How to Handle Most Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries

Just like people who drive cars, most people who ride motorcycles don’t think about the possibility of being involved in accidents when they go out for rides. Instead, motorcyclists enjoy the feeling of freedom from riding on the open road surrounded by the sights and sounds of the surrounding environment, and most look forward to the adventures of riding. Unfortunately, however, motorcycle crashes are far too common, and people who ride are much likelier to sustain serious injuries when they are involved in accidents.

If you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of dealing with the aftermath of a motorcycle crash and resulting injuries, it might be difficult for you to determine your best options for handling them. Here’s some information about the most common motorcycle accident injuries and what to do if you are facing them.

Motorcycle Accident Statistics Overview

The following motorcycle accident statistics from 2020, the most recent year for which data is available, should provide an overview of these types of collisions:

  • Motorcycle fatality crash rate in 2020 – 31.64 per 100 million vehicle miles traveled vs. 1.15 for passenger vehicles and 0.67 for light trucks (Insurance Information Institute)
  • Estimated 5,579 motorcycle fatalities and 82,859 injuries in 2020 (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration)
  • In 2020, 27% of motorcyclists killed in accidents were under the influence vs. 23% of passenger vehicle drivers (NHTSA)
  • Among motorcyclists who were killed in accidents in 2020, 34% overall were speeding, and 45% of those between the ages of 24 and 29 were speeding (NHTSA)
  • In states without universal helmet laws, 57% of those who died were unhelmeted in 2020 (NHTSA)
  • Half of the fatal crashes in 2020 occurred on the weekends between 6 pm on Fridays and 5:59 am on Mondays (NHTSA)
  • The top five contributing factors for motorcycle crashes involving serious injuries or deaths in 2020 were speeding (30.9%), turning improperly (22.2%), failing to yield to motorcycles (16.1%), driving or riding under the influence (8.9%), and running red lights or stop signs (4.4%) (University of California, Berkeley)

As you can see, motorcycle crashes can result in deaths and serious injuries. Riders and motorists must take proactive steps to reduce their risks of being involved in these types of collisions.

Common Types of Injuries in Motorcycle Crashes

Motorcycle crashes can cause many different types of injuries. However, several types of injuries happen more frequently. Below are some of the most common types of motorcycle injuries that can result from motorcycle collisions.

Lower Extremity Injuries

When a motor vehicle crashes into a motorcyclist, injuries to the lower extremities commonly result. Motorcycle riders often bear the brunt of crashes with their lower bodies when they are struck from the side, thrown from their bikes, or pinned underneath.

The following are some of the most common types of lower extremity injuries that occur in motorcycle crashes:

  • Injuries to the ankles – Moderate to severe injuries in 10% of motorcycle crashes involving injuries to the lower extremities
  • Foot injuries – Moderate to severe injuries in 10% of crashes involving lower extremity injuries
  • Injuries to the thigh – Moderate to severe injuries in 11% of crashes involving lower extremity injuries
  • Knee injuries – Moderate to severe injuries in 16% of crashes involving lower extremity injuries
  • Injuries to the pelvis- Moderate to severe injuries in 18% of crashes involving lower extremity injuries
  • Leg injuries – Moderate to severe injuries in 27% of crashes involving lower extremity injuries

The NHTSA conducted a study of motorcycle crashes between 2003 and 2005 and found that 47% of injured motorcyclists suffered lower extremity injuries, and 87% of those who did sustain injuries to the lower extremities suffered one or more injuries rated as moderate to severe. Among those who suffered lower extremity injuries, 27% also sustained injuries to other bodily regions.

Road Rash

Road rash injuries happen when a motorcyclist is dragged across the pavement and are among the most common types of injuries that happen in motorcycle collisions. Road rash injuries are abrasions of the skin that occur when the skin is rubbed off when it is scraped across a hard surface. These types of injuries commonly occur when a motorcyclist is thrown from their bike and skids across the pavement or is dragged by a vehicle.

Head Injuries

Head injuries are among the most severe types of injuries that motorcyclists might suffer in collisions. These types of injuries might occur when a rider is thrown from their bike or is struck by debris in the accident, striking their head. Helmets can help to reduce the risk of head injuries.


of injuries to the head and face can happen in car accidents, including:

  • Closed traumatic brain injuries – Occur when the brain strikes the interior of the skull or is violently sloshed around because of the force of an accident
  • Penetarting traumatic brain injuries – Happen when an object penetrates through the skull and into the brain
  • Skull fractures
  • Severe lacerations
  • Facial fractures
  • Facial lacerations
  • Brain contusions
  • Brain swelling

Traumatic brain injuries can range in severity. Severe TBIs can leave motorcycle crash victims with permanent disabilities and the need for ongoing care for the rest of their lives. Mild TBIs are commonly called concussions. While they are not as serious as severe TBIs, they can still have a lasting impact on the victim.

Fractured Bones

Fractures commonly occur in motorcycle crashes involving higher rates of speed, but they can also occur when a motorcyclist is struck by a vehicle or thrown from their bike.

The following are some of the common fractures that occur in motorcycle collisions:

  • Leg fractures
  • Ankle fractures
  • Pelvic fractures
  • Hip fractures
  • Rib fractures
  • Arm fractures
  • Wrist fractures
  • Vertebral fractures
  • Facial fractures
  • Skull fractures

When a motorcyclist is struck from the side, they might suffer fractures to the lower extremities, pelvis, and hips. Wrist and arm fractures are common when motorcyclists are thrown from their bikes and instinctively reach out to brace themselves while falling. Rib fractures are more common when motorcyclists are struck by vehicles with higher profiles. Finally, facial and skull fractures are more common when riders are unhelmeted at the time of their collisions.

Spinal Injuries

Spinal injuries can occur in a forceful crash. When the spinal cord is damaged, the victim can be left with partial or total paralysis from the injury site and below. Other back injuries that commonly occur in motorcycle accidents include slipped or herniated discs, nerve damage, vertebral fractures, muscle tears, and others.

Dealing With Motorcycle Crash Injuries

  • Seek Medical Attention Immediately

If you are involved in a motorcycle crash, you should seek medical attention immediately after the police have responded. Even if you are unsure if you were injured, it’s still important to get checked out by a doctor to make sure you are uninjured. There are certain types of injuries you might suffer in a motorcycle accident that can have delayed symptoms, and some of these injuries can worsen without prompt treatment.

The following are types of injuries that can have delayed symptoms following motorcycle collisions:

  • Brain and head injuries
  • Spinal injuries (disc herniations, spinal cord bruising)
  • Internal bleeding
  • Organ damage
  • Whiplash
  • Neck injuries
  • Sprains and strains

Some of these injuries can become severe without prompt treatment. For example, bruising of the spinal cord can cause swelling that places pressure on the spine and could lead to paralysis without immediate treatment. Similarly, the damage from a traumatic brain injury can spread and cause a far worse injury than what was originally sustained.

Follow Your Doctor’s Recommendations

After you have received initial care, make sure to follow all of your doctor’s recommendations. Attend every appointment and follow through with any referrals you are provided. Following your treatment plan can help to facilitate your full recovery and allow you to return to your life much faster.

Consult an Attorney

If your motorcycle crash was caused by the actions of another motorist, you should consider speaking to an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer. Injuries from a motorcycle accident are often severe and can take months or longer to recover. Some injuries leave crash victims facing a lifetime of disability without being able to return to their former careers.

Consulting a motorcycle accident attorney might help you to understand your legal options. People who are seriously injured in motorcycle accidents might be entitled to pursue compensation for the losses they have suffered because of the negligent actions of others that caused their injuries.