Although motorcycles are still considered motor vehicles, many things about them make them dramatically different from other cars or trucks on the road. One of these is the risk of road rash to motorcycle riders involved in accidents. Road rash can be a minor irritant, a severe life-threatening injury, or something in between. Fortunately, in many cases, victims of road rash are entitled to compensation for their injuries and other losses.
Motorcyclists at an Increased Risk of Injury
Riding motorcycles is inherently more dangerous than operating passenger vehicles because the rider has more exposure to injury in an accident. Those driving or riding in automobiles often have a 4,000-pound vehicle with airbags, seatbelts, and other safety features protecting them. At best, a motorcyclist has a helmet and some other protective gear. As such, nearly 80 percent of motorcycle riders who have an accident incur injuries according to figures reported by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. In many cases, these injuries are severe and may even lead to long-term disabilities that affect victims for years or even decades.
What is Road Rash?
When you think of road rash, you might think of a simple but painful skin abrasion that occurs when skin slides along the road surface, especially hard surfaces like asphalt and concrete. If a surface has a lot of debris like loose rocks, broken glass, or rock salt, it can increase the severity and problems associated with road rash. Road rash can happen alone or in tandem to other injuries such as fractures, head injuries, or spinal cord injuries. Many instances of road rash are minor but others can be life-threatening.
Road rash can be prevented or reduced by wearing safety gear such as:
- Long sleeve shirt or jacket
Types of Road Rash
There are different types and severities of road rash. The severity of the road rash will depend on the force of the crash, the type of surface where the crash occurred, and if you were wearing any safety gear at the time of the accident. The three different types of road rash are:
An avulsion is the most common of the three types of road rash. The skin is scraped away, and lower layers of fat, muscle, and even bone may be exposed as a result.
An open wound road rash will usually require stitches. In more severe cases of open wound road rash, the victim will need to undergo a skin graft as well.
A compression road rash happens when a part of the body is caught between two hard objects, most likely the motorcycle and the road. A compression road rash can cause bruising, muscle damage, and broken bones.
Assessing a Road Rash Injury
Road rash can vary in severity. If you have a road rash injury or come across someone who does, you may not have the skills to ascertain how bad the condition is.
Road rash might require emergency medical care if there is:
- Significant bleeding or spurting blood
- Underlying structures exposed through the skin such as bone, tendons, or ligaments
- Skin hanging from the wound that needs trimming
- Deep cuts that might require stitches
If none of these symptoms are present, it is still a good idea to be seen by your healthcare provider as soon as possible to ensure your health and safety. You may also have other injuries that need medical treatment.
Treatment for Road Rash
If you do not need emergency medical attention, you still should take care of and treat your road rash at home. If left untreated, you could acquire an infection or have significant scarring.
Contact your doctor for further advice and follow these steps to help ensure proper healing:
- Gently wash with mild soap and water—although painful, this step is vital to remove any dirt and debris that could cause infection.
- Apply an antibiotic ointment
- Apply a loose, non-stick dressing to the entire area
Repeat these steps once per day. You can stop dressing the wound after it stops oozing, usually about seven to 14 days after the injury. However, even when appropriately treated, severe road rash can lead to infection, intense pain, and permanent scars. If you experience any of the road rash complications, you can reach out to a motorcycle accident attorney to get your questions answered and learn more about pursuing a legal claim for compensation.
Severe Road Rash
Sometimes the road rash suffered by a motorcyclist is severe. It cannot and should not be treated at home. It is painful and may be disfiguring. Road rash can take a long time to heal in some cases, leading to ongoing medical bills as well as pain and suffering. You may even need to miss time at work, either because you are in pain and physically cannot work or because you are attending necessary medical appointments for treatment.
Damages You Could Claim for Road Rash Injuries
Like other motorcycle accident injuries, you can file an insurance claim to seek compensation for your injuries and damages related to road rash. The damages you claim will depend on your accident and the specifics of your injuries and their impact on your life. Road rash victims can generally claim two categories of damages—general and special.
Special damages, also referred to as economic damages, are generally objective and include monetary losses such as:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future lost wages
- Property damage to your motorcycle
- Transportation costs to your medical appointments
- Lost business opportunities as a result of the injuries suffered
On the other hand, general damages or non-economic damages are subjective and do not have a pre-determined value. Your general damages might include things like:
- Pain and suffering
- Scarring and disfigurement
- Loss of society
- Loss of consortium
- Loss of enjoyment of life
Get Help for Your Road Rash
If you sustained a road rash injury in a motorcycle or other type of motor vehicle accident, first be sure that you get the medical care you need. This is of utmost importance for your health and safety. Next, consider talking to an experienced accident lawyer to discuss the viability of your case.
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