Motorcycle crashes: injuries and risk factors

Motorcycles offer lots of freedom to riders. There is nothing between you and the wind, the sun, and the fresh air. Of course, sometimes that comes at a price; there is literally nothing protecting you from injury in the event of an accident.

Injuries in motorcycle crashes can be particularly severe because there aren’t barriers and protective devices to cushion the impact. A car wreck can result in serious injuries – or even wrongful death – and passenger vehicles are replete with safety features like steel frames, airbags, padding and seat belts. None of those exist on a motorcycle, so the riders’ bodies take the full brunt of the impact.

Even when motorcyclists take safety precautions like going through motorcycle operation training, wearing proper safety gear (including a helmet, which is required for all riders by Tennessee law), and riding in a responsible manner, injuries can still be severe. Common motorcycle accident injuries include:

  • Internal trauma and organ damage;
  • Traumatic brain injuries (concussions, coup-contrecoup injuries, subdural contusions, diffuse anoxal injuries and more);
  • Compound bone fractures, often severe enough to require surgery, pins, plates or reconstruction;
  • Friction burns, scrapes and lacerations (also known as “road rash”); and
  • Paralysis (including quadriplegia, paraplegia or monoplegia, which is the paralysis of a single limb)

Risk factors

Motorcycle crashes are sadly common on our state’s roads. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that, in 2015 alone, there were 118 motorcyclists killed in crashes in Tennessee. Hundreds more riders endured long-lasting and life-changing injuries.

There are myriad circumstances in which motorcycle accidents can occur, but there are some risk factors of which riders should be aware.

  • Decreased visibility: Motorcycles have a much lower visual impact than a large car or truck. Wearing bright colors or reflective clothing, as well as using daytime running headlights, can make riders easier to see.
  • Alcohol use: Many motorcyclists injured in crashes have been drinking. Staying sober before riding leaves riders more able to react quickly and attempt to avoid crashes.
  • Weather conditions: Motorcycles are much more vulnerable to sudden downpours, icy conditions or fog than other vehicles are. Riders should seriously consider staying off the roads when conditions are poor to prevent injury.

No matter how safe you ride, motorcycle wrecks can and do occur. If you or someone you love has been hurt in one because of someone else’s negligence, contact an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your case.

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