Article by David Chester Ohio Motorcycle Accident Lawyer
Any motorcycle injury attorney will tell you that if you want to ride a motorcycle, for sport or as a means to get around, you should wear a helmet while riding for your own personal safety.
Decades ago, studies were done by the National Safety Commission proving that head trauma, one of the most serious of all kinds of motorcycle injury that were medically documented, were reduced significantly when the rider was using a helmet.
Based on the results of that study, the majority of states adopted laws requiring that helmets be worn by all motorcycle riders as a requirement for getting their license to ride. Unfortunately, in the new millennium, that attitude is changing and not for the better.
Can wearing a helmet cause a spinal cord injury?
Attorneys know that these days, anyone can get a study documented that can potentially skew the results in their favor and lobbyists are no exception.
Supposed studies have surfaced in recent years, that have created a popular myth that states that wearing a helmet can actually cause a motorcycle rider to receive a previous unheard of motorcycle injury, that of suffering a spinal cord injury because you are wearing the law required helmet that is too heavy to avoid such a motorcycle injury.
As you can probably surmise, not only did this study surprise the average motorcycle injury lawyer, it also caused state legislators to rethink the viability of continuing to impose state laws requiring motorcycle riders to wear helmets.
These lobbyists, who later turned out to be backed by organized activists who had opposed these laws all along, were rewarded for their efforts within a few years, when state after state repealed the helmet laws, citing this study as proof that helmets did nothing to protect the rider from ever getting a motorcycle injury.
Does a Johns Hopkins study on wearing a helmet disprove the lobbyist findings?
Originally, for nearly forty years almost all 50 states required that riders wear helmets to prevent the rider from receiving any potentially lethal head injury or trauma.
To the dismay of many motorcycle safety advocates everywhere, today only 20 out of 50 states still have that requirement on their books.
The lobbyists were so convincing that quite a few motorcycle accident law firms no longer even consider filing suit if the rider wore a helmet.
Ridiculous, but true. Unless another study was financed to confirm or disapprove the lobbyists’ claims, there was not much hope that the states would revoke their repeals, a hope that seemed pretty dismal till a few years ago.
With motorcycle riding on the rise, their numbers nearly doubled over the last decade, so did the motorcycle injury statistics continue to grow.
Finally, it was announced that surgeons at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine would be reopening the debate through a study of their own. They went through volumes of data as well as testimonies gathered at the Congressional hearings the lobbyists attended as the basis for their research. The results of their study were published on the Internet in 2007.
What were the Johns Hopkins’ study results on wearing helmets?
After studying evidence presented by the lobbyists in favor of repealing helmet laws, and sifting through data collected by the National Trauma Databank from 2002 through 2006, researchers at Johns Hopkins concluded that that helmets significantly reduced not only cranial injuries, which we all knew already but also reduced the number of spinal cord injuries by as much as 22%, a notion completely contrary to the findings of the study sponsored by the lobbyists.
The study results, published in an article showcased in The Journal of the American College of Surgeons, showed that the number of any motorcycle injuries related to the spine, especially cervical spine injuries, as cited by the lobbyists, was based on a twenty-five year old study that was originally done in the early eighties.
That study stated that because riders were wearing a helmet, the weight of that helmet added to the risk that the rider would suffer a motorcycle injury that would cause significant torque that could be devastating to the spine. The Johns Hopkins study, on the other hand, proved undeniably that riders who wore their helmets were 22% less likely to receive a motorcycle injury involving the spine, when compared to those who did not wear their helmets.
See this updated study done released 2-8-2011, Motorcycle Helmets Reduce Spine Injuries After Collisions; Helmet Weight as Risk to Neck Called a ‘Myth’.
Motorcycle accident attorneys now have that data to support their claims.
The fact is, the study that got helmet laws repealed was way out of date and based on the weight of helmets as they were when that study was originally done.
To prove liability in any court, an attorney needs reliable and more importantly provable data to support your claim. Thanks to Johns Hopkins University, motorcycle accident lawyers such as Chester Law now have that data to support their claims.
Armed with the new data, an opposing group of lobbyists are now working hard to get the helmet laws reinstated in those states that repealed it.
Now your motorcycle accident attorney has a wealth of statistical data at his disposal to refute any claim that would deny your rights as a victim of a motorcycle accident, should you ever need it.
Technology has advanced enough that everyone is now well protected, as long as they wear the helmet, as it is designed. No matter how plausible a claim can be, the truth will always come out and urban myths get busted.
The simple truth is that yes in some devastating high impact accidents a person will die or suffer brain injury with or without a helmet, but for the most motorcycle accidents, helmets do help! Be smart where your helmet.