Motorcycle riders are particularly vulnerable on our roadways due to their small size and lack of exterior safety. More than 80 percent of all reported motorcycle crashes result in injury or death to the motorcyclist.
The most common injuries from motorcycle accidents are:
Road Rash and Disfigurement
Road rash is a common injury among motorcycle riders. This injury occurs when skin makes contact with the road at high speeds. The resulting injury often leaves scars and disfigures a rider.
Road rash isn’t fatal. However, some riders will suffer emotional damage due to permanent scarring or disfigurement. Riders who suffer road rash may also experience:
Minor road rash affects the top layers of skin (epidermis and dermis) and heals in a couple of weeks. Road rash that affects deep tissue requires a longer healing process.
Road rash can become infected throughout the healing process. Daily care is required to ensure best results and to mitigate scaring. It’s advised to see a doctor. A tetanus shot may be recommended.
Bone fractures, or broken bones, are also common motorcycle injuries. A bone fracture occurs when excessive pressure or blunt force changes the shape of bone—usually a break, crack, or shatter.
Falling riders extend their arms to protect themselves resulting in broken wrists and arms. Foot and leg fractures are also common among riders.
Recovery after a broken bone depends on the age and health of the rider.
According to the Insurance Information Institute, older riders sustain more serious injuries compared to young riders. In addition to reduced vision and reaction times, older riders are more likely to suffer broken bones and have longer recovery periods.
Bone fractures take anywhere from six to twelve weeks to heal, sometimes longer, depending on the type of fracture (i.e., open or compound, hairline, comminuted, etc.).
During recovery, daily activities may be limited and some people may require help with things like transportation, bathing, and cooking. Some people may need time away from work or limited work duties because of their condition.
Head injuries are common among motorcyclists, especially in states that don’t have strict helmet laws.
Florida, for example, does not currently enforce a universal helmet law. Instead, riders age 21 and over can elect to ride without a helmet if they carry at least $10,000 in medical insurance coverage. Unfortunately, even with a helmet, head injuries are still common.
Head injuries range from minor concussions to traumatic head injuries (TBI). While concussions are usually minor and only require a few weeks rest, TBIs are can result in a multitude of problems for victims including:
- Increased intracranial pressure—swelling of the brain can cause further injury.
- Neurochemical problems—disruption of brain chemistry, which can affect the chemical substances that communicate within the central nervous system.
- Natural plasticity—the brain’s ability to change and adapt with time.
Recovery from a head injury can take years, depending on how serious the damage is. Moreover, TBIs can result in significant physical and cognitive disabilities, limiting a person’s ability to work and enjoy activities.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Motorcyclists who suffer a spinal cord injury experience symptoms that range from pain to paralysis. The effects of a spinal cord injury depend largely on the location and severity of the injury.
Paralysis, the inability to move or feel sensation, is a common symptom among spinal cord injury victims.
Injuries high on the neck or spine can result in paralysis of the arms and legs, while injuries below the neck may only affect the abdomen and legs, partially or completely.
Paralysis often leads to other health complications including:
- Respiratory problems
- Loss of bladder/bowel control
- Chronic pain
- Circulatory problems
- Spastic muscles
- Sexual dysfunction
A spinal cord injury can significantly change a person’s life: gainful employment may be limited or not possible, and the person’s quality of life can suffer immensely.
If you or a loved one has suffered a motorcycle injury because of someone else’s negligence or reckless behavior, compensation may be available to cover:
- Medical bills
- Medical equipment (e.g., wheelchairs, respiratory equipment, etc.)
- Lost wages / loss of earning potential
- Pain and suffering
- Wrongful death