Many Boston residents enjoy heading out on their motorcycles, whether they want to enjoy the great weather in the spring and summer months or they enjoy the freedom of zipping through the mountains, moving smoothly around curves, and celebrating their days. Unfortunately, while motorcycles bring immense freedom and enjoyment, they can also pose the risk of serious injury in an accident.
Motorcycles offer little protection from passenger vehicles, big trucks, or the road in a serious accident. As a result, Boston motorcycle accident victims may find themselves suffering from a wide range of potential injuries, many of which can cause long-term limitations that may last for the rest of their lives.
Traumatic Brain Injury
In Boston, motorcycle riders must wear helmets at all times to help reduce the risk of traumatic brain injury. Even wearing a helmet, however, cannot eliminate the risk of traumatic brain injury. In a motorcycle accident, Boston riders may have several opportunities to suffer a traumatic brain injury, especially if they lose control of the motorcycle.
The driver’s head may strike the pavement, the vehicle that hits them, or the motorcycle, causing extreme trauma to the head. While helmet use can help cushion some of those potential effects, victims may still suffer a traumatic brain injury as the head hits the inside of the skull.
Traumatic brain injury poses many challenges. At the scene of the accident, the victim may lose consciousness. Sometimes, that loss of consciousness may last for only instants; other times, the victim may not wake up until much later. Victims who do wake at the scene may show symptoms of confusion and disorientation, especially as they try to navigate the circumstances resulting from the accident.
The lingering symptoms of traumatic brain injury can be even more difficult to manage. Often, victims suffering from traumatic brain injury must deal with memory loss. Holes in their long-term memory and challenges with short-term memory can make it difficult for them to complete relatively simple tasks, follow instructions, or remember why they walked into a particular room.
Traumatic brain injury can also interfere with focus and concentration, which can cause challenges with both work tasks and hobbies. Finally, traumatic brain injury may cause challenges with emotional regulation, causing the victim to overreact to relatively minor stimuli or react inappropriately to specific emotional situations.
When you suffer injuries in a passenger vehicle accident, the structure of your vehicle helps form a cage around you, protecting you from some of the force the accident generated. Modern passenger vehicles even have design features that cause the plastic and metal to crumple in an accident, absorbing some of the force and protecting everyone in the vehicle. Unfortunately, motorcycles do not offer the same protection. If a vehicle strikes you directly during a motorcycle accident, you may take the full force of the collision.
Motorcycle accident victims often suffer broken bones from the force of hitting the liable driver’s vehicle or from hitting the pavement. Broken bones in the hands may occur as the victim tries to throw them out to protect themselves or break their fall, while broken bones in the legs may occur when the motorcycle lands on top of them. Motorcycle accident victims may also suffer from broken bones in the ribs, which may occur from the force of the vehicle, the motorcycle landing on top of them, or hitting the pavement.
Broken bones can cause immense limitations both during and after the recovery process. While healing, Boston motorcycle accident victims with broken bones may have a hard time taking care of their usual work tasks, especially if they have broken bones in the hands and arms, which can make detailed work or sitting down to work just as difficult as a broken leg can make engaging in manual labor. Some broken bones, especially in the case of multiple broken bones, may also prevent victims from taking care of themselves. They may need help showering, getting dressed, or even feeding themselves in the immediate aftermath of the accident.
Motorcycle accidents also have a high risk of causing compound fractures, in which the bone pokes through the soft tissue surrounding the break. Sometimes, you may see the bone after the accident. Compound fractures require immediate emergency care to help protect the victim, stabilize the break, and reduce blood loss. They may require surgical attention and often have longer recovery times than other types of broken bones.
Spinal Cord Injuries
Motorcycle accidents have a high risk of causing spinal cord injury. Often, the victim’s spinal cord directly takes some of the force from the accident, or takes a great deal of force when the victim hits the pavement. The spinal cord can only withstand so much force, which means that in a motorcycle accident, it may take a great deal of damage. Sometimes, the spinal cord may partially or completely sever.
Complete spinal cord injuries, in which the spinal cord severs completely, disrupt all the nerve signals traveling through the body below the site of the injury. Victims often face full paralysis below the injury. Depending on where it occurs on the spine, paralysis can occur from the waist down or prevent the victim from moving their arms as well as their legs. Victims with complete spinal cord injuries may show some improvement in function over time but rarely regain mobility. Complete spinal cord injuries also frequently result in a loss of function in organs below the site of the injury, which can interfere with a normal quality of life and even shorten the duration of the victim’s life.
Incomplete spinal cord injuries result when the spinal cord does not sever completely in an accident, including a motorcycle accident. While the victim may not suffer full paralysis below the site of the injury, incomplete spinal cord injuries may affect mobility to varying degrees, depending on the extent of the injury and where it occurs on the spine.
Some incomplete spinal cord injury victims note reduced mobility on one side of the body, while others may notice reduced mobility throughout the body. Victims with incomplete spinal cord injuries may show more signs of healing over time, which may lead to improved mobility and increased quality of life as they heal. However, most of the time, they will continue to suffer some mobility challenges for the rest of their lives.
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Motorcycle accidents can result in crushed limbs from the vehicle that causes the accident or from the motorcycle landing on top of the rider. Some motorcycles, including tour bikes, weigh as much as 1,000 lbs. When that full weight lands on a limb, it can cause substantial damage.
Crushed limbs can result in lifelong pain and disability for the victim. Sometimes, the victim may have a hard time with any mobility in the limb after the accident. Crushed limbs may mean a long road to recovery as bones, ligaments, and tendons, and muscles must all heal from the trauma of the accident.
In extreme cases, crushing the limb may also cut off blood flow to the affected area of the body. If doctors cannot restore blood flow, it can cause the tissue in the limb to die and require amputation. Amputees often have a very high overall quality of life; however, they must learn to function within the new limitations created by their injuries. Often, amputees go through substantial physical and occupational therapy as they learn how to cope with the limitations of missing limbs.
Prosthetic devices can offer one strategy for improving overall functionality after losing a limb in a motorcycle accident. Prosthetic limbs can replicate some of the functions of a biological limb. With the latest advances in modern technology, prosthetic limbs can even provide some of the functions of a missing hand. However, prosthetics carry one immense downside: They mean ongoing, severe expenses in the victim’s life, as they wear out and require replacement.
A motorcycle accident can cause the victim’s skin to drag across the pavement, resulting in severe injuries as the road or obstacles in the road strip away the victim’s skin. Many motorcycle riders wear considerable protective gear, including leather jackets and heavy protective pants, to help protect against the risk of road rash in a minor collision. However, other Boston riders may choose to forego this protective gear, especially during the warmer summer months.
Severe road rash can cause many of the same symptoms as a severe burn. Like a burn, road rash (also considered a friction burn) can strip away the protective layer of the skin. Road rash also has an increased risk of infection since often, foreign matter from the road ends up embedded in the wound. Victims with road rash may have permanent scarring. In some cases, that scarring can also cause a loss of mobility in the affected area, especially when road rash occurs around joints.
In addition to helping decrease the risk of traumatic brain injury, helmet use can also reduce the risk of facial injuries in motorcycle accidents. Many victims get thrown off of their bikes and into the road. They may slide, hit debris in the road, or even hit obstacles face-on in the accident. Not only can motorcycle accidents cause serious cuts and lacerations, they can also cause severe road rash on the face, especially if the motorcycle rider does not wear a helmet that offers adequate protection.
Facial injuries can be particularly devastating to many riders. Often, riders who get hit in the face can suffer broken or crushed bones in the face, which may require careful reconstruction. Lacerations and road rash may leave severe scarring behind. While experienced plastic surgeons may partially restore appearance, the rider’s appearance may suffer permanent changes as a result of facial injuries in a motorcycle accident.
Helmets can also protect against neck injuries, since they can hold the motorcycle rider’s head and neck stable in an accident. However, motorcycle accident victims may suffer serious injuries to the neck due to the force of the accident. Victims may suffer from whiplash, which can cause ongoing pain and tension in the neck and shoulders and restrict mobility during recovery.
In more extreme cases, victims may suffer from herniated discs in the neck, in which the force of the accident causes the soft inner tissue of the disc to bulge out, pressing on nerves and causing serious pain. Herniated discs not only restrict movement in the neck, they may lead to numbness, tingling, or pain in the arms and fingers on one or both sides of the body.
Neck injuries can pose immense complications for many victims since they can interfere with normal daily activities and make it hard for victims to move around normally. While some neck injuries may resolve on their own over time, others may require surgery or even lead to a permanent loss of mobility or ongoing pain for the victim.
Even if a motorcycle accident does not impact the spinal cord, it may still cause serious back injuries, which can lead to long-term complications for the victim. Back injuries, from herniated discs to muscle damage, may cause immense loss of mobility or ongoing discomfort when engaging in regular activities. Often, victims with back injuries have a hard time sitting for too long, standing, or engaging in normal leisure activities. Back pain can cause many people to have to give up their hobbies or miss out on time with friends, which may cause immense challenges every day.
If you suffer any injury in a Boston motorcycle accident, do not try to handle your claim on your own. Instead, talk to an experienced motorcycle accident attorney to learn more about your right to compensation, including how to identify all parties that may share liability for your accident and what compensation you should pursue.