When a motorcycle is involved in an accident, the rider might suffer serious injuries given the relatively little protection that motorcycle safety gear provides. According to the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, there were 354 motorcycle crashes resulting in serious injuries and 72 fatal motorcycle collisions in Washington state in 2014.
Because motorcycle injuries are often severe, treatment can be expensive - however, injured riders may be entitled to pursue compensation for their accident damages. Keep reading to learn more about the most common types of motorcycle accident injuries and how they might factor into your injury claim.
What are some common motorcycle accident injuries?
If you ride a motorcycle, wearing a helmet is one of the best ways to protect yourself from injuries. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcycle helmets are about 37 percent effective in preventing fatal injuries and 67 percent effective in preventing non-fatal brain injuries.
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can cause loss of memory, cognitive impairment, coma, and permanent disability. Treatment of a brain injury involves stabilization to prevent further damage and machine intervention to continue body function while doctors assess the damage. Long-term treatment might include rehabilitation, therapy, or home care.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Serious motorcycle accidents can result in herniated discs, fractured vertebrae, and even paralysis. Herniated discs can cause chronic back pain and may require surgery to repair or remove the damaged disc. Fractured vertebrae that compress or sever the spinal cord can cause paralysis of the body below the point of injury.
Spinal cord injuries are usually permanent and often require a patient to use assistive devices like wheelchairs. In cases of spinal cord injuries to the neck, a ventilator may be needed to assist with breathing. Severe spinal cord injuries will usually make patients dependent on others for many of their self-care needs.
The friction created between your skin and the pavement causes road rash. There are three degrees of road rash, ranging from minor irritation to abrasions and lacerations that break through the skin and expose muscles and other tissue.
Road rash injuries are prime candidates for infection if not cleaned and dressed properly. Even with proper care, the damage to lower layers of your skin can leave permanent scarring or discoloration.
Broken bones might be compound breaks where the bone breaks the skin, oblique fractures involving a curved break, comminuted fractures with multiple fragments, or other serious types of breaks. A rider’s arms and legs are often susceptible to these injuries because they have little protection beyond thick jackets and pants.
The hands, feet, and rib cage are also common sites for broken bones. Damage to the ribcage can also cause punctured lungs and damage to the internal organs. Most broken bones require immobilization to heal, but serious breaks can require surgery and implanted hardware to heal.
The best motorcycle helmets have face shields for a reason. Aside from the normal debris and wind damage that comes with riding a motorcycle, a face shield can protect you from face and eye injuries. Injuries to the jaw and teeth can cause difficulty eating and may require surgery to repair. Ocular injuries can cause temporary or permanent blindness, especially if debris pierces the eye in the accident. If your helmet does not have a face shield, a pair of strong goggles can help reduce the risk of injury to your eyes.
What can I expect when recovering from a motorcycle injury?
Many common motorcycle injuries require extensive treatment and care, which can often be extremely expensive and time consuming for the victim.
Serious cases of road rash might require skin grafts, and severe broken bones may require internal or external fixation devices like pins, rods, and screws, or bone graft surgeries. Additionally, back fusion surgery may be required to remove a troubled disc after an accident.
After back, head and brain injuries, the following types of rehab might be necessary:
- Physical therapy
- Language therapy
- Occupational therapy
- Mental health counseling
In very severe cases, an injured motorcyclist might require home health care or nursing care after an accident.
Paying for Motorcycle Accident Injuries
If a driver caused the accident, a motorcyclist can file an insurance claim with the driver's liability insurance to pay for medical treatment. Often, if the accident results in serious injuries, the insurance company may dispute much of the claim to avoid paying out a large award.
An attorney can help motorcyclists negotiate with the insurer to recover a fair settlement, as well as help them file a lawsuit if the insurance claim does not yield a fair settlement amount.
An experienced attorney can calculate all of the costs associated with an accident (medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, etc.) and help the rider fight for compensation. If you’ve been in a motorcycle accident, call Max Meyers Law at 425-242-5595 to schedule a free consultation and discuss your legal options.