Vehicle wrecks often cause serious injuries, but motorcycle accidents are particularly dangerous because riders aren’t protected from the road like other drivers. During a wreck, a rider may be thrown or pinned under the vehicle, both of which can result in catastrophic injuries. Even with a helmet on, traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries are common, as are fatal injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, or NHTSA, tracks rider injuries each year, and the numbers are alarming. Motorcycle riders are 35 times more likely to suffer from fatal injuries per mile traveled compared to drivers in standard passenger vehicles.
WHY ARE CATASTROPHIC MOTORCYCLE ACCIDENTS SO COMMON?
Without a layer of metal between them and the road, riders can be seriously hurt in a wreck that would only scratch a car or truck. Riders are often stereotyped as aggressive or reckless drivers, but most crashes that occur are not the rider’s fault. Instead, most wrecks happen when a driver fails to see a rider before it is too late. Drivers are conditioned to look out for other cars and trucks, but they often miss a rider in their blind spot when changing lanes or when turning against traffic.
The majority of crashes are head-on, accounting for 78 percent of all crashes. Vehicles making left-hand turns are also a threat to motorcycle riders, as this accounts for 42 percent of all wrecks. In both cases, the rider may be difficult to spot or may go unnoticed if the driver is not paying attention. Inclement weather may also shield riders from view, leaving them vulnerable to a driver changing lanes or making a turn suddenly.
WHAT ARE SOME COMMON CATASTROPHIC RIDER INJURIES?
Without a helmet, a rider can sustain major injuries to the skull or brain, often resulting in permanent damage. Even with a helmet, motorcycle accidents can result in permanent injuries to the spine or neck. In either case, broken bones and internal injuries are common.
In many cases, the deadliest complications are caused when there is trauma to the brain. External forces typically cause a traumatic brain injury (TBI). This usually includes rapid acceleration or deceleration or a powerful impact. TBIs manifest in many ways. Learning the full extent of the damage can be difficult, even with sophisticated imaging equipment such as an MRI or CT scan. Lesions, hematoma (blood pooling), edema (swelling), and lacerations are all common after a person suffers from a TBI.
Complications and prognosis depend greatly on the location of the brain damage and how severe it is. Even mild TBIs, though, have a 10 percent chance of causing long-term disability. For moderate and severe TBIs, both of which are common following a vehicle wreck, the chances of long-term disability are much higher. These disabilities may include changes in behavior or mood, cognitive changes, convulsions, sudden loss of consciousness, inability to wake, speech or motor disorders, vomiting or nausea, or loss of feeling in the extremities. If these symptoms do not resolve soon after a TBI occurs, the victim will likely require physical or mental therapy for many months or years.
Handling the medical costs resulting from a severe wreck can be daunting, so any rider involved in a crash should consider speaking to a personal injury lawyer to explore their options for compensation. With the help of an experienced legal expert, a rider can get help in putting their life back together.