7 of the Most Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries & Causes

Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries & Causes

7 of the Most Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries & Causes

The features that motorcyclists love about their bikes are the same ones that make bikers more susceptible to potentially catastrophic injuries. The most common motorcycle accident injuries include head trauma, damage to the spine and neck, and broken bones. Knowing what injuries you might sustain in a motorcycle accident can help you make a more informed decision about how to protect yourself when riding.

How Do Many Motorcycle Crashes Happen?

Nearly 30 years ago, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) began reporting that many of the 67,000 motorcycle accidents were attributable to rider inexperience and failure to understand the handling characteristics of their motorcycles.

In a study conducted by the National Transportation Safety Board in 2018, about 22 years after NHTSA’s study, researchers similarly found human error to be a primary contributing factor to many motorcycle wrecks. This means that motorcycle accidents are often avoidable and need not result in any injuries.

7 Injuries You Could Sustain in a Motorcycle Crash

Dangerous and fatal motorcycle accidents can result in numerous physical and mental injuries. Some of the most common motorcycle accident injuries include the following:

1. Concussions and Brain Injuries

Brain trauma is a risk in any motor vehicle crash but is even more likely to occur in a motorcycle accident. This increased risk is reflective of the lack of safety features on motorcycles, including a chassis that can offer some protection to your head. With your head open and exposed to hazards in a crash, you risk suffering a concussion or other brain trauma.

Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries happen when your head either strikes a stationary object while moving or is struck by a moving object while stationary. Hitting your head on the pavement or handlebars of your motorcycle is an example of the former, while a piece of debris on the roadway or another vehicle hitting you in the head is an example of the latter.

Severe concussions and brain injuries can result in lasting cognitive, behavioral, and functional problems. Death can also result from a severe blow to the head. More mild injuries can still lead to confusion, memory loss, and the need for therapeutic services. Using an approved and properly fitting helmet can greatly reduce the risk of fatal injuries and severe brain trauma.

2. Neck Injuries

Unlike your head, which can be protected by a helmet, you may not give much thought to how exposed your neck is in the event of a motorcycle crash. And while there are neck protectors available for motorcyclists, these typically only protect your neck from flying road debris.

In a motorcycle crash, your head may snap quickly and violently forward and backward in a whip-like movement. Hitting a stationary object or vehicle, or being rear-ended by another vehicle, can cause this movement of your head and neck — even if you are not thrown from your ride. You can also experience this type of injury if you fall off your bike and hit your head on the ground.

Minor bumps and collisions may only damage the muscles in your neck, resulting in a stiff neck and sprained or strained muscles, tissues, or ligaments. For example, this can happen when you have to stop suddenly. A more serious wreck can damage the spinal cord that runs down through the vertebrae in your neck, which can lead to numbness, pain down your back, and temporary or permanent paralysis in extreme cases.

3. Injuries to Your Back and Spinal Cord

The bony vertebrae of your spine encapsulate and protect your spinal cord, which is the bundle of nerves that runs down from your brain and extends out to the rest of your body. This neural conduit allows your brain to consciously and unconsciously control your muscles and organs and receive information about your surroundings.

When you fall or are thrown off your bike because of a collision, you could land on your back. Depending on your age and whether you are wearing protective clothing, this causes bruising or a sprain or strain in your back. But in a wreck where you or the other vehicle is speeding, the trauma to your back can extend to your spine and spinal cord.

Severe back injuries include herniated discs, where one or more of the discs that separate and cushion your individual vertebrae bulge out of place and cause pain. Injuries to the spinal cord itself can lead to severe pain, tingling, numbness, weakness, or paralysis in your extremities.

4. Damage to Your Upper and Lower Extremities

According to J.D. Power, a motorcycle’s low visibility is a contributing factor in collisions between motorcycles and cars. This factor helps answer the question, “What is the most common type of collision between cars and motorcycles?”. You may turn in front of a car, expecting the driver to see you and slow down or stop. Or the car may not see you and instead turn in front of you, giving you no time to stop or avoid a crash. No matter the circumstances that lead to your motorcycle wreck, your hands, feet, arms, and legs are all exposed and unprotected.

Some of the most common motorcycle accident injuries, then, occur on your upper and lower extremities. Although clothing can protect these parts of your body against abrasions and some thermal or chemical burns, they cannot fully protect you from more severe harm.

Some of the ways your hands, arms, wrists, feet, and ankles can all be injured in a motorcycle crash include:

  • Amputations of your fingers or toes if cut by jagged metal or sharp debris
  • Crushing injuries if parts or you get stuck between two objects pressed together
  • Cuts and lacerations to exposed skin
  • Broken bones, especially smaller bones in your hands, wrists, toes, and ankles

While painful, except for amputations and crushing injuries, many injuries to the lower and upper extremities can heal over time. And even catastrophic damage that results in the loss of a hand, finger, foot, or toe — and any resulting limitations — could still be overcome with the help of rehabilitative therapy and the use of prosthetics.

5. Bruising and Internal Damage to Organs

Sometimes the most serious injuries are those you cannot see and that do not manifest symptoms right away. Common motorcycle accident injuries that fit into this category include bruising and organ damage.

Bruising happens when your body sustains a blow or injury that breaks the small blood vessels just underneath the upper layers of your skin. As blood leaks from these vessels, a dark mark emerges on your skin.

Bruising can be painful, but your body will generally reabsorb the blood after some time, making the bruise go away. If you have certain underlying medical conditions, the bruising might take longer to disappear or require medical intervention.

Your organs can even suffer trauma in a crash when they are not directly impacted by a blow. Hitting a stationary object such as your handlebars or another vehicle can cause damaging forces to be transferred to your stomach, heart, lungs, and other vital organs.

The signs of organ damage are not always immediately detectable by many. And the associated symptoms are not always indicative of the severe danger that organ damage presents.

For these reasons, it is always recommended that you go to your local hospital’s emergency room or make an appointment with your doctor as soon as possible after a motorcycle crash. Inform them of your wreck and ask for a thorough medical evaluation, including looking for signs of internal trauma.

6. Road Rash

“Road rash” is the common term used to describe painful and widespread abrasions that often appear over large parts of your body following a motorcycle wreck. If you are thrown from your bike in a crash, you can slide or roll across the pavement before coming to a stop. This movement over rough pavement is what leads to cuts on exposed areas of the skin, like your arms and legs. If you are not wearing appropriate clothing like leather or other durable materials, your back and chest can also be affected.

Road rash is rarely fatal. However, it is painful to experience and requires time to heal. You must also take care to properly clean and treat the affected areas as needed to avoid an infection from developing. Road rash might also lead to scarring if the wound does not properly heal.

7. Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Other Mental Injuries

Any type of motor vehicle crash can lead to mental as well as physical harm, and motorcycle collisions are no exception. It is difficult to quantify how many motorcycle injury victims also experience harm to their mental health, but this unseen damage is another type of common motorcycle accident injury.

There is no way to predict which motorcycle crashes will lead to mental health concerns, but the following factors make these injuries more likely:

  • Crashes resulting in more severe physical injuries
  • Physical injuries with long-term or lifelong consequences, like brain or spinal cord injuries
  • The suddenness with which the crash happened
  • How you were treated by bystanders, doctors, and family members after the crash
  • The strength and availability of your support network
  • Your own individual resilience

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can set in during the days and weeks after a motorcycle crash, and it manifests in various ways. Victims have reported difficulty sleeping, irritability, flashbacks, and nightmares. You might also experience panic attacks when confronted with a situation similar to that of your crash. As a result, you may choose never to ride your motorcycle again.

Depression and anxiety can also come on the heels of an accident. These are persistent mental health concerns that can demand long-term medication and counseling to manage. When present, PTSD, depression, and anxiety all have the ability to affect your quality and enjoyment of life.

What to Do Following a Motorcycle Crash

No matter if you sustain any of these common motorcycle accident injuries or just feel as though you got “banged up” in an accident, you should not take any chances. Some injuries, like brain injuries and trauma to your organs, can become worse and even life-threatening if you delay seeking medical care.

Before you do anything else after being involved in a motorcycle accident, you should make arrangements to get to a hospital or an appropriate medical facility as soon as possible. If you lost consciousness, lost a part of your body, have extensive road rash, or cannot feel your arms or legs, call for emergency help right away.

When to Call for a Motorcycle Accident Lawyer

Your health is paramount, and your legal rights follow close behind in importance. Once you have gotten medical care and your injuries are being treated, reach out to the knowledgeable and dedicated motorcycle accident injury recovery team at the Law Offices of Steve Gimblin.

We fight aggressively to achieve a just outcome for all of our motorcycle crash clients. Using our experience and resources in the courtroom and at the negotiating table alike, we protect our clients’ rights.

You can count on us to work tirelessly to hold negligent car and truck drivers accountable for their actions. Call or contact the Law Offices of Steve Gimblin today.

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