What Are the Most Common Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents?

Motorcycle accidents are known to cause catastrophic injuries and even death, particularly in traffic-heavy areas like New York City. 

Recent statistics from the NHTSA (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration) state that motorcyclists accounted for 14% of traffic fatalities in the United States in 2019 despite making up a much smaller percentage of the vehicles on the road. In the same year, motorcyclists were around 29 times as likely to die in an accident than car occupants involved in traffic accidents. 

Furthermore, 84,000 motorcyclists were injured across the nation in 2019. In this article, personal injury attorneys Glenn and Robin Herman explain the most common injuries that occur in motorcycle accidents and how motorcycle accident victims can seek compensation for their injuries. 

Most Common Injuries Involved in NYC Motorcycle Accidents

Most non-fatal motorcycle accidents involve damage to the lower extremities (legs), but head and chest injuries are also common, and when upper body injuries do occur, they are usually much more severe than typical motorcycle accident lower body injuries. 

All kinds of injuries that occur in motorcycle accidents happen at a wide range of severities.  There are many factors that affect the severity of motorcycle accident injuries: 

  • The size of the motorcycle.
  • The size and weight of other vehicles involved.
  • The direction of the vehicles involved. 
  • The speed each vehicle was traveling. 
  • Whether or not the motorcyclist was wearing a helmet.

In collisions with cars, motorcyclists frequently experience the following injuries: 

    • Whiplash — one of the most common motorcycle accident injuries, whiplash is a neck injury that occurs as a result of forceful, rapid back-and-forth movement of the neck. Whiplash varies greatly in severity; sometimes, it may involve soreness that clears up on its own or with the use of ice and over-the-counter pain medication, while in other cases, it requires urgent medical attention. 
    • Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) — which are a variety of brain dysfunctions caused by an outside force exerted against the skull. Symptoms of TBIs include confusion, dizziness, slurred speech, blurry vision, and difficulty concentrating. In some cases, TBIs can lead to lifelong impairment, depending on the severity of the injury and which part of the brain sustained damage. 
    • Spinal injuries — any injury to the spine or spinal cord require urgent medical attention and are likely to lead to permanent impairment. 
  • Broken bones — broken bones are the most common injury in motorcycle accidents, and it is most likely that motorcyclists will break a bone in their legs or feet if they are involved in a collision with a car. Because the kinds of breaks involved in motorcycle accidents can be complicated and severe, they can cause lifelong pain and decreased mobility.
  • Amputations — because motorcyclists are so vulnerable in accidents compared to car passengers, entire limbs can be separated from the rest of the body, or be damaged so severely that they are left unsalvageable.  
  • Lacerations and abrasions — lacerations are any breakage of the skin, while abrasions are injuries that also result in removal of the skin. These injuries can lead to severe blood loss and require large surgeries. 
  • Internal bleeding — an effect of large amounts of force being exerted on a motorcyclist’s body is internal bleeding, which is any bleeding that occurs inside the body. In addition to the internal damage that causes the bleeding, the collection of the blood itself in places where it is not supposed to be can lead to severe consequences and even death without adequate medical attention. 
  • Organ damage — though lower body injuries are far more common, upper body injuries often involve organ damage, which means that they are usually markedly more severe. Vital organs including the lungs, stomach and intestines, liver, kidneys, and, of course, the brain can be damaged at varying degrees of severity in motorcycle accidents. 
  • Disfigurement and scarring — many of the injuries above can lead to permanent disfigurement and scarring. Some motorcycle accident victims may require extensive reconstructive surgeries, and others may experience limited mobility and other forms of impairment for the rest of their lives. 
  • Death — Motorcyclists are incredibly vulnerable to severe injury and 29 times more likely than car drivers and passengers to die in accidents. 

Motorcycle Accidents Compensation

If you suffered injury in a motorcycle accident that was not your fault, you may be entitled to compensation from the other party or their insurance company. If a car driver’s negligence led to your injuries, it is important to discuss your case with a personal injury attorney in New York who has experience handling motorcycle accident injury cases to ensure that you get the compensation you deserve. 

Because of the severity of the injuries caused by motorcycle accidents, you may have already reached the limit of what your insurance policy will cover, or you may have had your claim denied. In either case, a personal injury attorney can help you navigate the legal system, avoid lowball sums and claim denials, and receive compensation for lost wages and future potential earnings. 

Unlike people injured in car accidents, motorcyclists do not have to meet the “serious injury” threshold before they can pursue a personal injury lawsuit in New York State. In other car accident situations, when you are a pedestrian, passenger, bicyclist, or scooter operator, for example, you have to sustain a “serious injury” as defined by New York Insurance Law §5102, before you can be compensated for your personal injuries.  A serious injury is defined as:

  • Death
  • Dismemberment
  • Significant disfigurement
  • A fracture
  • Loss of a fetus
  • Permanent loss of the use of a body organ, member, function, or system
  • Permanent consequential limitation of the use of a body organ or member
  • A significant limitation of the use of a body function or system
  • A medically determined non-permanent injury or impairment that impacts the victim’s daily activities

While you do not have to meet the “serious injury” threshold, motorcycle, and certain classes of moped operators, are, unfortunately, not entitled to collect No-Fault insurance benefits.  This means that your motorcycle insurance will not pay the cost of your ambulance, hospital, medical bills or lost wages if you miss time from work.  In these situations, you need to look to your personal health insurance and to the party that caused your injuries to be compensated for those losses.

About New York City-based Motorcycle Personal Injury Attorneys Glenn & Robin Herman

Our New York City Personal Injury attorneys take the time to learn every aspect of your case during our initial meeting in order to properly evaluate the full extent of the damages you or a loved one have suffered. We have been representing seriously injured New Yorkers for over 25 years. Born, raised, and living in the City, we know that when you have been injured in this town, you need an attorney to protect your rights and explain the law to you in a way you can understand.

For a no-charge consultation today to discuss the details of your injury event: https://hermannyc.com/free-case-consultation/

We represent clients in all five boroughs of New York (NY): Manhattan, Staten Island, Queens, Brooklyn, and the Bronx, along with Suffolk County & Nassau County on Long Island, Westchester County, Rockland County, and throughout the entire state of New York.


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