Road rash is a common term used for an injury that happens when someone’s skin runs across the surface of a road. When a motorcycle crashes, the driver almost always hits the ground putting the rider at risk for serious road rash injuries.
Types of Road Rashes
There are three types of road rashes common to motorcycle crashes. They are:
- Open Wound: A wound that breaks the skin and typically can’t be stitched or closed. All road rashes are open wounds.
- Abrasion: An open wound injury caused by the skin scraping a surface such as asphalt or concrete. With an abrasion injury, the skin is damaged with some layers of the skin torn away, and the skin is severely damaged, but still intact.
- Avulsion: An abrasion that goes deeper with the skin being scraped away—completely or in part—at the wound site. Often the fat, muscle and/or bone underneath is exposed, and there is not enough skin to stitch back together. Some severe abrasion become avulsions when a doctor has to cut away skin to help the healing process.
Degrees of Road Rash
Similar to burns, road rashes can be categorized in degrees:
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- First degree. A first degree road rash is an abrasion with the outer layer of the skin turning red from the contact. This can usually be cleaned with no further treatment.
- Second degree. Typically an abrasion that is bordering on an avulsion. The layer of skin is broken and is often bleeding, but the skin is not torn away and will usually heal on its own with minor treatment. Scarring will be light or nonexistent.
- Third degree. This is an avulsion where some of the skin layer is gone exposing the fat, muscle and even bone underneath. This will take significant treatment and eventually a skin graft in most cases. Permanent disfiguring and scarring is a trademark of a third degree road rash.
Causes of Motorcycle Road Rash
The dynamics of a motorcycle crash lends itself to a road rash injury. Since in a crash, the rider usually ends up on the ground, when you add speed and a rough surface, then the rider is almost certain to get a road rash. Some of the accidents that typically end with road rash injuries are:
- A lay down: This happens when the rider—often by choice—leans the bike over to the point where the wheels no longer grip the road and the bike slides on its side. Depending on the speed, the biker will scrape alone the road for a significant amount of time.
- Front bike ejection: When another vehicle turns in the path of a bike, the bike will stop almost instantly sending the rider over the handle bars and onto the ground.
- Side bike ejection: When a rider is sideswiped or turns to avoid a collision and hit a car or object sideways, this can cause the rider to eject to the side of the bike. The road rash occurs when/if the rider scrapes along the ground.
Road Rash Injury Prevention
If a motorist pulls out in front of you to make that left hand turn, there may be no way to avoid the crash, and road rash could be one of your injuries even if it is not your fault. That said, here are some ways to avoid road rash injuries:
- Stay upright on the bike. Seems like common sense, but driving erratically, too fast for conditions and aggressively in and out of traffic can cause the bike to go down putting the rider at risk for road rash and other serious injuries.
- Wear layers of protection. Any exposed skin, especially the sides, back, legs and arms will make any road rash more severe. Layered clothing offers the best protection as the layers have to be worn away before the skin is damaged.
- Drive defensively. As with all motorcycle crashes, the low profile and lack of awareness by other drivers can lead to serious injuries, including road rash. Always be vigilant, stay out of blind spots, and never assume that the driver of a vehicle sees you—even if they are looking right at you.
Personal Injury Damages for Road Rash Injuries in California:
When someone is injured in motorcycle accident and receives a road rash, there are different types of damages he or she is entitled to under California law. First, the injured rider needs to prove that driver or other party is negligent meaning that they were at fault in the accident. Then the law allows the injured person to collect money for certain losses sustained as a result of the crash.
These are some of the types of damages allowed under California law:
- Medical bills: All bills for any treatment related to the accident including EMT, ambulance or air lift.
- Future Rehab and treatment: Skin grafts are common with road rash injuries, and those and all future treatments are covered.
- Permanent disfigurement: Scarring, disfigurement of arms, face and legs are common to motorcycle road rash injuries.
- Pain and Suffering: Road rashes are painful, and the law allows you to be compensated for pain during the accident, hospital stay, rehab and future treatments.
- Lost wages: Any wages from being out of work for the accident and for recovery and rehabilitation.
- Future lost income: If you are unable to work at all or at the same level, you can get future earnings.
- Loss of Quality of Life: Any permanent damages that reduces your quality of life.
- Property damage: Motorcycle, helmet, riding gear and any personal property that was damaged in the crash.
Talk to a Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident Attorney About Your Injuries
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident and suffered a road rash, contact Los Angeles Motorcycle Accident Lawyer Allen Vaysberg. The consultation is free, and you will be advised on the law and have your personal case evaluated.