Facial Fractures in Bicycling Accidents
The Chicago Bicycle Accident Attorneys of Zneimer & Zneimer, P.C., recommend the use of helmets for all bicyclists, however we also remind cyclists that helmets do not make you invincible to other types of head and facial injuries. While helmets undoubtedly protect against the risk of injury in the event of an accident, many fail to consider the limiting nature of a helmet, in that it is intended to protect the skull only. The delicate structure of the human face, which is not intended to withstand substantial impact, and for which a helmet offers little protection to, remains vulnerable to significant injury in the unfortunate occurrence of a bicycling accident.
Because the nose protrudes beyond other facial structures, one of the most common facial injuries in bicycling accidents is to the nasal area. Not only is a broken or fractured nose extremely painful, the consequence of such injury is often disfigurement in the form of the nose having a crooked or bent appearance. The more troubling consequence, however, is what can occur to the structures that lie beneath. Perforation or Deviation of the nasal septum, which is the area that divides the nostrils, can cause various problems, such as obstruction in breathing passageways. In severe cases, sleep apnea can occur. A fractured or broken nose can also result in reoccurring sinus issues, caused by improper drainage. Some even report a loss in the sense of smell.
Another common injury of cycling accidents victims is damage to the jaw area. Because, just like the nose, the mandible bone also protrudes, a bicycling accident can cause a broken or dislocated jaw. Teeth are an additional concern. Unless you wear a mouth guard while biking, your teeth can be lost, chipped, or otherwise damaged, as a result of a bicycling accident.
Depending on the circumstances of a particular accident, your landing position or point of impact can play a big role in the extent of facial injuries. If you have been struck by a motor vehicle and are thrown from your bike, you may strike that vehicle, another vehicle, or a nearby object. The facial structure is comprised of several bones aside from the jaw and nasal area, and these too can be broken or fractured in a bicycling accident. These injuries may require facial reconstructive surgery.
Even where the facial bones have not been broken or fractured, bicycling accidents commonly result in scratches, lacerations, and burns caused by skidding on a paved surface. The immediate concern of such injuries is obtaining proper medical treatment to avoid the risk of infection. However, there are future concerns as well. Accident victims have reported that debris, such as rocks or glass, remain underneath the skin far after the occurrence of an accident.
In some cases, debris may eventually work its way out, however, there is the additional risk for future infection. In other cases, future surgery may be required to remove remaining fragments. Yet another concern is scarring. It is not uncommon for what seems to be a simple scratch or laceration, to cause significant scarring, even though the injury did not require stitches following the accident.
While injury to a victim’s facial structures can physically and emotionally devastating, such injuries are often survivable, so long as the skull and brain are protected with the use of a helmet. As Accident and Injury attorneys, certainly a facial fracture would be the lesser of two evils chosen when considering fatality as the alternative.
Although there is no statewide law in Illinois requiring bicyclists to use a helmet while biking, several cities have implemented ordinances governing helmet use for minors, such as Skokie, Inverness, Cicero and Barrington. Additionally, bicycling messengers of all ages within the city of Chicago are required to wear a helmet. Regardless of whether helmet use is required, out bike injury lawyers take note of the fact that helmets can and do save lives.
If you were involved in a bicycling accident, it is best to err on the side of caution, and seek medical treatment immediately following the accident. If injuries have been sustained, you can protect your legal rights by obtaining a consultation with an Illinois licensed Bicycle Accident Attorney.