Nearly three decades ago Terry Pomatto “lost” her son to a motorcycle accident. Steven Paul Fowler, Terry’s son, suffered a traumatic brain injury while riding his motorcycle when an animal ran into the road in front of him. Unable to stop Steven crashed, killing one passenger, while personally suffering a traumatic brain injury. Steven did not pass away, but his life was never the same. After weeks in a coma, Steven woke up unable to do even the most mundane tasks. “It took months just for him to learn to open his mouth, to chew food, to swallow,” Pomatto said. Steven eventually regained the ability to speak, and eat, but only in a limited capacity, and he was never able to truly function as he was before the accident. Steven never made it out of the nursing home.
Steven’s mother had bought him a helmet a few weeks prior to the accident, but unfortunately Steven was not wearing it when he collided with the wild animal on May 31, 1981. A few days after the accident, Steven’s mother went to his house to pick up a few things and found the helmet sitting on the kitchen table. As a mixture of emotions swelled inside her, Terry picked up the helmet and threw it against the wall.
Steven suffered from a traumatic brain injury. The Mayo Clinic describes a traumatic brain injury as “the result of a sudden, violent blow to the head – which launches the brain on a collision course with the inside of the skull. This collision can bruise the brain, tear nerve fibers and cause bleeding.” Additionally, According to the National Institutes of Health, “half of all traumatic brain injuries are caused by collisions involving cars, motorcycles and bicycles.”
To limit these injuries, it is important for an individual riding his/her motorcycle to wear a helmet at all times. Although a helmet will not completely eliminate the chance of a traumatic brain injury, it can reduce it significantly.
Currently, there is no law in Illinois which requires an individual to wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle. Although there have been attempts to create one in the past, the legislature has never successfully passed a law to such effect.
How many more cases like Stevens’ will it take before Illinois understands the severity of brain injuries? Illinois, after many years of traumatic injury, passed a law in which individuals in motor vehicles had to wear seat belts. I suspect (and hope) that a law requiring the use of helmets for motorcyclists is not too far away. It will save many future families from the heartache and pain suffered by Steven’s family.
Our Chicago accident attorneys at Levin & Perconti recommend that all motorcyclists wear helmets to help avoid potential brain injuries and death. We offer our deepest sympathy to Steven’s family and all other families who have suffered a loss caused by a motorcycle accident.