The Most Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries

close up of the front of a motorcycle with headlightThe feeling of freedom while riding a motorcycle is unmatched. As the weather warms up, more and more motorcyclists take to the road to enjoy this exhilarating pastime, cruising the highways or threading through the scenic backroads.

While most outings on a motorcycle will be sheer pleasure, accidents can happen to even the safest and most well-prepared riders.

What makes motorcycling so enjoyable is also what makes it so potentially dangerous. Motorcycles have no protective structures surrounding them, as other motor vehicles do.

There are no bumpers, roll cages, crumple zones, air bags or other safety features that protect the occupants of cars and trucks.

Thus, when even a minor accident occurs, the types of injuries that motorcycle drivers and passengers can sustain are different and often more severe.

Below are some of the most common injuries sustained by motorcyclists.

Road Rash

Road rash is the term often used to describe the effects of human skin making continuous contact with the pavement.  But it is far more serious than simply skinning one’s knee. The angle of a crash as well as the speed involved may cause a rider to slide across the pavement for some distance, leading to serious injury.

While many motorcyclists wear protective clothing, too often there is not enough material covering all parts of the body. The resulting injury often resembles a burn and may be serious enough to require skin grafting to repair the damage.

Also, debris can become lodged in the skin during the accident, leading to infection, irritation and nerve damage if not properly treated. Other objects on the road surface can cause lacerations to the skin and result in damage to underlying muscles and tissues.

All of these road rash injuries are painful and can take a long time to heal.

Damage to Arms and Legs

Human leg in cast from motorcycle accident

The most common injuries to motorcyclists are those to the lower extremities. [1]  Even in a minor accident, an operator will often place their feet down in an effort to stabilize the bike or attempt to lay the bike down.

In these cases, the motorcycle itself can fall onto one of the legs and its weight is enough to break the bones of the legs and feet.  A more severe fall can easily fracture the hip.

Even with efforts to stabilize the motorcycle, most accidents involve the bike tipping over.

It is a natural instinct to reach out in an attempt to break one’s fall, and this will commonly result in torn ligaments, tendons, and/or broken bones in the hand, wrist, arm and shoulder area.

Head Injuries

While not as common as injuries to the lower part of the body, injuries to the head are almost always more severe in a motorcycle accident.

Most states have helmet laws, and the use of helmets has, according to the CDC, dramatically decreased the number of motorcycle accident fatalities. [2]  Even when properly protected, however, when the head strikes either the pavement or another object, the results can be as mild as a slight concussion or as severe as a Traumatic Brain Injury, or TBI.

The extent of a head injury is often not discernible right after an accident, so it is important to seek prompt medical attention.  Symptoms such as nausea and dizziness can signal trauma to the brain or spine.

While mild to moderate concussions often resolve over time with treatment, a TBI, which involves serious damage to the brain and nerve tissue, can be fatal or lead to serious, permanent impairment of the victim’s ability to perform even basic, everyday tasks. This, in turn, can require long-term rehabilitation and medical treatment and severely limit a person’s quality of life.

Spinal Trauma

While helmets save lives, they do little to protect the spinal column in an accident.  Injury to the spine is common when the rider or passenger falls or is ejected from the motorcycle and can be much more severe when that person then strikes a stationary object such as a tree, guardrail or another vehicle.

A spinal injury can cause damage to the soft tissue of the spine, such as bulging or ruptured discs, temporary or permanent paraplegia (the loss of sensation or motor control of the legs) or quadriplegia (the loss of both sensation and control of all four limbs).

Injuries to the Thorax

Thoracic injuries, (injuries to the chest, shoulder and back), are common in motorcycle crashes.  Fractures to the sternum or the ribs can be very dangerous, especially as the latter can puncture nearby internal organs such as the lungs and cause internal bleeding.

These injuries can be fatal. Even when they’re not fatal, such internal injuries can take a long time to heal and can involve complications such as pneumonia and infections.

x-ray image of a shoulder

In 2017, the most recent year for which data is available, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that approximately 89,000 motorcyclists and passengers were injured on America’s roads, and 5,172 persons were killed. [3]  Don’t become a statistic.

Take motorcycle safety seriously, get the training you need and always wear a helmet so you can continue to enjoy motorcycling and travel the roadways for many years to come.

Have You or a Loved One Been Injured in a Motorcycle Accident?

At Martin, Harding & Mazzotti, LLP, we’ve been successfully representing motorcycle accident victims for over 25 years.

Our experienced team of legal professionals will investigate your case and fight hard to make sure you receive the compensation you’re entitled to after an accident.

We’re here for you 24/7 at 1-800-LAW-1010. Contact us today for a free, no obligation evaluation of your case. Helping you is what we do.