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When riding a motorcycle, there is just as much potential to experience a crash than driving a car. Yet, what’s different and more harmful for the rider is its design. Motorcycles are less stable and, because bikes lack an enclosure around the rider, he or she may fly off the bike when a collision occurs.

According to data from NHTSA, 80 percent of all reported motorcycle crashes result in serious injuries – and a lack of helmet use can sometimes make these conditions more severe. Long term, about 10 percent of all injuries stemming from motorcycle crashes result in permanent, disabling conditions.

Riders are more likely to experience specific injuries not common for the typical driver. Based on data NHTSA gathered from 1997 to 2006, injuries become fatal when the rider hits the front of the motorcycle and lower-extremity injuries – including to the legs, ankles, and feet – are the most recorded at trauma centers. Upper-extremity and head injuries – while less frequent – tend to be more serious and have long-term ramifications.

In terms of how these injuries occur, hits to the front of the bike are responsible for 67 percent of all fatalities and 42 percent of incapacitating injuries. However, one-bike accidents, such as falling off the side of the bike or the bike fall on the rider, account for 30 percent of incapacitating injuries and 10 percent of fatalities.

With these figures in mind, which injuries is a rider likely to experience in the event of an accident?

Road Rash

motorcyclists riding on a sunny dayAlthough many consider this a minor motorcycle injury, road rash tends to be far more severe than a harmless scrape. The injury can become worse than it initially seems, especially if you don’t seek medical treatment. Your skin may develop infections and irritation from the deep scrapes and bruises and you could end up with permanent surface nerve damage.

Yet in many cases, the effects of road rash can be reduced. Riders are advised to wear thick clothing, like leather and other fabric more durable than denim, that will not rip if you slide across the pavement or fall onto concrete.

Burns and Fractures

An accident may also result in a burn or a fractured bone. Like road rash, these injuries require medical attention to correctly heal. Otherwise, some riders many find themselves with permanent disfigurement and nerve damage.

Biker’s Arm

This injury – which occurs when you fall off your bike, fold your arm under for impact protection, then land on it – is another condition leading to potential nerve injury. While many bikers believe this position prevents them from directly hitting the pavement, the injury doesn’t just affect your arm. As you’re recovering, you may find that the nerve damage also extends through your upper body.

Neurological Damage

Scrapes, fractures and broken bones aren’t the only injuries resulting from an accident. Rather, depending on how you hit the pavement, you could be dealing with a spinal cord injury – including a thoracic spine injury resulting in paralysis – or a traumatic brain injury (TBI). Unfortunately, TBIs aren’t always obvious at the scene, especially if your skin isn’t broken. Rather, symptoms from your shaken brain or swelling may show up months later and more serious head and neck trauma may lead to permanent disability or death.

Leg, Knee and Foot Injuries

According to statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), leg, foot and knee injuries – including shattered, broken or fractured bones, large cuts and scrapes – are some of the most common injuries resulting from motorcycle crashes. Yet, certain bones appear more vulnerable than others; particularly the legs, knees and feet.

  • 84 percent of foot injuries are to more prominent bones, including the metatarsal, tarsal, calcaneus and talus.
  • Most ankle injuries involve fracturing the tibia and fibula malleolar bones.
  • 37 percent of all knee injuries involve fractures to the tibia plateau and intercondyloid spine, followed by patella fractures and ligamentous and meniscus tears.
  • Injuries to the thigh area almost always involve a femur fracture and in 50 percent of all cases, the rider may also have a femur shaft fracture. Yet, soft tissue injuries are also a possibility, including to arteries, veins and nerves.

Hip and Pelvic Injuries

Landing on your side or flying off your bike also has potential to result in an injury to the hip or pelvis. Riders may dislocate a hip or experience a femoral fracture in a fall. The pelvis may also fracture or, in a smaller percentage of cases, the rider could experience symphysis pubis separation or a sacrollium fracture, with or without dislocation.

Because a motorcycle accident could change your life permanently, it’s advised that you dress for the road before you head out: A facial shield, abrasion-resistant clothing and shoes and gloves that will stay on if you collide with another vehicle.

Even when you practice good riding habits, motorcycle accidents still happen. When you’re dealing with an insurance company that refuses to fairly compensate you for your injuries, the Trantolo & Trantolo team is here to help. Many of us ride, so we understand the frustration you feel. Contact us today to bring a motorcycle claim to our attention.