While traffic-accident injuries sustained by occupants of cars and other enclosed vehicles can be devastating or fatal, those sustained by motorcyclists are often catastrophic in comparison. Motorcyclists—at best—are protected from the effects of accidents by helmets, leather jackets, leather or other heavy pants, and boots. As a result, their accident injuries are generally far more extensive and severe than those suffered by occupants of other vehicles.

Though motorcycle-accident fatalities were reported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to have dropped significantly in 2013 for the first time since 2009, this is only the second time yearly motorcycle fatalities have fallen since 1997. (The latest figures available from NHTSA as of January 2015 are those for the year 2013, as NHTSA takes a year to compile and report its accident data.) Despite the decline in the percentage of deaths during 2013, however, 4,668 motorcyclists were reported by NHTSA to have died as a result of accidents that year, and a great many were seriously injured.

Non-fatal, but serious, injuries generally far outnumber the deaths suffered in these accidents. As an example, the National Center for Statistics & Analysis is reported to have stated that approximately 4,550 motorcyclists were killed and 87,000 others injured in U.S. motorcycle accidents in 2009.

Head Injuries

Head injuries, according to some statistics, are the most common type of accident injury sustained by motorcyclists. According to NHTSA’s report on 2013 deaths, most of the deaths occurred in states without helmet laws. Even with the protection of helmets, however, motorcyclists easily and often sustain serious fatal or nonfatal head injuries. Traumatic brain injuries (TBI), other closed head injuries, and serious concussions often occur when motorcyclists are thrown from their bikes, causing them to strike their heads on pavement, other vehicles, trees, guardrails, or other objects at high rates of speed. This can occur when a motorcyclist is struck from the side or from behind, or when a motorcycle collides with the vehicle in front of the bike. It can also occur when uneven pavement or debris in a road throws a cycle off balance and hurls the rider from his or her seat.

Leg and Foot Injuries

Injuries to motorcyclists’ feet and legs are also extremely common. In low-speed collisions, for example, cyclists may not be thrown from their bikes, but their bikes may fall onto their legs. Motorcyclists’ leg and foot injuries also occur when other vehicles sideswipe motorcycles or when motorcyclists are forced against guardrails or other structures or objects by other vehicles. The long-term effects of such injuries can be life-altering and severe and may include amputations, nerve damage, and scarring that affects mobility.

Neck and Back Injuries

Motorcyclists frequently sustain neck and back injuries as a result of traffic-accidents. Spinal cord injuries caused by impact with pavement, other vehicles, or other structures or objects may lead to temporary or permanent paralysis. These injuries can not only affect motorcyclists’ ability to earn income and maintain their independence, but can also significantly diminish their quality of life, leave them vulnerable to complications, and shorten their life spans.

Road Rash

Road rash, despite its somewhat benign name, can cause severe injury and even death. Road rash is sustained when a motorcyclist is thrown against pavement in a collision or in an attempt to avoid being hit by another vehicle. The injuries suffered by motorcyclists when their skin scrapes against pavement upon being thrown from a bike can lead to infection, sepsis (whole-body inflammation caused by infection), amputation, nerve damage, loss of the use of affected limbs or other body parts, scarring that can affect mobility, disfigurement, and shock.

Other Injuries

The lack of protection afforded to motorcyclists by little more than helmets or other riding gear can lead to other injuries, as well. Facial and eye injuries, serious burns, knee, and soft-tissue injuries are only some of the painful and sometimes life-changing consequences of motorcyclists’ road accidents.

Recoverable Damages

Motorcyclists may be entitled to recover damages for injuries sustained in traffic accidents due to driver or other negligence or defects in motorcycles or cycle safety equipment. Damages that are generally recoverable include past and future medical costs for treatment of injuries and for complications resulting from those injuries, including such things as disfigurement and permanent physical impairment. Loss of income and earning power, pain and suffering, loss of consortium, diminished quality of life, mental anguish, physical rehabilitation, psychological and emotional counseling, and costs of rehabilitative equipment and alterations to homes or vehicles may also be recoverable. In addition, if a motorcyclist dies as a result of his or her accident injuries, certain of the motorcyclist’s immediate family members may be entitled to compensation for damages they have suffered as a result of their loved one’s death, through the institution of a wrongful-death action against the responsible parties.

Our national motorcycle-accident team has extensive experience with all types of motorcycle-accident cases, including those resulting in motorcyclists’ serious and debilitating injuries or deaths. We work with the best of experts to show how a particular motorcycle accident occurred, how another driver’s negligence, unsafe road conditions, or a defect in the rider’s motorcycle or safety equipment caused or contributed to the accident and the cyclist’s resulting injuries or death—and to determine the nature and extent of a cyclist’s injuries as well as their long-term consequences. If you have been injured or a family member has been killed in a motorcycle accident as a result of someone’s negligence or a defective motorcycle or cycle safety equipment, our esteemed motorcycle-accident attorneys can help you obtain the justice you deserve from the parties responsible for your injuries or loved one’s death.