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Internal Injury Suffered During Motorcycle Accident

Very few Massachusetts motorcycle accident victims emerge unscathed. In many cases, injuries are immediately apparent, such as when a person suffers road rash, puncture wounds or serious head trauma. However, internal injuries from motorcycle accidents are also common and may not be as obvious for days or even weeks after a rider suffers a crash.

Motorcycles offer little protection to riders. Internal injuries are an overlooked but often serious threat to riders, even if they are wearing all the required protective gear. This is especially true for those on lightweight motorcycles, where the abdomen of the motorcyclist is not shielded. Internal injuries can include:

  • Bleeding around the lungs;
  • Pneumothorax (aka a collapsed lung);
  • Tears in the aorta;
  • Tears, cuts or blunt trauma to organs like the liver, spleen, kidneys, pancreas, stomach or bowels;
  • Intracranial hemorrhage;
  • Reproductive organ injuries;
  • Joint, tendon and muscle injuries.

Internal injuries can be extremely dangerous in their own right, in some cases triggering a life-threatening loss of blood or organ failure.

At The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman, our injury attorneys will work tirelessly to help secure full compensation for each Boston motorcycle accident client who has suffered injury. Even those whose internal injuries aren’t life-threatening or severe contend with costly hospital bills and necessary time off work to heal. Many patients may need to be monitored for some time to ensure no recurrence or complication from such injury. Because simple dressings can’t treat internal wounds, surgery is often required. Some need multiple operations. Those who survive face extensive recovery, and some are never fully the same again.

Blunt Trauma, Penetrating Trauma and Decelerating Trauma

There are several means by which motorcyclists commonly suffer internal injuries, primarily:

  • Blunt force trauma;
  • Penetrating trauma;
  • Decelerating trauma.

Blunt force trauma occurs when the body hits or is struck by an object that is blunt (but not necessarily sharp) with sufficient force to cause significant damage. There is sometimes little external evidence of blunt force trauma, but that doesn’t mean the body hasn’t suffered serious injury (which is why it’s so essential to seek prompt medical care following a motorcycle crash). Most blunt force trauma cases involve blunt abdominal trauma (BAT), and most of these are the result of motor vehicle accidents. As noted by researchers, abdominal injuries are the leading cause of preventable deaths in trauma victims, and many times it’s because they initially go unnoticed. Motorcycle crash victims may have a decreased level of consciousness or there could be more “distracting” injuries. It’s important not to overlook blunt force trauma injuries, particularly blunt abdominal trauma injuries. These injuries are often detected via CT scans or ultrasounds.

Penetrating trauma occurs when a foreign object pierces the skin, entering body tissue and creating an open wound. These types of internal injuries will be more obvious. In the case of penetrating abdominal trauma, such injuries are often quite serious and require swift and sometimes extensive treatment. As noted by Trauma.org (an independent resource for critical care professionals), there are three main types of penetrating abdominal trauma: Major vascular injury (a patient is pulseless), vascular or solid organ injury that is hemorrhaging, and hollow viscous injury (to hollow organs such as bowels in the abdominal cavity).

Decelerating trauma happens when organs shift inside your body when there is a rapid speed-up-slow-down, as often occurs in motorcycle accidents where the rider’s body collides with a hard object, bringing them to a sudden halt. Internal injuries stemming from deceleration trauma tend to be worst in head-on or fixed-object collisions (such as with a tree). The brain is especially susceptible to this type of trauma (and the cause of numerous motorcycle traumatic brain injuries resulting in a subdural hematoma), but so too is the aorta, which is the main artery supplying oxygenated blood to the circulatory system. Deceleration injuries to the aorta often result in an aortic transection, which is a near-complete tear through the layers of the aorta due to trauma.

Any one of these types of trauma can also result in internal bleeding, which is especially dangerous when it occurs in the head, heart, spleen, liver, large blood vessels and lungs. This can happen even in seemingly minor, low-impact motorcycle accidents.

Because motorcyclists, unlike passenger vehicle occupants, directly absorb most of the crash impact to their bodies, they are extremely vulnerable to all types of injuries, but internal injuries especially. That’s why it’s important for riders, witnesses and first responders to be alert to the possible signs. These can include:

  • Pain in the abdomen that gets worse over time;
  • Low blood pressure;
  • Dizziness, shortness of breath, headaches, light-headedness or loss of consciousness;
  • Swelling, pain or tightness in the leg;
  • Blood in vomit, bowel movement or urine;
  • Discolored skin (particularly large, deep-colored purple bruises, as internal bleeding may cause skin to turn purple as blood seeps into soft tissue just below the surface of the skin).

Any one of these conditions in the hours, days or weeks after a motorcycle crash is reason to seek immediate medical attention.

Recovering Damages for Motorcycle Accident Internal Injuries

In addition to overcoming the physical hardships, those who have suffered internal injuries in a motorcycle accident must grapple with enormous economic burdens. Families of those killed may also be financially devastated.

It’s well-established that motorcycle crashes in general cause more severe injuries – and result in steeper costs – than collisions involving only passenger cars.

The Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project revealed the average length of in-hospital stays for an internal injury was seven days. Most with internal injuries must undergo surgery, and as noted in the journal Surgery, trauma patients as a whole suffer higher rates of complications than those in the general surgery population (which can mean an average of $40,000 more in medical bills). Expenses can continue to pile up with necessary ongoing care and treatment, as well as rehabilitation expense.

An estimate of individual damage awards in civil cases is highly case specific (depending not just on the extent of your injuries but also the number of defendants and their ability to pay). However, the most common types of damages we assert in these motorcycle injury and wrongful death cases are:

  • Medical expenses (previous and anticipated);
  • Loss of income (both the wages/ benefits already lost as well as reasonably anticipated losses in the future due to your injuries; can also mean the loss of wage contributions to the family if the victim died);
  • Physical pain and suffering;
  • Mental anguish;
  • Loss of life enjoyment;
  • Funeral expenses (if wrongful death);
  • Loss of consortium (typically asserted by spouse, parent or dependent child).

There may be other applicable damages (such as punitive awards, intended to penalize the defendant for egregious conduct), but it will depend on the unique circumstances of your Boston motorcycle accident.

Internal injuries are incredibly painful and can have a lasting impact. Our dedicated legal team is committed to fighting to ensure you receive the compensation necessary to recovery.

Contact the Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman today for a free and confidential consultation.
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