If you’re into sunshine, beautiful scenery, and great gas mileage, the world of motorcycling can be attractive. But, before laying down tens of thousands of dollars on a hog, you should be aware of the risks that come along with this activity.
With motorcycle accidents having doubled in a matter of two decades, and increased accidents particularly pronounced in Southern California, authorities have pushed for more training for riders and have even gone so far as to provide riders with florescent green vests to make them more visible to other motorists. Despite these efforts, the number of deaths and injuries in motorcycle accidents increases at staggering rates.
This piece covers some of the most common injuries associated with motorcycle injuries. If you were injured in an accident that someone else’s carelessness or recklessness caused, you should learn more about your options for obtaining compensation for the expenses and quality-of-life impacts of your injuries. A consultation with an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can provide that.
Why Are Motorcycles Dangerous?
Motorcyclists and their passengers are about 28 times more likely to die in a collision than the occupants of typical passenger vehicles. The seriousness of the injuries sustained by the rider involves the design of the motorcycle itself.
The two-wheeled design poses hazards that include:
- A smaller, slimmer profile with fewer lights than passenger cars, which can cause motorists to experience difficulty seeing the motorcycle, particularly at night.
- Two wheels, rather than four, which make the vehicle less stable on loose gravel, debris, or water; and also make it harder to safely maneuver in emergencies.
- A lack of protective features such as seat belts, airbags, and the ability to be enclosed within the protection of a steel frame, which features accompany passenger vehicles. The missing protective features mean that a rider will likely be ejected from the motorcycle in the event of an accident, with little protection to their body from injuries caused by striking other objects in the area.
- An unusual driving experience, requiring a different driving skill set than other motor vehicles need. Motorcycle riders often lack adequate experience in safely operating the vehicle, resulting in accidents. Accidents due to driver error may occur even among more experienced riders who don’t ride very often and have not kept their riding skills sharp.
Types of Injuries Sustained in Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accidents result in some of the most catastrophic injuries one can incur on the road. Many of these injuries require extensive medical treatment and can even cause permanent disabilities that prevent the rider from working or living independently. While this list is in no way exhaustive when it comes to the type of injuries a rider can suffer, the following are some of the more common and serious injuries involved in motorcycle accidents.
Traumatic Brain Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries occur when the brain becomes damaged by a violent or sudden impact or jolt to the head or body. This type of injury is one of the most common causes of death among the victims of motorcycle accidents.
The brain is responsible for producing all of the body’s voluntary and involuntary responses. Naturally, this makes it an important organ. But the brain is delicate, and its ability to heal after an injury is limited. This means that traumatic brain injuries often result in permanent deficits. Because the brain consists of different segments, each being responsible for controlling different functions of the body, the deficits an individual will incur from traumatic brain injury depend not only on the intensity of the impact, but also the part of the brain that sustains an injury.
- Injury to the frontal lobe may result in problems controlling impulses, emotions, or behavior and can also have trouble recalling events, speaking, or understanding spoken communication.
- Injury to the temporal lobe may result in difficulty with communication and memory.
- Those who suffer an injury to the parietal lobe often experience deficits in their primary senses, including sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch.
- Individuals with injuries to the cerebellum often develop problems with balance and coordinated movement.
- An injury to the occipital lobe may result in problems with vision, including blindness or the inability to perceive the size and shape of objects.
- Injuries to the brain stem may impair functions that are essential to survival, including breathing, heart rate, pulse, and the sleep/wake cycle.
Spinal Cord Injuries
The spinal cord is a bundle of nerves that extends from the base of the skull to the waist area. The bony vertebrae of the spine protect it. Along with the brain, the spinal cord makes up the body’s central nervous system, and its main function is to relay messages from the brain to other parts of the body. Like the brain, the spinal cord only has a limited ability to heal; thus, damage to the spinal cord often results in permanent disability.
The disability most commonly experienced by individuals with spinal cord injuries is a loss of strength, sensation, or function below the injury site, which is also called paralysis. Injuries occurring high up on the spinal cord—in the neck area—can paralyze all the limbs, the torso, hips, pelvis, shoulders, and diaphragm. This is called quadriplegia or tetraplegia. Injuries occurring lower on the cord can result in paralysis of the legs, hips, pelvis, and feet. This is called paraplegia.
Spinal cord injuries not only result in permanent disability, but can lead to other health complications that damage an individual’s life in significant ways or even result in death. Some of these complications include loss of bladder and bowel control; respiratory issues such as pneumonia caused by an inability to cough or clear one’s throat; inability to feel sensations such as hot and cold surfaces that can result in injury; and muscle tone issues that can cause a loss of physical strength.
Because of the lack of protective features on motorcycles, riders are at high risk of breaking bones during an accident. Lower extremity injuries are among the most common injuries suffered in this type of accident, including broken hips, legs, ankles, and feet. It is not unusual for a motorcyclist to suffer broken wrists and arms due to the instinctual response that people have to try to catch themselves when falling.
All motor vehicles contain hazardous and caustic chemicals, not the least of which is gasoline. Motorcycle accidents pose a high risk of fire, particularly due to how easy it is to puncture the gas tank on a motorcycle. This can create a chemical burn if it comes in contact with the rider’s skin, or can catch on fire if it comes in contact with an ignition source such as sparks, resulting in thermal burns to the rider.
The severity of a burn injury is categorized by degrees, with first-degree burns being the mildest and rarely requiring medical intervention. Third-degree burns extend through both layers of skin and the fatty tissue beneath it. Even worse, fourth-degree burns reach the muscle and bones. Severe burn injuries can result in complications such as hypothermia (low body temperature), loss of blood volume, infection, and scarring that can result in the need for skin graft surgery and other interventions to prevent the scar tissue from resulting in joint issues and a loss of range of motion.
Motorcycle accidents sometimes result in traumatic amputation for the rider. Traumatic amputation occurs when an individual’s limb is caught between two objects or sheared off by a sharp object. Surgical amputations are also sometimes required after motorcycle accidents, to remove limbs that are too damaged to surgically repair or that have become infected after injury and are posing other major risks to the individual’s health.
While not often fatal, one of the most common injuries for a motorcyclist to suffer is road rash. Road rash, more formally known as a friction burn, is a deep abrasion caused when the skin makes harsh contact with a rough surface, such as the asphalt of a roadway. This contact shaves off skin, leaving an open wound and often resulting in scarring and infection.
Some road rash cases require medical intervention, particularly if they are over a large part of the body, occur in a jointed area, embed rocks and other debris in the skin, or occur in the feet, genitals, or face—areas with increased risk of infection or scarring.
Motorcycle accidents may also produce internal injuries. Internal injuries can be silent killers, as they may not present noticeable symptoms until the sufferer has already lost a considerable amount of blood. While the body’s internal organs are generally provided some protection from injury by the skin, muscles, and bones, this protection is often not enough to withstand the forces of a motorcycle accident. One common type of internal injury to be suffered in a motorcycle accident is a pneumothorax, which results from a broken rib that punctures the lung and results in an inability for the lung to expand.
Motorcycle Riders Deserve Compensation
Contrary to some stereotypes and attitudes, motorcyclists not only have the right to use the roadway, but also to expect a duty of care from other roadway users. If you were riding a motorcycle and experienced injuries because of a reckless or careless driver, you can obtain compensation through a personal injury lawsuit. This is a legal claim filed in civil court, within a state’s applicable statute of limitations, that seeks to recover compensation for financial and other impacts from parties responsible for an accident.
How An Attorney Can Help Motorcyclists Pursue Compensation
The best motorcycle ride is obviously the one that doesn’t require calling a motorcycle crash lawyer afterward. Unfortunately, sometimes riders are the victims of tragic accidents. If you or a loved one have been in an accident, contact an experienced motorcycle accident attorney. An attorney can assist clients in obtaining the maximum amount of compensation possible in their case. Personal injury attorneys understand the hesitancy that many people have about the expense of hiring an attorney, and thus often offer two services to ensure that anyone who needs legal assistance has access to it.
These services include:
A free, no-obligation case evaluation, which is time to meet and talk with an experienced accident attorney, share the details of your case, and obtain guidance about your legal options.
- A contingent fee payment plan so you don’t need to pay for legal services unless and until there is a successful outcome to your case.
A motorcycle accident attorney may also determine any liable parties in your case and insurance resources that may compensate you, establish a value to your case, negotiate with the at-fault party’s insurance provider to garner a settlement offer on your behalf, collect evidence and testimony to prove your case, litigate, and collect your settlement or award.