According to the Arizona Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Foundation (AMSAF), there are more than 180,000 motorcycles registered throughout the state. Each year, around 3,000 of them are involved in some type of accident.
If you enjoy riding motorcycles, you know there’s nothing like the freedom of the open road. However, before you head out on your next adventure, it’s important to understand the risks involved.
Today, we’re taking a closer look at the most common motorcycle injury types in and around Tucson. We’ll also share how to file a claim and recoup the compensation you deserve if you find yourself in the throes of one.
The Arizona Department of Public Safety (APS) mandates that anyone riding a motorcycle under the age of 18 must wear a helmet at all times. In addition, they’re also required to wear all of the proper safety gear, including some type of face protection, such as
- Transparent face shield
Even if older than 18, it’s still smart to wear a helmet. This is one piece of protective equipment that you should never be without any time you’re riding your motorcycle. While the state government might not require older drivers to wear a helmet, they do require that all riders wear some type of eye protection.
When picking out a helmet, be sure to choose one that meets the U.S. Department of Transportation’s safety requirements. Here’s a comprehensive list of the features to look for, as well as how to identify an unsafe helmet while you’re shopping. The top few factors to look for include:
- DOT certification sticker
- Proper helmet weight
- Proper inner liner thickness
- Sturdy, reliable chin straps and rivets
Even with a motorcycle helmet on, you can still experience a head injury in a collision. These injuries can range from mild to severe, and some can even be fatal. Depending on the extent of your injury, you could experience mental and emotional disabilities in addition to physical disabilities.
One of the most common motorcycle-related head injuries is a fractured skull. This can occur if your head makes impact with the grass or pavement following a collision. Other types of injuries include:
- Traumatic brain injury (TBI)
- Brain hemorrhage
- Brain swelling
These can lead to a host of symptoms, including coma, seizures, and paralysis. In addition, you may notice other side effects if you experience a head injury, such as:
- Memory loss
- Confusion and disorientation
- Depression and anxiety
- Loss of fine motor skills
- Loss of balance and coordination
- Speech and vision problems
Even if you think you’re physically fine, it’s still a good idea to visit a physician if you’ve injured your head in any way following a motorcycle accident. They will be able to perform a complete analysis to understand and diagnose the full extent of your injuries.
If you’re riding a motorcycle and you see an oncoming car in your lane, your natural instinct might be to swerve so you can get out of the way. While this action might help prevent a more serious collision, it can also throw you off-kilter. In some circumstances, you could even be thrown off your bike.
You may also swerve if you notice an obstacle or a piece of debris in your way. In either case, your body could scrape against the hard, rough surface of the road. This can lead to a condition known as road rash.
While some riders may only experience minor scratches, others may have deep abrasions that look similar to a burn. In the most severe cases, the victim will require skin grafts to restore the form and function of the affected skin.
In terms of road rash, the severity of your injuries will hinge on two factors. These include:
- The type of clothing you were wearing
- The speed you were traveling
Note that even at low speeds, you can still experience serious road rash. In addition to the initial injury, you may also develop subsequent conditions as a result of your rash, such as infections, scarring, or nerve damage.
Degrees of Road Rash
Have you ever heard someone categorize a burn as first-degree or second-degree? When it comes to road rash, those terms also apply. Let’s take a look at a quick breakdown.
First-degree road rash is the least serious. This occurs when your skin simply looks red and a little irritated on the surface. If the skin is broken but the inside layers are still intact, that is considered second-degree road rash.
Finally, third-degree road rash occurs when the skin is completely removed during the accident. This essentially tears away the outer layer of the skin, leaving muscle, fat, and tissue layers fully or partially exposed. If you or someone in your riding group experiences third-degree road rash, they should seek immediate medical treatment.
Today, most motorcycle helmets include a special shield to keep your face as protected as possible while you ride. However, you’re still susceptible to injuring this part of your body if you collide with a vehicle or get thrown from your bike.
The most common injuries related to the face include:
- Broken teeth
- Broken nose
- Broken jaw
In some cases, these injuries can lead to permanent scarring or disfigurement. If you suffer an injury to your face or neck, you may also suffer emotional distress.
The most common type of neck injury that occurs in a motorcycle accident is whiplash. This condition occurs when your neck moves back and forth violently and suddenly. The motion is similar to the cracking of a whip, hence the name. As it’s a soft-tissue injury, whiplash might not be immediately apparent.
You might feel fine immediately following the accident, only to notice that the side effects have set in after a few hours or even the next day. This is why we always recommend visiting your physician after an accident to understand exactly where and how you’re injured.
While you’re most likely to experience whiplash, you could also suffer a broken neck in a collision. Other, more minor injuries include damage to the tendons, tissues, ligaments, and nerves in your neck. You may find that it’s difficult or impossible to turn your neck in certain positions.
This limitation may be short-term or permanent. If the injury affects your nerves, you may feel pain, numbness, or tingling in certain nearby areas including your ears, jaw, hands, and arms. In some cases, a neck injury can lead to partial or even total paralysis.
Upper Extremity Injuries
It’s a natural instinct to put your arms out in front of you during a fall. Even if you’re doing it subconsciously, this motion sends the signal that you’re prepared to experience an impact.
During a motorcycle accident in Tucson, you might be ejected from your bike and thrown into the air. If this happens, you will likely put your arms out in front of you to help absorb some of the impact. While this is a common reflex, it could have a consequence.
Excessive force on your upper extremities (wrists, arms, elbows, shoulders, and hands) can lead to a host of issues, from a broken hand to a torn rotator cuff. You may also experience broken fingers. In some of the most serious cases, riders who experience an injury to their upper extremities may have permanent nerve damage at or around the affected area.
Lower Extremity Injuries
When you ride a motorcycle, your legs and lower extremities (including your knees, calves, ankles, and feet) are naturally exposed to the elements. While you might cover them with proper legwear, they’re still open and free, as compared to riding within a vehicle.
This makes them very vulnerable in the event of a motorcycle accident. If you’re involved in a collision and you fall off your bike for any reason, all of that weight could come down on you. This can lead to a major injury, as most motorcycles weigh between 300 and 600 pounds, on average.
If this injury is the only one you sustain, it’s not typically fatal. However, a lower extremity injury can result in long-term or permanent disability. Depending on the location and severity of your injury, you may require the placement of hardware in your limbs to help them function properly, such as:
In addition, your physician may need to perform surgery to help you regain function in the affected area. This is usually followed by a dedicated period of physical therapy so you can optimize your mobility.
If your motorcycle injuries affect your spine or spinal cord, the outcome could be extremely serious. The nerves in your spinal cord must be intact so your brain can send basic motor commands through them. When they’re severed or damaged in any way, this communication becomes impaired.
This can lead to different types of paralysis, as well as related spinal injuries, such as:
- Respiratory issues
- Chronic pain
Often, spinal injuries require extensive stays in the hospital. You may also need to attend physical therapy for an extended period of time. In many cases, victims are unable to return to work, at least in the same capacity as they did before.
Blunt-force trauma can be painful to endure, no matter where on your body it occurs. However, it’s especially dangerous if it occurs near your chest cavity, which is called your thorax. Located on the upper trunk of your body between your neck and abdomen, your thorax houses many vital internal organs, including your:
- Major blood vessels
Your ribs, spine, and breastbone all work together to support and fortify your thorax. If you fall on your chest or an object impacts you in this region, it can crush or break those protective bones. This can cause bleeding and could damage your vital organs.
For instance, if you fall on your chest, you could break a rib. Or, if a sharp piece of bone impacts your lung or scrapes against another organ such as your liver, it could lead to serious injury. A punctured lung could collapse or bruise.
Depending on your injury, you may require ventilation to help the organ heal. Serious injuries may even require surgery.
The blunt force of a motorcycle accident can also cause serious injury to your mid-section, including the organs around your abdomen, such as your liver and spleen.
The interesting and challenging thing about these types of injuries is that they are not always apparent. Similar to a soft-tissue injury, mid-section trauma isn’t always immediately noticeable. This is true for most internal injuries.
If you suffer an impact or damage to your liver or spleen, it can cause internal bleeding. Left untreated, this can lead to an infection. It’s critical to stop the bleeding and repair your organs as soon as possible.
This usually means surgery is necessary, as well as long-term rehabilitation and therapy. Your physician will be able to diagnose your injury, but some of the most common signs to look out for include:
- Bruising around your abdomen
- Abdominal pain
- Dizziness and disorientation
- Low blood pressure
- Blood in your urine
Immediately following a motorcycle accident, you might still be in shock. This sends a rush of adrenaline through your system, which can mask some of your symptoms. Be proactive and seek immediate medical attention if you notice any of the issues above.
Help With the Most Common Motorcycle Injury
Every time you get behind the wheel of your bike, it’s important to drive defensively and stay as safe as possible.
If a nearby driver is behaving erratically, stay back and give them room. Likewise, practice smart riding skills and always look before you switch lanes, enter/exit the highway, or make a turn. With precaution, you can prevent the most common motorcycle injury types from occurring.
If you do suffer an injury, contact a motorcycle accident lawyer as soon as possible. Our team at Sweet Lawyers can help, so schedule a free consultation today!