Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Motorcycle accidents are almost always extremely violent events, especially for the motorcyclist. Whether it is a one-vehicle accident where the motorcyclist makes a driver error – a common occurrence – or a collision with another vehicle or vehicles, motorcycle accidents always expose the rider and any passengers to the possibility of severe harm, or even death. More than 80 percent of the time, motorcycle accidents result in the death of the motorcyclist, or injuries to the motorcyclist. Because motorcycles provide their riders with essentially no protection, riders are almost always ejected, where they can strike other objects or the ground, or dragged along with the motorcycle, a process somewhat akin to a meat grinder.Motorcycle Accidents Occur at a Higher Rate than Passenger Vehicle Accidents
Because motorcycles are smaller and have less of a profile than passenger vehicles, other drivers frequently fail to take full notice of their presence. Also, because they are two-wheelers, they are less stable than vehicles with four or more wheels. This makes motorcycle riders far more likely to be injured or killed in an accident. Federal statistics show that in 2015, there were 29 times as many motorcycle fatalities per vehicle mile travelled as fatalities in passenger vehicles. Use of a properly designed helmet can prevent many of those fatalities, preventing about 37 percent of deaths and showing 67 percent effectiveness at preventing brain injuries.What are the Most Common Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents?
Federal statistics provide surprising answers regarding the most common non-fatal injuries suffered in motorcycle accidents. While head injuries are the most common cause of deaths in motorcycle accidents, they don’t top the list of most common non-fatal injuries. The top three injuries are:
- Lower-extremity injuries
- Upper-extremity injuries
- Head injuries.
Those findings were largely duplicated in a seven-year study by the Centers for Disease Control, which looked a more than 1.2 million people treated for injuries suffered in motorcycle accidents from 2001 to 2008. That study found that 30 percent of all non-fatal injuries suffered in motorcycle accidents were to the legs and feet. The second-most common injuries were to the head or neck, comprising 22 percent of all non-fatal injuries. The third-most common non-fatal injuries were to the “upper trunk,” which consisted of the chest, shoulder and back, followed by injuries to the arms and hands. Rounding out the top five most common injuries were wounds to the lower trunk, the hips and pelvis.
Most motorcycle accidents result in the rider losing control of the motorcycle, often after colliding with another vehicle, but also in one-vehicle accidents, such as losing control going through a corner. Because of this, the rider is no longer able to avoid obstacles, including other vehicles, trees, signs, fences, street light posts, and the like. The rider may be ejected from the bike, or slide along the ground with the bike. This can lead to all sorts of possible injuries, including:
- Broken bones and joints from collisions with other vehicles or other objects, with the most common breaks happening to the shoulder and pelvis
- Concussions and brain damage from head contact with the ground, vehicles, or other obstacles
- Skin and muscle damage caused when the body slides along the ground, a condition known as “road rash.” Depending upon how far the rider slides, however, the injury can become quite serious
- Facial disfigurement when the rider is not wearing a full-face helmet, as 35 percent of crashes involve impact on the chin-bar region.
Many motorcycle accidents are caused by inexperience or unfamiliarity with the limitations on operating a motorcycle as opposed to driving a car. Consequently, many riders, especially newer riders, fail to exercise the kind of vigilance and care required to safely operate a motorcycle. For instance, about a third of multi-vehicle motorcycle accidents happen at intersections when another vehicle turns in front of the motorcycle. Motorcyclists have to be extra-vigilant for situations such as this. They also need to be more careful during inclement weather, as motorcycles are more difficult to handle on wet surfaces than cars generally are. There are other steps motorcyclists can take to reduce injuries, including:
- Wear a properly designed helmet. Helmets are a lifesaver for motorcyclists and also can lessen the severity of non-fatal head injuries. The hard exterior protects the head from crushing blows, while the interior padding lessens the shock to the head and brain.
- Wear eye protection. This could include a full-face helmet, which is preferred for the addition protection it provides against facial injuries, or goggles, which protect only the eyes.
- Wear protective gear, such as a leather jacket and specially designed pants. Regular fabrics won’t protect against road rash, because they shred so quickly. Proper protective clothing should guard against road rash and other soft-tissue injuries for the duration of a four- or five-second slide along the ground.
- Take a safety course to learn how to properly and safely ride a motorcycle. Many organizations sponsor training courses to promote safety and reduce injuries. Such courses deal with proper safe operation of a motorcycle as well as proper protective gear and other aspects of safe motorcycle operation
- Learn to brake properly. Motorcycles have separate front and rear brakes. Braking too hard on the front brake can lock the front wheel and sent the rider vaulting over the handlebars. Riding a bike with anti-lock brakes also would address this issue. One safety organization reports that bikes with anti-lock brakes have much lower accident rates than bikes that do not have them.
No matter what precautions you take, you still can be injured in an accident while riding your motorcycle. In that event, you should contact an attorney versed in motorcycle accidents.Contact an Atlanta Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident, you should consult with an attorney to review options you might have for recovering damages. Contact the attorneys at Slappey & Sadd for a free consultation to discuss your case by calling (404) 255-6677. Our attorneys serve the entire state of Georgia, including Smyrna, Decatur, and Marietta. You also can reach us through our online contact form.