Common Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents


motorcycle accident

Motorcycle accidents can be catastrophic, and any part of a riders’ body can potentially be injured. For example road rash and brain trauma are common in motorcycle accidents, as are fractures to the arms and legs and injuries to one’s internal organs. Delayed symptoms might also show up in the days and weeks following an accident, and it might be obvious that they resulted from the crash.

Given that it is not always clear when an injury is directly tied to an accident, a closer look at the common types of injuries from motorcycle accidents can help a victim understand the compensation they may be due.

Numbers Warn of Potential Danger

According to the NHTSA, an estimated 84,000 U.S. motorcyclists were injured in crashes in 2019. Of those, there were 5,014 motorcyclists killed, or 14 percent of all traffic fatalities for that year. The NHTSA further notes that motorcyclist deaths occur nearly 29 times more often than passenger car deaths.

Why is that? First, a motorcycle’s build provides little to no protection for its riders in a crash. Riders also risk greater injury from the impact of being thrown from the motorcycle. There is no protection surrounding them as a passenger car provides.

Distracted driving is another growing problem. Drivers use their smartphones from behind the wheel. Motorists do not see another vehicle on the roadway as they change lanes or pass. Despite the motorcyclist’s experience or care, they are still at greater risk.

So what kinds of injuries are common when looking at all these accidents?

Traumatic Brain Injuries (Especially for Unhelmeted Riders)

If a rider’s head hits the ground or another object, the result can be a traumatic brain injury. This type of injury might be a minor concussion requiring simple rest. However, more serious injuries can cause the brain to experience a loss of cognition, where it is not able to process information. There could also be permanent brain damage or even brain death. Such injuries can happen even at low speeds.

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are of special concern in motorcycle accidents. Sometimes a TBI is immediately noticeable, but at other times it may not be. This is all the more reason to get checked out by a doctor immediately after a motorcycle accident. 

This concern for TBIs is even greater in states that do not require helmets to be worn by riders. This includes Illinois and Missouri. Motorcyclists are not required to wear helmets in Illinois. Helmets are only required in Missouri for those riders under the age of 26.

In 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) noted that only 19 states require motorcyclists to wear helmets. In that year and in states where helmets were optional, 57 percent of the riders killed were not wearing them. In states with mandatory helmet laws, the number was reduced to 9 percent.

Injuries to the Spinal Cord

Spinal cord injuries can happen from any severe blunt force trauma during a crash. They can also occur when a motorcyclist’s body impacts the road, ground, or other objects.  Injuries can show up along the spinal cord from the base of the brain, in the neck, or down through the lower back. The symptoms from these injuries can range from general soreness to numbness or lack of sensation. They can further involve whiplash, impaired body functions, and partial or complete paralysis.

Body Extremities Can Also Be Injured in a Motorcycle Accident

motorcycle accident injuries

Following a motorcycle accident, a rider can have injuries to the upper extremities. This includes factures or cuts (lacerations) to the head, face, neck, thorax, or abdomen area.

Injuries to lower extremities are those below the waist, usually to the legs or pelvis area. A severe injury to the lower extremities can make a victim unable to walk. This can be temporary or might become permanent.

NHTSA research in 2019 also found lower extremity injuries to be the most common for motorcyclists. Injuries to the upper extremities were the second most common.

Injuries to Internal Organs

A severe impact in an accident can cause injuries to the body’s internal organs, too. The lungs, kidneys, and digestive organs are located in the body’s thorax and abdomen areas, and they are all at risk for injury from the blunt force impact of the crash

Internal injuries can also result from broken glass or other debris penetrating through the skin, or even the body’s own broken ribs puncturing the internal organs. Such injuries can cause internal bleeding, or long-term complications involving other bodily functions.

Fractures are a Common Motorcycle Accident Injury

When a rider’s body hits the ground or another object during a motorcycle accident, bones might fracture or break. Large fractures tend to be obvious, but less obvious are “hairline” fractures that might simply require a simple splint or air cast. More severe “compound” fractures require surgery and extended recovery time.

Road Rash is More Common, Yet Still Concerning

Road rash is the term given to severe cuts, scrapes, and bruising that occur when a body leaves the motorcycle and hits the pavement in a crash. Injuries like these from a crash can be minor. It depends on how fast they were going at the time of impact and the makeup of the surface they impacted. More serious, these injuries can require skin grafts and leave permanent scars.

Filing a Claim After a Motorcycle Accident

After a motorcycle accident, once the immediate medical concerns have been addressed, the next step is to file a personal injury claim. Working through the claim may help determine what injuries happened and if there are any lingering symptoms that could be related to the injuries. Personal injury damages claimed can be either economic or non-economic.

Economic Damages. Damages that are easily identified, such as medical treatment expenses, are economic damages. Therapy, prescriptions, lost wages, and other measurable costs and losses are also included. These damages form the foundation for a personal injury claim.

Non-economic damages. These can be harder to account for, but are equally important. They can include pain and suffering or other loss of daily life enjoyment. They can also include symptoms such as depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Motorcycle accident victims sometimes continue to suffer from mental and emotional injuries or psychological damage long after their physical wounds heal.

Beyond injuries and complications for riders and passengers alike, motorcycle accidents cause uncertainty. Who is at fault and who is responsible are questions that are often difficult to answer.

If you are injured in a motorcycle accident, you need to keep those at fault responsible. Filing a personal injury claim will get you fair compensation for your injuries and loss. Working with an experienced personal injury law firm like Hipskind & McAninch, LLC allows you to focus on healing.



Motorcycle Accidents, Uncategorized


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