The 7 Most Injured Body Regions During Motorcycle Accidents
Motorcycle accident injuries typically affect these seven areas of the body:
1. Lower extremity
Motorcycle accident victims often sustain injuries to their lower extremities because of the exposed nature of a rider’s legs. In a crash situation, a motorcycle weighing hundreds of pounds can fall on top of a rider and cause injury to the lower part of the body.
In addition to the legs, vulnerable body parts include the knees, calves, ankles and feet. While the majority of these injuries aren’t fatal, they can be extremely painful and result in long-term disability.
Broken bones caused by motorcycle accidents often require the surgical placement of rods, pins, screws and other hardware. Multiple surgeries may be required, as well as months of grueling physical therapy. Injured riders can be left with a limp or another life-long impairment.
Another injury that affects the lower part of a motorcyclist’s body is road rash. Riders who are forced to swerve to avoid oncoming cars or avoid debris in the road often scrape their legs and other parts of their bodies along the hard surface of the road. The severity of injury may depend on the type of clothing that the rider is wearing and the speed at which the motorcycle is traveling. Even at low speeds, road rash can result in severe, burn-like abrasions that require skin grafts. Road rash injuries are extremely painful and can result in infections, nerve damage and permanent scarring.
Road rash is categorized in the same way that burns are. First-degree road rash is when the surface of the skin looks red and irritated. Second-degree road rash occurs when the skin is broken but the inner layers are intact. A third-degree injury is when the skin has been completely rubbed off and the inner layers of fat and tissue are exposed. This type of injury requires immediate medical attention.
2. Upper extremity
In many motorcycle accidents, motorcyclists are ejected from their vehicles and launched into the air. As in other accidents, people often use their arms to brace for a fall. It’s a common reflex.
As a result, motorcyclists who experience a hard landing in an accident are likely to suffer shoulder injuries and torn rotator cuffs. Broken arms, elbows and fingers are common. Injured motorcyclists might experience permanent nerve damage to the upper body.
Motorcycle gloves and “body armor” can help to provide some protection.
The thorax, or upper trunk of the body, houses the heart, lungs and other internal organs and is protected by the ribs. Blunt force trauma to the chest can cause internal bleeding and damage to any of these vital organs. Motorcycle accident victims often suffer broken ribs, which can puncture a lung or lacerate a spleen, kidney or liver.
When it comes to motorcycle accidents, the lungs are particularly vulnerable and susceptible to collapse and bruising. Lung injuries often require ventilation and in some cases surgery.
Injured riders are also at risk of suffering a torn aorta. These injuries almost always require surgical intervention and can sometimes be fatal.
In Massachusetts, all motorcyclists are required to wear a helmet. While wearing a motorcycle helmet that’s compliant with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s safety requirements can prevent or mitigate head injuries, it doesn’t prevent all head injuries in all accidents. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has information on its website on how to identify both safe and unsafe motorcycle helmets. According to the NHTSA, motorcyclists should look for the DOT certification sticker, evaluate the weight of the helmet and inner liner thickness, and check for sturdy chin straps and rivets.
Head injuries are some of the most serious injuries that a motorcyclist can suffer. Head injuries can range from mild to severe and can cause permanent physical, mental and emotional disabilities. In the worst motorcycle accident cases, head injuries can result in death.
Motorcyclists who are tossed from their vehicles are at risk of suffering skull fractures and other head trauma. Skull fractures can lead to brain damage.
Some common head injuries that motorcyclists suffer in motorcycle accidents include concussion, traumatic brain injury, coma, hemorrhaging, brain swelling, seizures and paralysis. Injured riders might experience confusion, disorientation, memory loss, depression, anxiety and loss of coordination and motor skills. Speech and vision problems can also occur.
In many of these cases, the injured motorcyclist is left with a permanent impairment. These injuries require lengthy and costly rehabilitation and treatment.
Signs of a head injury can include nausea and vomiting, unconsciousness, convulsions, headaches, slurred speech, dilated pupils and loss of coordination. Accident victims experiencing one or more of these symptoms should seek immediate medical attention.
Motorcyclists who are injured in accidents are at risk of suffering injuries to the face and neck. Common face injuries include broken noses, jawbones and teeth. Riders can experience permanent scarring and disfigurement, as well as emotional trauma from such a distressing event.
Motorcyclists who are struck from the rear can suffer whiplash. Whiplash occurs when a driver’s neck is “whipped” back and forth after impact.
Motorcycle accidents can cause damage to the bones, muscles, tendons, ligaments and nerves of the neck. The damage can affect a person’s ability to control head and neck movement and may be temporary or permanent. Serious neck injuries can damage the spinal cord and cause partial or total paralysis.
Nerve injuries can radiate and cause pain in various places such as the jaw, ears, arms and hands.
The force of a motorcycle accident can cause serious injury to the organs of the abdomen, including the spleen or liver. One of the worst parts of these injuries is that a motorcyclist might not be aware of the injury until time has passed. Internal injuries are much harder to detect than external ones.
Injury to the liver or spleen can cause internal bleeding and infection. In serious cases, these injuries can result in death.
Injured motorcyclists might require surgery and long-term medical treatment.
Symptoms of internal injuries include abdominal pain, bruising, low blood pressure, headache, dizziness, blood in urine and shock. Accident victims experiencing any of these symptoms should seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Injuries to the spine and spinal cord can be devastating. The brain sends motor commands through the nerves of the spinal cord. Injuries can result in various forms of paralysis, including quadriplegia, which is total paralysis from the neck down.
Other spinal injuries may result in respiratory problems, incontinence and sexual dysfunction.
These type of injuries require lengthy hospitalization and an extended recovery filled with appointments with specialists and physical therapists. Motorcyclists with these injuries often suffer chronic pain. Many aren’t able to return to work.Preventing and Mitigating Motorcycle Accident Injuries
While motorcyclists are unable to prevent all accidents, there are steps that every rider can take to minimize accident occurrences and mitigate injuries.
- Motorcyclists should:
- Always wear a helmet
- Wear appropriate gear, including long pants and boots
- Take motorcycle education and safety classes
- Perform regular maintenance on the motorcycle
- Drive defensively
- Drive a motorcycle appropriate for experience and skill level
- Abide by posted speed limits and obey the rules of the road
- Maintain a safe distance from other vehicles
- Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs
Motorcycle accidents can result in devastating injuries that last a lifetime. Motorcyclists have little protection when they become involved in a crash or collision other than a helmet and possibly a leather jacket,.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a motorcycle accident, the motorcycle injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman in Boston can help you get the compensation you need to get your life back on track.
We can help you recover for past and future medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering and more.
Our motorcycle accident attorneys have been representing motorcyclists across Massachusetts for more than 20 years, and we can help you, too. As lawyers, we know that many motorcycle accidents aren’t the motorcyclist’s fault.
We provide free consultations and take cases on a contingency fee basis. This means there are no out-of-pocket costs until we win your case.
We firmly believe that all motorcyclists should be able to travel safely across Massachusetts and that careless motorists and other negligent parties should be held accountable for the accidents that they cause.
Due to the seriousness of motorcycle accident injuries, it’s critical that you have an experienced attorney fighting for you. The sooner you contact us, the sooner we can start investigating your claim and identifying all potentially liable parties. Any delays could negatively impact the investigation of your accident and the compensation that you receive.
To find out more about how our motorcycle injury attorneys can help you with your motorcycle accident claim, contact The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, LLC today at (617) 367-2900 or use our online form.