Motorcycle riders are among the most vulnerable group of roadway users, leaving them more prone to injuries in an accident.
It’s true that motorcycle design does offer some unique advantages, such as improved maneuverability, that may help with crash avoidance. The trouble is motorcyclists are at a severe disadvantage when they are in a wreck. The most obvious issue is there is no barrier blocking the rider from the road upon impact – and riders are often ejected.
The Boston motorcycle accident lawyers at The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman understand that because of this fact, injuries sustained by motorcycle riders often tend to be far more serious – even for those traveling at a relatively low speed.
Some factors that impact the extent of one’s motorcycle injuries include:
- Was the rider wearing adequate facial protection?
- Was the rider wearing a helmet?
- Was there another vehicle involved?
- If there was another vehicle involved, how large was that vehicle?
- What were the general weather conditions at the time of the crash?
- What was the general health and age of the motorcycle rider?
- How timely did paramedics arrive at the scene?
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports there are nearly 4,700 motorcyclists killed in crashes annually and another 88,000 injured. Motorcyclists account for 18 percent of all occupant (driver and passenger) traffic deaths and 4 percent of all those injured.
Of those who do survive, injuries are often extensive. It’s extremely rare to walk away from a Massachusetts motorcycle accident unscathed.
Every accident is different, which of course means the combination of injuries suffered by riders vary greatly. Still, we have seen a few injuries present over and over again in our many years of legal practice. Listed here are a few of the most prevalent.Head Injuries
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are among the most common among motorcycle riders. TBIs can range significantly in severity, from mild to moderate to severe.
- Mild TBI – Don’t be fooled by the word, “mild.” Even low-level trauma to the brain can result in long-term problems, including memory and concentration issues, severe mood fluctuations, sensory issues and major headaches. Symptoms include loss of consciousness, feeling dazed, nausea of vomiting, drowsiness or fatigue, trouble sleeping, sleeping more than usual, dizziness and confusion.
- Moderate TBI – Moderate TBI usually involves some loss of consciousness, repeated nausea or vomiting, convulsions or seizures, slurred speech and persistent headaches. Dizziness, weakness in fingers and toes and other problems have also been reported.
- Severe TBI – Someone with a severe TBI injury has probably had an extended loss of consciousness and may have even slipped into a coma. They may suffer from profound confusion, agitation or other unusual behavior, slurred speech, dilation of one or both pupils and convulsions or seizures. In the long-term, recovery may be slow and never complete. Some with severe traumatic brain injuries exist permanently in a persistent vegetative state.
Massachusetts does tend to have lower rates of head injuries than other states because of its universal helmet law, codified in M.G.L. Chapter 90, Section 7, that requires all riders and passengers of all ages to wear protective head gear.
Other types of motorcycle accident-related head injuries include:
- Skull fractures
- Intracranial brain hemorrhage
- Post-traumatic amnesia
- Concussions and whiplash
- Post-traumatic headache syndrome
Helmet use also helps to lessen the chances of a facial injury in motorcycle crashes, but it continues to be a serious problem.
One of the most common is known as a temporal bone fracture. Medical researchers say 45 percent of these type of injuries are the result of traffic accidents, and motorcycle accidents especially. One would think that facial fractures would be easy to spot, but the reality is they aren’t always detected right away. That’s why it is so important to seek immediate medical attention. Treatment from a specialist might be necessary. Some problems associated with a temporal bone fracture include:
- Hearing loss
- Injuries to facial nerves
- Dizziness and nausea
- Skull fracture
Other types of facial trauma may include:
- Broken nose
- Traumatic eye injuries
- Facial burns
- Frontal bone fractures
- Dental injuries
Spinal cord injuries are among the most devastating in motorcycle accidents, occurring in between 5 to 12 percent of all such crashes. Usually, these happen when there is a hyperflexion of the spine when a motorcyclist, who is not restrained, makes impact with a hard object, such as the ground or tree or vehicle.
Some of the different types of spinal cord injuries include:
- Spinal contusions
- Partial paralysis
- Spastic quadriplegia
The average lifetime cost for someone who suffers a serious spinal cord injury in a motorcycle accident is between $2 million and $3 million.Lower Extremity Injury
Often the lower part of the rider is the most exposed to potential injury. Although helmets are required of motorcycle riders, full leg and foot gear is not. Even when a rider is not ejected and successfully “lays down the bike,” the riders is at high risk for lower extremity injuries.
These can include injuries to the hip, pelvis, thigh, foot, ankle, knees, toes and ligaments. Amputations are not unheard of and serious burns can occur as well.
We have also seen bikers suffer serious damage to their arms – a condition known as “Biker’s Arm,” which occurs when a rider instinctively extends their arm out in front of themselves to lessen the impact when they are thrown off their bike. This can result in broken bones or even permanent nerve damage.
No matter the extent of your injuries, we can help.
Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman today for a free and confidential consultation.