What Are the Most Common Injuries from Motorcycle Accidents?

Motorcycle accidents are less common than car accidents, but are more likely to cause injuries when they occur.  Here, Salt Lake City motorcycle crash lawyer Darwin Overson will examine some of the most common motorcycling injuries.  If you or one of your loved ones suffered from these or any other injuries after being in a motorcycle wreck, you should contact our personal injury law firm right away to find out whether you might have an accident claim.  If the crash was caused by another person’s negligence, it may be possible to recover compensation.

Why Do Motorcycle Accidents Have Such High Rates of Death and Injury? 

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If you saw our recent blog post about the leading causes of motorcycle crashes in Utah, you might remember some of the alarming injury statistics that were uncovered by the Department of Public Safety — for example, the fact that Utah motorcycle accidents are nearly 12 times deadlier than other types of crashes.

Even when accidents aren’t fatal, serious injuries are all but guaranteed to occur.  Among the 1,179 motorcycle accidents Utah reported in 2014, 1,043 — more than 80% — resulted in injuries to riders and/or passengers.

This extraordinarily high rate of injury can be explained by a few factors:

  • Unlike passenger vehicles, motorcycles don’t offer riders much if any protection in terms of seatbelts, airbags, or other safety features.
  • Motorcycles are comparatively small, which sometimes means bikers go unnoticed by careless, inattentive drivers who aren’t paying attention to their side- or rear-view mirrors.  Their small size also means motorcycles don’t have protective crumple zones, which help prevent injury by absorbing part of the impact in a crash.
  • Motorcycles are more sensitive to road defects, such as potholes or construction debris, which might not cause problems for larger vehicles.
  • Because motorcycles don’t enclose occupants, riders and passengers are much more likely to be ejected and strike the road or another vehicle when an accident occurs, increasing the risk of serious injury.

NHTSA Crash Data: Broken Legs, Pelvic Fractures Among Top Motorcycling Injuries

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is the government agency within the Department of Transportation responsible for improving road safety in the United States.  In order to meet that goal, the NHTSA constantly conducts research into all types of accident scenarios and their resulting injuries, including motorcycle injuries.  In 2008, the NHTSA released this statement as part of a comprehensive study on motorcycle crashes:

“The analysis… showed that lower-extremity injuries were the most common injuries sustained in motorcycle crashes, followed by upper-extremity and head injuries.  Lower-extremity injuries are more frequent in motorcycle crashes; however, head, chest and abdominal injuries tend to be more severe.”

Breaking the data down into greater detail, the report found the following injury percentages:

  • Lower Extremity Injuries — 47%
  • Upper Extremity Injuries — 40%
  • Head Injuries — 35%
  • Chest Injuries — 31%
  • Spinal Cord Injuries — 20%
  • Abdominal Injuries — 15%
  • Facial Injuries — 10%

Leg injuries were the most common lower extremity injuries (27%), followed by hip injuries (18%), knee injuries (16%), thigh injuries (11%), and ankle injuries (10%).  But what specific injuries were most common?

  • Ankle — Tibia fractures and fibular malleolar fractures (about 90%).  The malleolus is the hard bony bump you feel on either side of your ankles.
  • Foot — Metatarsal fractures and tarsal fractures (53%), compared to just 1% involving broken toes, toe crush injuries, and toe degloving injuries combined.
  • Hip — Hip dislocation (37%), followed by various types of femur fractures (63% collectively).
  • Knee — Tibial plateau fractures, or broken shinbone (37%), followed by fractured patella or broken kneecap (18%).
  • Leg — Fibula fractures and tibia fractures (95%), with a tiny portion (3% and 1% respectively) involving leg amputation or laceration of the Achilles tendon.
  • Pelvis — Pelvic fractures or fractured hip (63%).  Nearly one in 10 pelvic injuries (7%) involved “substantial deformation and displacement.”
  • Thigh — Femur fractures involving the shaft of the femur (53%).  Nearly all thigh injuries involved broken femurs, except 4% that involved injuries to the femoral artery or sciatic nerve, and 2% that involved amputation above the knee.

The NHTSA study also revealed that front-impact accidents or head-on collisions accounted for the most deaths and “incapacitating” injuries (67% and 42%, respectively).  Fatal injuries were second most likely to occur in side-impact collisions (13%).

Additionally, a peer-reviewed medical study published last year in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery revealed that, among 759 patients who sustained upper extremity injuries from motorcycling, the most common injuries were shoulder injuries and fractures of the forearm, such as a fractured ulna or fractured radius.

Our Salt Lake Injury Attorneys Have the Experience to Handle Your Case

If you were injured while riding your motorcycle in Utah, you may have a right to get compensated depending on how your accident occurred.  We can also assist if you think you are the victim of bad faith insurance, or if one of your loved ones was the victim of wrongful death in Utah.  To find out whether you could have a personal injury claim in a free legal consultation, call the law offices of Overson Law at (801) 895-3143 today.


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