Bicycle Accidents

Cyclist lying on the road and holding his head, helmet in foreground.

Bicycle accidents pose a significant risk of life-threatening injuries, particularly head and brain injuries, which can drastically alter an individual's personality, mobility, and overall quality of life. In the aftermath of a bicycle accident, victims often grapple with these devastating injuries that can have lasting repercussions. Unfortunately, many of these accidents are caused by negligent drivers and are preventable.

If you've suffered a traumatic brain injury in a Chicago bicycle accident, you need to understand your legal rights and options for seeking compensation. Our Chicago bicycle accident lawyers at Keating Law Offices can help you navigate the process and fight for the justice you deserve.

The Prevalence of Brain Injuries in Bicycle Accidents

The U.S. Federal Highway Administration and the National Safety Council reveal alarming statistics about head and brain injuries among cyclists, including:

  • High Fatality Rates: Between 70% and 80% of all fatal bicycle crashes involve head injuries, highlighting the life-threatening nature of these incidents and the importance of drivers sharing the road with cyclists.
  • Impact on Non-Fatal Injuries: A significant portion of non-fatal bicycle injuries, approximately one-third, affect the head. Even in cases where fatalities are avoided, head injuries can have long-term consequences for victims.
  • Vulnerability of Adults: While children are often perceived as being at higher risk, adults also face a significant danger of fatality in bicyclist vs. motor vehicle crashes.
  • Heightened Risk for Children: Children under the age of 14 are particularly vulnerable, with statistics showing that they are five times more likely to be injured in bicycle accidents.
  • Persistent Concern Despite Helmet Use: Despite the protective benefits of helmets, the risk of brain injuries in bicycle accidents remains a serious concern. While helmets can mitigate some of the risks, they do not eliminate the possibility of head trauma entirely. Again, this is why drivers must be vigilant and share the road with cyclists.

Common Brain Injuries Sustained in Bicycle Accidents

Bicycle accidents often result in serious brain injuries, some of which have long-term consequences. They typically include:


A concussion is a type of head injury caused by a blow to the head or body, a fall, or another injury that jars or shakes the brain inside the skull. This type of injury doesn't always produce immediate symptoms. However, people with concussions often experience headaches, confusion, dizziness, and memory loss. Concussions often vary in severity but always require medical attention to ensure proper recovery. Treatment includes physical and cognitive rest, pain medication, and a gradual return to activities.


A contusion is a bruise in the brain caused by a direct impact to the head. This can lead to swelling and bleeding. Contusions require prompt medical evaluation and sometimes surgery to alleviate pressure on the brain. Cyclists who sustain contusions may experience headaches, loss of consciousness, confusion and disorientation, seizures, and other serious cognitive issues.

Skull Fractures

Skull fractures occur when the bone of the skull cracks or breaks. Depending on the severity, skull fractures can lead to brain injuries if pieces of bone penetrate the brain tissue. Symptoms include swelling, bleeding, and visible deformities on the head. Skull fractures often require surgery and ongoing physical and cognitive therapy to recover. In severe cases, damage from a skull fracture can be permanent.

Diffuse Axonal Injury

This type of injury involves tearing the brain's long connecting nerve fibers (axons), which happens when the brain is injured as it shifts and rotates inside the skull. This can disrupt nerve communication and lead to a loss of function or even coma. Treatment often involves stabilization and preventing a second or subsequent injury. Patients may experience various long-term effects, including cognitive, physical, and behavioral/emotional changes. Long-term care may involve ongoing therapy and support services.


Hematomas are blood clots that can form inside the skull due to ruptured blood vessels. These can be epidural (between the skull and the dura mater), subdural (between the dura mater and the brain), or intracerebral (within the brain itself). Hematomas can increase pressure inside the skull, causing symptoms like headache, drowsiness, confusion, and seizures. Emergency treatment (and possibly surgery) is often necessary to remove the clot.

Coup-Contrecoup Injuries

These injuries occur when the force of impact causes the brain to slam into the opposite side of the skull. They cause injuries at the site of impact and on the completely opposite side of the brain, which can lead to contusions in both areas. This type of injury may require stabilization, monitoring, and, in severe cases, surgery.

Injured Cyclists Can Count on Keating

Despite wearing helmets and other protective gear, cyclists remain vulnerable to head injuries in bicycle accidents because of negligent drivers. If you or a loved one has suffered a brain injury in a Chicago-area bicycle accident due to the actions of a negligent driver, our law firm is here to protect your rights. You deserve compensation for your losses, and we can help you fight for it.

We are avid cyclists deeply embedded in Chicago's cycling community. We actively support bike advocacy groups and sponsor various road bike and cyclocross races throughout Illinois. Attorney Michael Keating is a renowned legal authority on cyclists' rights in Illinois, serving as the Chair of the American Association of Justice's Bicycle Litigation Committee.

With extensive experience, Mike has been a featured speaker on bicycle law at legal seminars and has published numerous articles on bike safety in legal journals. Recognized as a leading expert in bicycle law, Mike has been sought after for interviews by major news networks and print publications, including NBC, ABC, FOX, CBS, the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and the Chicago Daily Law Bulletin.

Our team of bicycle accident attorneys is deeply passionate about the law and dedicated to promoting bicycling safety. We stand ready to support you throughout your recovery and understand what it takes to hold negligent drivers accountable. If you have any questions regarding your claim, contact us online or at 833-CALL-KLO to schedule a free consultation.

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