Do You Need Medical Treatment After a Motorcycle Accident?
What happens if you are injured in a motorcycle accident and you are not sure that your injuries are severe enough to warrant medical treatment? Should you go the emergency room, see an urgent care physician, or just try to take care of it yourself at home? The answers to these questions depend on how severe your injuries are and whether you are contemplating bringing a personal injury claim based on the events of the accident.
Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Death: The most severe form of motorcycle accident injury is death. In 2015, 4,976 people died in motorcycle accidents in the United States, which was up 8.3 percent from 2014, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). In 2014, motorcyclists were 27 times more likely than occupants of passenger cars to die in a crash per vehicle mile traveled. Of all motorcyclists who were killed in accidents in 2015, 40 percent were not wearing a helmet, and it was also found that 33 percent were speeding at the time of the accident. Alcohol usage accounted for 27 percent of fatal crashes among motorcyclists, compared to about 21 percent of passenger vehicle drivers. http://www.iii.org/issue-update/motorcycle-crashes
Broken bones and fractures: Bone injuries are the most common type of motorcycle accident injury. Because motorcycles cannot stand upright on their own, most motorcycles fall over in crashes. This can often cause one of the rider’s legs to remain underneath the motorcycle, resulting in broken or fractured bones. Motorcycle accidents can also cause broken or fractured wrists and arms since many riders’ natural reaction to falling over is to stretch their arm out to try and stop the fall. Other common bone injuries include fractures of the shoulder and pelvis.
Road rash: Motorcyclists are completely exposed to their environment when they are riding since a motorcycle offers no safety encasement. Thus, wearing adequate protective clothing is essential to preventing skin injuries. When riders are wearing inappropriate clothing, their skin can make contact with the pavement during a crash, which can cause road rash, an abrasion of the skin that can range from mild to severe. First–degree road rash results in skin that is merely red and inflamed, while second–degree road rash can actually break the surface of the skin. Third–degree road rash occurs when the road completely removes the skin, leaving the underlying layers of fat and tissue exposed.
Head injuries: Traumatic brain injuries are the leading cause of death and disability in motorcycle accidents. A traumatic brain injury is caused by a sudden bump or blow to the head which causes the brain to bounce back and forth in the skull. The effects of a traumatic brain injury can be as mild as dizziness and seeing stars or as serious as death. Thus, wearing a helmet is absolutely essential to preventing head injuries.
Should You See a Doctor?
Whether you should see a doctor depends on how severe your injury is. It is often difficult to know whether you should see a doctor after suffering an injury, since many symptoms are not always immediately obvious, and most minor injuries are more convenient to treat at home than having to go to the doctor’s office. Even when you know you should see a doctor, there’s also the question of severity–could your injury be taken care of at an urgent care facility or should you go to the emergency room? While there are no hard and fast rules for which facility you should go to or whether you should see a doctor at all, there are several clues to point you in the right direction.
Urgent care centers are same-day clinics that can handle a variety of medical problems that need to be treated right away but are not severe enough to be considered true emergencies.
As such, they occupy a middle ground between your primary care physician’s office and an emergency room. Urgent care facilities are able to handle several motorcycle-related injuries, such as:
- Sprains and strains
- Bleeding and cuts (if the bleeding is minimal but still requires stitches)
- Minor broken bones and fractures (like fingers and toes)
- Skin rashes and infections (such as first and second–degree road rash)
The unifying theme among all of these types of injuries is that they are mild. If you are involved in a relatively minor motorcycle accident and have suffered only minor or surface-level injuries, treatment at an urgent care facility is probably sufficient. If you arrive at the urgent care facility and your injuries are more severe than the doctors are capable of treating, there is always the option to be transported to an emergency room.
Emergency rooms treat conditions that can permanently impair or endanger the life of an individual. As such, treatment at emergency rooms is reserved for motorcycle injuries that are more severe than simple cuts, scrapes, and digital fractures. Motorcycle accident-related injuries that might require emergency medical care include:
- Serious head, neck, or back injuries
- Compound fractures (bone protruding through skin)
- Moderate to severe burns (including more severe forms of road rash)
- Convulsions, seizures, and loss of consciousness
- Deep wounds
- Heavy, uncontrollable bleeding
How Long Should You Wait?
Ideally, you should see a doctor right away, especially if you have suffered a severe injury that requires emergency medical care. Timing is especially of the essence if you are considering filing a lawsuit over the events that led to your motorcycle accident or making a claim against your insurance company. Many insurance companies view delayed medical treatment as evidence that your injuries are not severe enough to warrant compensation and will deny your claim. There are also statutes of limitations to consider. In Florida, the statute of limitations for most types of personal injury cases is four years, meaning that you have four years from the date of your accident to get the proper medical care you need and to file your claim. In these situations, it’s best not to wait.
Contact a Florida Motorcycle Accident Attorney
If you have been injured in a motorcycle accident and are considering a personal injury claim, please contact the attorneys at the Dolman Law Group for a free consultation by calling 727-451-6900.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765