The term road rash brings to mind a child’s scraped knees and elbows after falling off a bike. Few people realize that road rash can be an extreme and even deadly injury when it occurs in motorcycle, scooter, bicycle, pedestrian, and motor vehicle crashes.
Road rash occurs when friction with a rough surface (usually pavement) rips, burns, and wears away layers of skin, severing nerves and blood vessels and embedding dirt and grime in the wound. In its most severe forms, road rash can expose muscle tissue and bone, cause widespread, deadly infection, require multiple surgeries to treat, and leave the victim with large, ragged, discolored scars.
Below, we examine the details of severe road rash injuries. If you or a loved one suffered road rash in a motorcycle accident, contact an experienced motor vehicle and motorcycle accident injury attorney today for a free case evaluation.
Degrees of Road Rash Injuries
Medical professionals classify road rash by degree, similar to the method for classifying burns. In fact, burns and road rash share many similar characteristics and treatment modalities.
First Degree Road Rash
First degree road rash injuries are the least severe but that does not mean they are a walk in the park. They can cause severe discomfort. A first degree road rash occurs when friction wears away the outermost layer of the victim’s skin. It does not necessarily bleed, but usually causes pain, redness, and swelling, which typically subsides within a week. Basic first aid treatment, such as the application of antiseptic cream and a bandage, might resolve these injuries, but victims should seek immediate medical attention if pain, swelling, or redness persist or get worse.
Second Degree Road Rash
Second degree road rash injuries occur when friction tears away several layers of skin. They often result in bleeding, and thus have a risk of infection. Second degree abrasions often require medical attention to clean and bandage, and may take more than a week to heal. A doctor may also prescribe antibiotics as a precaution or to treat an evident infection.
Third Degree Road Rash
Third degree road rash injuries are severe, potentially life-threatening injuries. They feature the loss of all layers of skin, and may expose and damage bone, nerve tissue, and muscle. Third degree abrasions require immediate, emergency medical attention. The victim may need one or more skin graft surgeries to help repair the wound. These injuries carry a high risk of infection, are extremely painful, and often require hospitalization and months of recovery time.
Treatment of Road Rash Injuries
Treatments depend on the severity of a road rash injury. A first degree injury may not require professional medical attention; you may treat it at home with antiseptic cream and a bandage. However, it is motorcycle accident lawyer. If you have any doubt about the severity of the injury, seek medical attention right away.
Second and third degree road rash require medical attention. You cannot treat them at home, and you risk life-threatening health complications if you try. A trained medical professional should always assess, clean, and repair these injuries. In particular, dirt and grime embedded deep in the wound pose a risk of a dangerous infection. Removing them requires technical skills and medical knowledge to avoid complications. In some cases, treatment may require skin graft surgery and isolation in a specialized medical ward similar to a burn unit.
The more severe your road rash, the longer your recovery will generally take. The most severe cases can take months for a victim to fully recover. In some cases, the injury is so severe that the victim never fully recovers. To give yourself the best chance of completely recovering, always seek prompt medical attention.
Protecting Yourself From Road Rash as a Motorcyclist
As a practical matter, motorists and bicyclists cannot do much to protect themselves against crash-related road rash, other than following generally safe practices while driving and riding. It is simply not practical for either group to take extra measures to safeguard against a long slide on a road surface, because it happens too rarely (for motorists) or because extra gear would get in the way (for bicyclists).
Motorcyclists, however, do have options for avoiding a road rash injury. A common saying among motorcyclists goes: dress for the slide, not the ride. These days, bikers can protect themselves by wearing specialized clothing built from durable, slide-resistant materials and containing padding that can minimize or even prevent road rash in a motorcycle accident. Boots, gloves, and a motorcycle accident lawyer can also further reduce the risk of road rash for motorcyclists.
Long-Term Road Rash Complications
Like a severe burn, a bad road rash injury can require significant medical intervention and long hospital stays.
It can also cause substantial and lasting health complications, including:
- Infection. Dirt and grime embedded in a road rash wound introduce dangerous bacteria into the victim’s body. Because road rash wounds take a long time to heal, infection risk remains high even after doctors remove debris and treat the patient with antibiotics.
- Large, discolored scars. Sometimes doctors cannot remove all of the foreign material embedded in a wound. Instead, the wound eventually heals over it, leaving what doctors sometimes refer to as a traumatic tattoo, or dark-colored scar. Scars can cause profound emotional trauma, too, depending on its location on the rider’s body.
- Limited movement. The physical and mechanical properties of scar tissue differ from that of healthy tissue. Scarring from a road rash injury can limit a victim’s range of motion in the affected area (such as by affecting how far a joint can bend) or by how skin tissue stretches or creases when pulled by a muscle (such as how facial skin responds when a person smiles).
- Emotional injuries. A road rash injury can inflict agonizing pain. The scar it leaves behind can make the victim feel self-conscious and socially withdrawn. While emotional injuries are not as visible as the road rash scar itself, they are no less detrimental to the victim’s wellbeing.
These are just a few of the potentially serious, long-term complications of road rash injuries, all of which deserve compensation if the victim suffered them because of someone else’s unreasonably dangerous decisions or actions.
Compensation for Road Rash Injuries
Although some road rash injuries happen because of circumstances beyond anyone’s control, most of them result from a bad decision or wrongful action on the part of one of the parties to a traffic accident. Victims of these accidents who suffer severe road rash (and other types of) injuries deserve compensation from the at-fault party, as well as from anyone else legally responsible for that party’s actions or for contributing to the cause of the crash.
Two of a motorcycle accident lawyer’s most important jobs are to identify those parties with legal liability and to evaluate the amount of harm those parties caused.
Parties Potentially Liable for Road Rash
Every traffic accident leading to a road rash injury has its own unique facts and circumstances.
The parties who have legal liability for victims’ injuries can vary, but often include:
- Drivers of all types of vehicles motorcycle accident lawyer by making a bad decision or taking careless action behind the wheel
- Employers of drivers of commercial vehicles who cause a crash;
- Manufacturers of vehicles and vehicle parts, if a dangerous mechanical defect causes a vehicle to crash;
- Government agencies, if a preventable and unreasonably dangerous road condition leads to an accident.
These are just a few examples, of course. Individuals, companies, or government entities whose unreasonably dangerous decisions or actions lead to a crash that causes road rash could have a legal liability to the crash victims.
Potential Damages for Road Rash
Just as the parties who have legal liability for a road rash injury can vary, so too can the types and amounts of damages victims may have the right to recover.
Generally, however, damages for road rash often include:
- Medical expenses related to treating the injury, including the cost of emergency care, hospitalization, doctor visits, therapy, medication, and medical equipment.
- Non-medical expenses incurred because of the injury, such as the cost of hiring help with daily tasks while recuperating;
- Lost income from missing work while recovering from the injury, and from any disability that limits the ability to work in the future;
- Pain, suffering, and diminished quality of life caused by the injury, which may include emotional suffering because of road rash scars.
There is no guarantee that a road rash victim will recover any of the types of damages above, nor is there any standard amount of compensation a victim might receive. The types and amounts of damages vary widely depending upon the severity of the road rash injury, the strength of the victim’s claim for damages, and the financial resources of the parties with legal liability.
The most reliable way to obtain maximum compensation for a road rash injury is to hire an experienced traffic accident injury attorney to represent you in taking legal action against the parties at fault.
Making the Most of Settlement Negotiations
By identifying parties at fault, and evaluating the full value of a claim, an experienced road rash injury lawyer puts a road rash injury victim in a position to obtain the largest amount of monetary damages available by law. Most (but not all) road rash claims settle out of court, meaning the victim agrees to a payment from the at-fault party in exchange for agreeing not to pursue further legal action against that party. Achieving the highest possible settlement requires skilled, careful negotiation on the part of a seasoned motorcycle accident attorney.
In many cases, the insurance company that issued a liability insurance policy to the at-fault party pays the negotiated settlement amount. Sometimes, that company will try to avoid maximum liability by contacting a road rash victim directly—before the victim has a lawyer—to offer a quick settlement of the victim’s claim. The offer an insurance company makes in situations like these rarely comes close to the full amount of damages the victim needs and deserves for the road rash injury and the difficulty it has caused.
Rather than attempt to deal with the insurance company directly, road rash victims virtually always benefit from turning all negotiations over to a skilled lawyer who speaks the language of insurance companies. By hiring a lawyer with years of negotiation experience, the road rash victim levels the playing field with the insurance company, setting the case up for a fair and reasonable financial resolution.
Hiring an attorney also serves another crucial purpose in negotiations: it gives the road rash victim access to sound advice about when to say no to a settlement offer and, when necessary, to take a claim to trial in front of a judge and jury. Road rash victims tend to achieve more favorable outcomes when they have a lawyer on their side who can say “We’ll see you in court” to the at-fault party’s representatives, and mean it.
Road Rash Victims Have Rights. Lawyers Can Help.
Most traffic accidents resulting in severe road rash injuries happen because someone other than the injured victim made a poor decision or engaged in dangerous actions. The victim must live with the consequences of those actions, which in the case of a severe road rash injury can include agonizing pain, long hospital stays, multiple surgeries, dangerous infections, and lasting, disfiguring scars.
These harms deserve meaningful compensation. Experienced traffic accident injury attorneys can help victims obtain it. By investigating the facts and motorcycle accident lawyer, negotiating with skill and discipline, and advocating for the victim’s rights in court, a lawyer gives the victim the best possible chance at recovering maximum money damages.
If you or a loved one suffered a severe road rash injury as a result of any sort of traffic accident, speak with an experienced traffic accident injury lawyer today for a free, confidential, no-obligation case evaluation.