What Are the Most Common Motorcyclist Injuries?

Common Motorcycle InjuriesThe unfortunate reality is that motorcycle operators are likely to be more seriously injured in crashes than drivers of cars and trucks because they are unprotected on the roadway. In 2023, Massachusetts had 155,408 registered motorcycles. Motorcycle riding is a common pastime here in Boston and across the state.

The NHTSA reports that more than 80% of all motorcycle accidents result in injury or death to the motorcycle rider. They also report that “Per mile traveled, motorcyclists are 16 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a traffic crash and about four times as likely to be injured.”

In order to prevent accidents, riders must drive defensively and follow all traffic laws. However, crashes can happen to even the safest rider when faced with a negligent driver. Following are some of the most common injuries for motorcyclists.

Traumatic brain injuries

Helmets help prevent brain injuries. In fact, the NHTSA notes that “Helmeted riders have up to a 73 percent lower fatality rate than unhelmeted riders.” They also report that “Motorcycle helmets are 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries.”

Motorcyclists are at a significantly increased risk of suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI) compared to occupants of enclosed vehicles in the event of a crash. This is due to several factors, including:

  • Lack of surrounding protection:Unlike car occupants who are shielded by the metal frame of the vehicle, motorcyclists are exposed and have minimal protection in the event of a crash.
  • Impact forces:Motorcycle accidents often involve high-speed impacts, which can cause significant trauma to the head.
  • Helmets:While helmets are essential in reducing the risk and severity of head injuries, they cannot completely eliminate the risk of TBI.

Motorcycle accidents can cause various types of TBIs, ranging from mild to severe. Some of the most common types include:

  • Concussion:This is the most common type of TBI, and it can cause symptoms such as headache, dizziness, confusion, and memory problems.
  • Contusion:This is a bruising of the brain tissue, which can cause symptoms similar to a concussion, as well as more severe problems such as speech or language difficulties.
  • Intracranial hematoma:This is a collection of blood inside the skull, which can put pressure on the brain and cause serious damage.
  • Subdural hematoma:This is a type of hematoma that develops between the dura mater (the tough outer lining of the brain) and the arachnoid mater (the middle lining of the brain).
  • Epidural hematoma:This is a type of hematoma that develops between the dura mater and the skull.

Road rash

Road rash is a term used to describe abrasions or injuries to the skin that occur as a result of sliding on the ground or pavement after a fall. It is a common injury among motorcyclists and cyclists who are involved in accidents or crashes.

Road rash occurs when the skin rubs against the rough surface of the road or pavement, causing friction burns, cuts, scrapes, and bruises. The severity of road rash can vary depending on factors such as the speed of the fall, the type of surface, and the protective gear worn by the individual.

Treatment for road rash typically involves cleaning the affected area thoroughly to prevent infection, applying antibiotic ointment or cream, and covering the wound with a sterile dressing. In some cases, however, road rash may require medical attention, especially if the injury is deep or extensive.

Prevention of road rash involves wearing appropriate protective gear such as helmets, gloves, jackets, and pants made of durable materials like leather or Kevlar. Additionally, practicing safe riding or skating techniques and obeying traffic laws can help reduce the risk of accidents and injuries.

Arm injuries

Motorcycle accidents can cause a variety of injuries to the arms, from minor scrapes to serious nerve damage and fractures. Some of the most common arm injuries in motorcycle accidents include:

  • Biker's arm (brachial plexus injury):This is a serious injury that occurs when the nerves in the brachial plexus, a network of nerves in the shoulder, are stretched or torn. Biker's arm can cause pain, weakness, numbness, and paralysis in the arm and hand.
  • Fractures:Broken bones are common in motorcycle accidents, and the arms are especially vulnerable. Fractures can occur in the clavicle (collarbone), humerus (upper arm bone), radius and ulna (forearm bones), and hand bones. We successfully represented a client who suffered pelvic fracture in a motorcycle accident, and obtained an award of $1.25 million on his behalf.
  • Dislocations:A dislocation occurs when a bone is forced out of its joint. Dislocations can occur in the shoulder, elbow, and wrist.
  • Soft tissue injuries:These include sprains, strains, and muscle tears. Soft tissue injuries can be painful and can limit range of motion in the arm.

The severity of an arm injury in a motorcycle accident will depend on a number of factors, including the force of the impact and the type of injury. Treatment for arm injuries can vary depending on the specific injury, but may include surgery, physical therapy, and pain medication.

Leg injuries

Leg injuries are unfortunately common among motorcyclists due to the inherent risks associated with riding motorcycles. Motorcyclists are more vulnerable to leg injuries in accidents due to the lack of protection around their legs compared to occupants of enclosed vehicles.

Some common leg injuries that motorcyclists may sustain in accidents include:

  • Fractures: Motorcyclists can suffer fractures to the bones in their legs, such as the femur, tibia, fibula, or bones in the foot and ankle. Fractures can range from simple breaks to more complex fractures requiring surgical intervention.
  • Compartment syndrome: In severe cases, leg injuries sustained in motorcycle accidents can lead to compartment syndrome, a condition characterized by increased pressure within the muscles compartments of the leg. Compartment syndrome can cause pain, swelling, and potentially lead to tissue damage and nerve injury if not treated promptly.
  • Soft tissue injuries: Motorcyclists may experience soft tissue injuries such as sprains, strains, and contusions in their legs. These injuries can result from the impact of the accident or from the motorcycle rider being thrown from the bike.
  • Ligament and tendon injuries: In addition to fractures and soft tissue injuries, motorcyclists may also suffer damage to the ligaments and tendons in their legs. This can include injuries such as torn ACLs (anterior cruciate ligament) or damage to the Achilles tendon.

Preventing leg injuries among motorcyclists primarily involves wearing appropriate protective gear, including motorcycle boots, pants, and knee guards. Additionally, motorcyclists should practice safe riding techniques, obey traffic laws, and remain vigilant of their surroundings to reduce the risk of accidents.

Facial injuries

The face is particularly vulnerable in motorcycle accidents due to its exposure and lack of protection compared to occupants of enclosed vehicles.

Some common facial injuries that motorcyclists may sustain in accidents include:

  • Facial fractures: Motorcyclists can suffer fractures to various bones in the face, including the nose, cheekbones (zygomatic bones), jawbone (mandible), and eye sockets (orbital bones). These fractures can vary in severity and may require surgical intervention to repair. We secured $3.75 million for a client who suffered significant facial fractures after he was hit by a car while he was riding his motorcycle.
  • Eye injuries: The eyes are particularly vulnerable in motorcycle accidents, and riders may sustain injuries such as corneal abrasions, foreign object penetration, or damage to the delicate structures of the eye. Eye injuries can lead to vision problems or even permanent blindness if not promptly treated.
  • Dental injuries: Motorcyclists may suffer dental injuries, including chipped or broken teeth, or damage to the jawbone and surrounding structures. Dental injuries can occur due to direct impact with the ground or other objects during an accident.
  • Facial lacerations and scarring: Facial lacerations sustained in motorcycle accidents can result in significant scarring and disfigurement, which may require cosmetic surgery or other interventions to repair.
  • Soft tissue injuries: Motorcyclists may experience soft tissue injuries to the face, including lacerations, contusions (bruises), and abrasions (road rash). These injuries can result from direct impact with the road surface, other vehicles, or debris during an accident.

To mitigate the risk of facial injuries in motorcycle accidents, riders must wear appropriate protective gear, including a full-face helmet, protective eyewear, and a sturdy jacket with a high collar or neck protection. Helmets, in particular, are essential for protecting the face and head from impact and reducing the severity of injuries in the event of an accident.

At Breakstone, White & Gluck, we understand motorcycle accidents. Talk to us today if you’ve been injured in an accident – we are here to walk you through the legal process and work to secure compensation on your behalf. To see how we’ve helped clients just like you, check out our Results page.

If you’re injured in a motorcycle accident in Boston, you likely need help now. At Breakstone, White & Gluck, we are here for you. Let us investigate your motorcycle accident and seek the compensation you deserve for your injuries and losses. Call or contact us today for a free consultation. We serve all of Massachusetts out of our Boston offices.