motorcycle accident injuries

Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries

Unlike passengers in an enclosed automobile, motorcyclists are significantly more vulnerable to the consequences of a collision. Common motorcycle accident injuries include traumatic brain injuries, whiplash syndrome, spinal injuries, chest injuries, injuries to limbs, internal bleeding, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Road Rash
Road rash is one of the most common injuries that a motorcyclist can suffer. A collision can eject a rider from the motorcycle and onto the abrasive ground, causing serious damage to the skin. First degree road rash can be minor, causing skin to appear red and sunburn-like. There may be scrapes, but likely no deep tears in the skin. Second degree road rash is classified by an abrasion that has torn the skin. Third degree road rash is classified by a gash that penetrates all five layers of the skin.

The cut may be deep enough that muscle tissue or even bone may be exposed to the elements. These wounds are susceptible to infection due to the potential danger of rocks, dirt, cement, or even glass and other debris on the road entering the wound. It is crucial to receive medical treatment to remove the debris, sterilize the wound, and receive proper suturing. Failing to seek medical treatment may result in incurable infections and/or permanent scarring

You can reduce the chances of road rash with proper protective gear including helmets with a face guard, a jacket, riding boots, and thicker pants. California motorcyclists enjoy the consistent warm weather, but there is no worthwhile opportunity cost for taking the proper measures to protect yourself from potential danger.

Traumatic Brain Injuries

When a head injury occurs, the brain is shaken within the skull. This can result in bruising, swelling, and bleeding in the brain. Because the skull will not expand when the brain swells, it can feel like tension and pressure in the head area. Short term, this can lead to disorientation headaches, fatigue, dizziness, irritability, and cognitive impairment. Long term, this unfortunately can lead to ongoing seizures, loss of consciousness, difficulty forming comprehensible sounds/words, memory loss, loss of motor skills, and mood changes.

The measure of the severity of a traumatic brain injury can be difficult to gauge. Sometimes, symptoms will begin to show right away. These symptoms might be temporary loss of consciousness, sensitivity to light or sound, and blurred vision. However, more often symptoms of brain injuries insidiously show up a few days or even a week following the incident.

Brain injuries left unchecked can leave life-changing effects, even resulting in brain death. If you or a loved one has suffered a head injury in a motorcycle incident, please seek medical attention immediately.

motorcycle accident injury

Whiplash Syndrome

Whiplash injury occurs when a person’s head has been jolted around after an accident. Typically, the impact of a collision is violent enough to impart significant variable G-forces on the rider, driving the head, neck, and upper torso violently back then abruptly forward. For motorcyclists, being hit from behind at even a low speed can result in whiplash injury.

Often, whiplash symptoms gradually show up following an incident. The shock of a collision causes adrenaline to rush through the injured person’s body, masking the pain. A motorcyclist will likely wake up the next morning or even days to weeks following the incident feeling muscle weakness and stiffness radiating throughout the upper portion of the back, neck, and shoulders. There is usually limited range of motion. Whiplash can also result in concussion symptoms including ringing in the ears, blurred vision, dizziness, nausea, memory loss, and fatigue.

Leaving whiplash symptoms untreated increases the risk of chronic pain and soreness, vertigo, chronic headaches, spinal misalignment, permanent mobility challenges, and degenerative disc disease.

Spinal Injuries

Motor vehicle incidents, including motorcycle accidents, are the leading cause of spinal cord injuries. Spinal cord injuries can be the most severe and permanently life-altering if not treated properly. Each segment of the spinal cord communicates with different parts of the body. The cervical, thoracic, lumbar, and sacral regions are all commonly injured in motorcycle collisions. The ability to control limbs after a spinal cord injury depends on the region of the injury along the spinal cord and the severity to the spinal cord.

Imaging studies such as CT scans, X-rays, and MRIS can reveal lesions which might indicate possible hematoma or abscesses, herniated discs, spinal cord compressions, ruptured ligaments or tendons, and displaced bone fractures.

Common signs and symptoms of spinal cord injuries are loss of movement, loss of sensation to touch, exaggerated reflex activities, muscle spasms, infertility, decreased sexual functionality and sensitivity, stinging sensations in nerve fibers in the spinal cord, or difficulty breathing. Spinal cord injuries left unchecked can result in chronic extreme pain or pressure in the back or neck, weakness or paralysis in various parts of the body, numbness and tingling or loss of sensation in hands and feet, loss of bladder control, difficulty balancing, permanent impaired breathing, or neck and back misalignment.

The symptoms can be treated sometimes through chiropractic adjustments, injections, or even surgery. You should seek medical attention immediately following an accident, or at least as soon as symptoms become apparent.

Chest Injuries

Blunt force trauma can subsequently lead to chest injuries. This can include single rib fractures or multiple broken ribs. When the ribs are compromised, the internal organs lose their protective shield. Injuries to the lungs, aorta, liver, spleen or kidneys are common. Treatment can be as simple as taking medication or as complicated as surgical intervention. Broken ribs can even puncture the lungs, causing one or both to collapse. More often, a contusion – a bruising – of the lungs occurs.

Victims with chest injuries are likely in emergency situations and will require prompt medical attention. Without seeking proper medical attention, victims with chest injuries and underlying serious injuries may experience irreparable harm or even death. Chest injuries that puncture internal organs may lead to internal bleeding.

Internal Bleeding

Internal bleeding can be more difficult to diagnose than an external injury. Symptoms of internal bleedings are dizziness, weakness, fainting, low blood pressure, visual challenges, numbness, headaches, shortness of breath, chest pain, nausea, vomiting, and/or diarrhea. There may be evidence of blood in urine, vomit, or stool. A more physical sign symptom of internal bleeding is bruising around the naval or the sides of the abdomen. The bleeding may spread to muscles and joints which can decrease range of motion.

Injuries To Limbs

Motorcycles are not self-balancing, and thus usually fall over when an accident occurs. Injuries to both lower and upper extremities are often the result.

When the bike falls over, it can crush the rider’s lower body beneath it. Lower extremity injuries can affect the feet, ankles, legs, knees, thighs, hips, or even pelvis. Injuries can include fractured tibias and fibulas, leg amputations, surgery to the popliteal artery, laceration to the Achilles tendon, knee sprains and tears, fractured, hip dislocation, and/or shattered pelvic bones.

It is human nature to stretch out the arms and attempt to break a fall. When motorcyclists fall over, they may experience injuries to the upper extremities when attempting to catch themselves falling. Injuries can include fractures to the fingers, hands, wrist, arms, elbows, and even shoulders. Injuries can include abrasions, contusions (bruises), bone fractures, and/or muscle sprains.

Recovery for the aforementioned injuries can be long and painful, often requiring physical therapy and chiropractic treatment with a home exercise program. Treatment may even require injections or surgical intervention.

Failing to seek proper medical attention may delay recovery or result in permanent damage. Fractured bones left unchecked will often begin healing out of their proper place, which can cause misalignment, deformity, or loss of use long-term.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder

Injured victims are not limited to physical symptomology. Often, victims experience emotional trauma as well. Up to 28% of victims of motor vehicle collisions suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is the psychological and emotional distress that follows a traumatic event. Side effects of PTSD may include nightmares and flashbacks of the motorcycle accident, active avoidance of things that could trigger memories of the event, negative thoughts and feelings, high-risk behavior, hypervigilance, panic disorder, amnesia surrounding the event, feelings of isolation, insomnia, and/or loss of interest in activities enjoyed prior to the incident.

People suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder following a motorcycle incident may withdraw from friends and family, have emotional outbursts, feel alone, experience fear surrounding getting in a vehicle or on a motorcycle again, experience guilt at times, or have difficulty concentrating. This can make it difficult for victims to return to work and be productive and maintain personal relationships.

It is easy to forget the emotional pain that comes with the physical injuries associated with a motorcycle incident. However, when you or a loved one is the victim, the pain is extremely real. Associated anxiety and depression could take years to overcome. Loss of confidence for the rider could linger forever if left untreated.

Treatment plans for PTSD will vary by patient. Techniques used may include cognitive therapy, exposure therapy, and/or eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). Some victims benefit from antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. Untreated PTSD can be life-altering, resulting in anger management issues, loneliness, severe panic disorder, or overwhelming depression.

How Can You Avoid Injury From Motorcycle Accidents?

Motorcycle riding can bring an unmatched sense of freedom and excitement to the rider, but it can also be extremely dangerous and unfortunately potentially deadly. Practicing safety measures can reduce the risk of a collision and subsequent injury.

Regardless of experience, riders should ALWAYS practice control over their speed and obey traffic laws. Be aware of slick pavement, debris or objects on the road, and changing weather conditions.

Despite safe riding by the motorcyclist, most accidents are caused by automobile driver error. It is important for motorcyclists to remain alert and ride under the presumption that other drivers cannot see them. Automobile drivers can become distracted by GPS systems, cell phones, or other passengers. They also might have a blind spot that blocks them from seeing motorcyclists. Even though a motorcyclist may have the right of way in traffic, it is always the safest to take extra precaution when entering intersections and merging with traffic.

Thick jackets and pants, proper boots, and a helmet will reduce the severity of an injury. Helmets can be effective at reducing the chance of suffering the more serious symptoms of head injuries in the event of a collision by absorbing some of the impact of a collision. Reflective gear can also give peace of mind to the rider and make the rider more visible to other drivers on the road, especially at nighttime.

Motorcyclists should also make sure their vehicles are up to date on all repairs. It is imperative to routinely check tires, lights, brakes, etc. Unfortunately, even by taking all the precautions possible, sometimes accidents cannot be avoided. If you are injured in an motorcycle accident, please seek medical attention immediately.

Seek Medical Attention Immediately

No matter how “fine” you may think you are after an accident, please get a professional opinion. You may have hidden symptoms that if left untreated could result in serious life-long consequences. These long-term, life-altering injuries can be avoided by seeking medical care.  Your health is a priority. Failure to seek medical attention can result in long-lasting complications that affect health, work, and day to day life for both the injured person and their relationship with their family and friends.

Medical costs can add up quickly and be intimidating for victims of personal injury. After an accident, your main priority should be getting healthy and back into an active, normal state, enjoying your life with your family. A personal injury attorney can take away the stress of dealing with insurance companies and court documents, etc. An attorney can get you the compensation that you deserve to help cover the costs of medical care, all while you focus on your health.

How Can A Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Help Following An Accident? 

A personal injury attorney may be able to help recover damages that can help cover treatment and other costs. Damages can be short-term, but oftentimes injuries from a motorcycle incident can last a lifetime, affecting not only the injured party, but the family as well.

Contact the team at Batta Fulkerson Law Group today to schedule a FREE one-hour consultation to review your case and available options.

What to expect in your Consultation Meeting:

  • Collection of information about you to help assist you better
  • Review of any court documents
  • Review of what happened in your claim
  • Explanation of court processes, fees, and what we can do to help your case.

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