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Understanding Lower-Extremity Injuries in Motorcycle Accidents

By Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. on November 8, 2020

Motorcyclists are the most exposed drivers on Seattle roads. With our streets and highways packed with much heavier passenger vehicles and trucks, it is no wonder that motorcyclists often suffer traumatic injuries in a collision. While new technology for motorcycle gear provides protection for their heads and shoulders through strong helmets and padded jackets, injuries to the lower half of the body are still extensive and can follow an accident victim for the rest of their life.

Common Leg and Pelvic Injuries

When someone imagines a motorcycle accident, they often think of head trauma, dislocated shoulders, and road rash. However, injuries to the lower extremities are the most common among motorcyclists, according to a report by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). This is because riders often suffer “in-between” injuries, which means they were pinned between two heavy objects.

Whether a motorcyclist is sideswiped by a semi-truck or T-boned by a drunk driver, they will likely be pinned between their bike and the pavement. In addition to the initial trauma of the collision, they can also suffer further damage as their bodies collide with the ground. Both points of impact can severely injure a rider, but the second one is uniquely focused on their lower extremities.

While the weight of a bike can vary depending on the brand, the average weight is roughly 700 lbs. At high speeds, these collisions can cause severe crush injuries as the full force of the collision bears down on a motorcyclist’s hips and legs. Not only can this cause severe fractures, ranging from broken ankles to dislocated hips, but it can also impact the internal organs.

Areas of the lower body that can be severely damaged in a motorcycle collision include:

It is also possible for a motorcyclist to suffer a spinal cord injury to the lowest point of the spine: the sacral. The sacral is composed of five bones and five unique nerves, including the S1 to the S5 nerves. If these nerves are damaged, it can impact an accident victim’s ability to control and feel in their hips and legs:

  • S1: Hips and groin.
  • S2: Back of the thighs.
  • S3: Muscles at the center of the buttocks.
  • S4-5: The bases of the pelvis between the anus and genitals.

While an accident may still be able to walk and move if their sacral is damaged, there will be limitations. A complete fracture could mean a total loss of function in the nerves of the sacral, while incomplete damage could still result in limited mobility and chronic pain. However, if the damage is higher up, such in the lumbar spine, then it is possible to suffer full paralysis in the hips and legs.

Costs of Lower Extremity Injuries

Each accident is different, and the overall medical costs of your injuries will vary depending on the nature of the collision and the trauma you suffered. But make no mistake: lower extremity injuries are expensive. Surgeons may have to install plates and pins in your hips and thighs in order to repair the damage of a fracture or perform emergency surgery if you are suffering from internal bleeding in one of your organs. In some cases, they may only be able to minimize the damage to this region of the body, leaving you with long-term medical conditions. It is not uncommon for injured motorcyclists to become infertile as a result of an accident.

Spinal cord injuries can be the most expensive in the long run, as they can come with chronic pain, paralysis, and limited mobility or control over the hips and legs. You may need equipment to move around in your day-to-day life, have to take medication to deal with the pain, and require physical therapy if there is the possibility that you can fully walk again. All of these costs can add up rapidly on top of any emergency treatment you receive. At the end of the day, a motorcycle accident can leave you drowning in debt.

Recovering After a Motorcycle Accident

However, if your injuries were caused by a negligent driver, you may be able to recover compensation from their insurance provider. This can include everything from a visit to the emergency room to physical therapy to assisted living equipment such as wheelchairs, walkers, and canes. In addition, you can also pursue compensation for lost wages if your career was affected by the accident, as well as any pain and suffering you went through.

While the insurance company for the at-fault driver should provide this compensation in full for your trauma, they often do not unless you have a strong case and legal representation. Insurance companies are for-profit businesses and will do anything possible to minimize the amount of money they pay out in a claim. If you enter into negotiations without an attorney at your side, they may offer you an insultingly low settlement.

Instead of taking on your case alone, reach out to the experienced and skilled Seattle motorcycle accident attorneys at Hardwick & Pendergast, P.S. Our legal team has more than 40 years of experience getting injured motorcyclists the compensation they need to recover. We can walk you through the claims process in a free consultation and outline our strategy to get you proper compensation for your injuries. We know money is tight for you, which is why we do not accept a dime of your money unless we win your case. There is no cost to reaching out to us and schedule an appointment by calling our office at (425) 228-3860 or toll-free at (888) 228-3860.

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