Understanding Motorcycle Accidents and Injuries

Most of us understand that motorcycles are more dangerous than cars.   While motorcycles account for less than 5% of all motorized vehicles on the road, the number of serious injuries and fatalities, relative to this small percentage, far outweigh those from the remaining 95%.  Causes of motorcycle accidents are, in some respects, no different than those for cars and trucks.  Both may be caused by operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol, speed, reckless driving, or inattention.  However, there are some causes of accidents involving motorcycles that separate them as a unique group. 

Below are some common causes of motorcycle accidents not found in the average car versus car type collision.

Accidents Involving Motorcycles


Lane-Splitting occurs when a rider drives his or her bike between two lanes of traffic where those two lanes are heading in the same direction.  Lane splitting commonly occurs in congested traffic where the rider attempts to maneuver between cars to move beyond the stationary traffic ahead.  Some riders will try this in non-stationary traffic as well, where traffic is relatively slow. 

Lane-splitting is inherently dangerous and against the law in most jurisdictions.  Other drivers have no reason to expect that a rider is passing them in such close proximity.  For this reason, a car can inadvertently move farther or closer to adjacent vehicles at any moment.  In that case, the lane-splitting rider may lose his open path of travel and become potentially injured due to a crash between themselves and a car, truck or commercial vehicle. 

Road Hazards 

Unlike cars, motorcycles depend on speed and balance to keep moving.  While road hazards can matter to a truck or car, they impact a motorcycle rider differently. Dangers that are even minimally hazardous can quickly become matters of life or death of the motorcyclist. Gravel is an excellent example of this.  While gravel may fly out from under the spinning wheel of a car, loose gravel may cause a bike to fly out from under the rider.   Wet surfaces are principally similar.  Other road hazards involving animals or larger debris may result in a driver being thrown from their motorcycle, resulting in serious injuries.

Fixed Objects

A fixed object, in this context, refers to an object that is a stationary part of the roadway, naturally occurring or man-made, and is secured to the ground.  There is no minimizing the inherent dangers of a rider hitting a fixed object at a high rate of speed.  The motorcyclist is inherently at a much higher risk for injuries than drivers surrounded by metal.   By some calculations, 25% of all deaths involving motorcycles involve a driver making contact with a fixed object, while care accident fatalities are less than 19%

Injuries Involving Motorcycles

Road Rash Injuries Caused by Motorcycle Accidents

Road rash refers typically to abrasions, scrapes, or surface burns caused when a person’s body collides with a road surface at some rate of speed.  Motorcyclists may reduce the possibility of road rash by wearing protective clothing and gear such as leather, gloves, chaps, and a helmet.  If a rider has road rash after an accident, treatment could range from simple first aid to surgery involving skin grafts. 

If another person’s negligence caused an accident involving road rash, be sure to take photos of your injuries for your personal injury case.  Remember, your attorney needs to provide an insurance adjuster with documented evidence of your injuries. This can be very powerful in helping to visualize your pain and suffering.  As always, a picture is worth a thousand words.    

Bone Fractures Caused by Motorcycle Accidents

Remember, to have a successful personal injury case you must not only prove the other driver was at fault, but you will also have to prove your injuries.  This will be easy to prove in major accidents involving an immediate emergency room visit.  For instance, X-rays and MRIs are almost always taken, and proof of injuries are then memorialized in the hospital medical records.  In such cases, it is hard for the adjuster to dispute what caused the injuries.  But other fractures happen too… 

Because bikes will fall to one side or another in an accident, fractures to the wrist or arms quickly happen as the rider extends their arm out to brace themselves when falling.  A rider’s leg can also become caught under their bike as it goes to the ground.  In minor to moderate accidents involving motorcycles, an injured person may feel shaken up after an accident and then fail to get immediate care.  This approach could inadvertently cause doubt in an adjuster’s mind about the causal relationship between your injury and the accident. 

Always decrease the time between the accident and initial treatment.  This will help keep doubt out of the adjuster’s mind as to what caused what.  On the surface, it may seem unreasonable that any adjuster could think this way.  But, where three or more weeks pass with no treatment, the insurance adjuster will certainly begin to wonder if any other event happened inside that period that could also account for your fracture.  The lesson here is simple; always document suspected injuries, including minor to moderate fractures with medical attention as soon as possible. 

Internal Injuries as a Result of a Motorcycle Accident 

Unlike cars and trucks, bikes provide no external protection to riders.  Several kinds of internal injuries may occur if a rider collides with a fixed object or another moving object.  Penetrating injuries occur when a foreign object enters the body, causing an open wound.  Treatment for this kind of injury is addressed by an emergency room physician with stitches or, in more severe cases, emergency surgery.  Penetrating injuries are relatively obvious. 

However, other non-penetrating internal injuries are not always as obvious.  Injuries caused by blunt force trauma (an impact to the body that does not break the skin) may look like severe bruising only.  Keep in mind that hidden injuries may exist.  Sudden deceleration of the body against a fixed or moving object can cause hidden vascular tears resulting in internal bleeding.   When you see a doctor for your injuries, thoroughly verbalize all of of the areas in your body where you are experiencing pain.

Remember, a small point of impact on your body does not mean that there can not be a serious internal injury underneath.

Spinal Cord Injuries Because of a Motorcycle Accident

Injuries to the neck and back caused by a motorcycle accident could range from a simple soft tissue sprain to paralysis.  After your initial exam by a doctor, be it in the emergency room or otherwise, follow-up care with a back specialist should be your next consideration.  This is especially true where accident-related back pain is persistent.  If you feel your current treating physician does not fully understand the pain you are in, you may consider getting a second opinion from a specialist.  

Brain Injuries That Result From Motorcycle Accidents   

Probably one of the most common injuries in motorcycle accidents involves concussions.  A concussion is a traumatic brain injury where the head suddenly decelerates while the brain continues to move forward and strikes (concusses) the skull’s internal surface.  Additionally, the brain’s sudden movement can cause it to twist and bounce, causing chemical changes and possible damage to brain cells.  A concussion can occur with or without a helmet. 

Following a concussion, post-concussive syndrome may occur.  In post-concussive syndrome, the injured victim will begin to experience headaches, foggy-headedness, decreased coordination, headaches, vomiting, and dizziness.  While a concussion is considered a closed brain injury, other serious injuries involving open head wounds or a fractured skull are more obvious and would certainly be immediately addressed by emergency room medical staff. 

However, even if you do not have any obvious physical signs of a head trauma, please always make sure that you speak to a doctor soon after any accident or injury involving your head.

Atlanta & Duluth Georgia Motorcycle Accident Attorneys

If you are reading this because you are researching information about motorcycle accidents for yourself or someone else that has been in a motorcycle accident, please contact us. We provide free consultations and we are not pushy, so there is no obligation. We are happy to answer any questions and speak to your or anyone that wants to know more about the process of moving forward after a motorcycle accident involving injuries.

To speak with us, call us today at (770) 717-5100 or contact us online.

Atlanta Motorcycle Accident Lawyer