Know What to Do If Your Child Suffers a Brain Injury While Riding a Bike
There isn’t anything worse than the thought that your child could be injured. You try to do everything you can to keep your little one safe. But, even if you make sure your child always wears a properly-fitted helmet while riding her bike (which is not just critical for safety, it’s also the law in Florida), childhood bike accidents can still leave your child with a traumatic head injury (TBI).
What should you do if you’ve found out your child sustained a brain injury from a bike accident? We offer some answers that question below.
Bike Accidents Involving Children Are Too Frequent in Tampa
As of a few years ago, Florida had the highest bicycle accident death rate in the country. Things haven’t changed much, though some reports have shown a drop in the number of children under age 15 dying in these accidents. Despite that improvement, many Florida children sustain severe injuries on their bikes annually, including TBIs.
Seek Proper Medical Attention for Your Child
When a brain injury results from a cycling accident, the consequences can be devastating and long lasting. It is critical, first and foremost, that you seek and follow proper medical treatment for your child after even a mild TBI. Just sustaining a concussion at a young age can have long-lasting negative effects if not property treated and monitored.
Here’s a rule of thumb: if your child has a bike accident in which he bang, twists, or jolts his head in any direction, take him to a medical provider right away. A child can sustain a concussion or worse even if his helmet doesn’t have a scratch on it. Don’t wait to see whether your child exhibits symptoms of a TBI (loss of consciousness, dizziness, confusion, etc.). Head straight to your regular pediatrician, urgent care center, or a hospital emergency department, for an evaluation.
If your child protests that she feels fine, perhaps explain the importance of seeing a doctor this way: every professional and college sports team has a doctor on the sidelines who is trained in spotting the signs of a TBI immediately. An athlete can’t return to the field of play until they’ve passed a concussion protocol. Your child was “playing” too by riding a bike. The same rules should apply. After all, if those safety rules are good enough for a player from the Bucs or the Gators, they should be good enough for your kiddo too.
If an exam reveals your child has sustained a TBI, follow the medical provider’s advice very strictly. Do not vary from it. The likelihood of sustaining a second brain injury increases after the child has their first one. What’s more, if your child is expected to recover from their TBI, consider yourself lucky. A severe TBI can require hospital stays, emergency surgery, and long-term care.
Consult an Experienced TBI Attorney
After you have obtained adequate medical care for your child, consider speaking with an attorney experienced in representing clients who have sustained a TBI and their families. The purpose for this consultation is to identify which parties, if any, may bear legal responsibility for your child’s injuries. In some cases, that may be obvious, such as if the bike accident involved a collision with a motor vehicle. In others, it may be less so, such as if your child’s bicycle or helmet malfunctioned. Consulting an attorney in all cases can give you peace of mind and clarity about whether pursuing legal action is something you should think about.
Before you have met with an experienced TBI attorney, avoid accepting any “settlement” offered by an insurance company or signing any “waiver” of rights. Insurers may try to take advantage of emotionally upset parents by getting them to take a quick payment that doesn’t come close to compensating their child for the TBI. If you have to interact with an insurance company about your child’s TBI, speak to a lawyer first. In many cases, an attorney may take over communication with the insurance company, to provide a buffer and allow you the time to focus your energies and attention on your child’s recovery.
Have a Plan for Gathering Important Evidence
When your child sustains a TBI, it’s understandable that you’d not think to “gather evidence.” Your first priority is getting your child to a doctor and starting their recovery, and rightly so.
The unfortunate fact is, however, that the sooner you collect evidence of your child’s injury, the higher the probability an attorney may be able to build a case against the parties legally responsible. So, unpleasant as this sounds, we suggest you have plan in advance for what you might do if your child sustains a serious injury while biking/playing, etc. Research on emergency planning shows that just taking the time today to think about what you’d do in an emergency can help you make far better decisions when an emergency actually happens.
In the immediate aftermath of an accident in which your child sustains an injury, there are several key pieces of evidence that could be crucial later: the child’s safety gear, the child’s bike, evidence of the scene of the accident, and witness information. If at all possible, after the accident occurs, make sure you set the gear and bike aside and put them in storage until your lawyer asks to see them. Also, if you can, assign someone to take video/pictures with their smartphone of the scene of the accident, and to gather brief statements and contact information from anyone who witnessed the accident (even other children), just like an investigator from a crime scene investigation show on TV would. Together with your child’s medical records, these pieces of evidence may well prove critical in proving a case against a third party.
Tampa, Florida TBI Lawyers
If your child has sustained a TBI in a cycling accident (or in any other activity, such as school sports or a car accident), you may be entitled to significant compensation to help in your child’s recovery. TBIs can impose long-lasting and devastating challenges on a family. At the Dolman Law Group, we aim to help our clients through those challenges by protecting their legal rights.
Contact the Dolman Law Group online or by phone at (727) 451-6900 today to schedule a free consultation to discuss the facts and circumstances of your child’s TBI.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765