Many injuries experienced in traffic accidents are common to all types of vehicles – cars, trucks, motorcycles, and bicycle riders. Anyone can suffer a traumatic brain injury, spinal cord damage, broken bones, or other serious injuries if there’s enough force. One injury that is unique to motorcycle and bicycle riders is road rash. This injury occurs when the riders are ejected from their bike and slide along the road surface. The “rash” is from contact by the skin with asphalt, concrete, gravel, or other surfaces, and from any type of allergic reaction.
The road rash from a bike, motorcycle, or pedestrian accident is much more severe than just a skinned knee. Road rash must be treated immediately, normally at a local emergency room. Road rash can lead to infections, nerve damage, muscle damage, shock, scarring, and in the most severe cases, death. Motorcycle riders who travel at much higher speeds than bicycle riders need to dress properly, since there’s always a strong risk of being thrown from their motorcycle.
What is road rash?
According to Very Well Health, road rash is a skin abrasion that involves scraping off some of the skin. The area normally bleeds and looks a little raw. The severity of the injury normally depends on how deep the wound penetrates the skin and whether the wound area becomes infected. Normally, the skin around the center of the abrasion is very painful. Some of the signs of road rash include:
- Swelling and redness
- A warm sensation
- Pus or fluid
- Flu-like symptoms such as chills and fever
In the worst-case scenario, an infection may cause blood poisoning. Victims may suffer septic shock, which can cause “dangerously low blood pressure and organ failure.” Blood poisoning must be treated immediately or a motorcycle accident victim could die.
Motorcycle and bicycle riders need to be especially careful when riding in warm weather. When it’s cold, riders usually wear full-length pants, long-sleeve shirts, and jackets. Some motorcycle riders wear leather, which helps protect the rider. In warm weather, more skin is likely to be exposed because riders wear shorts and short-sleeve shirts, don’t have jackets, and wear clothing with lighter materials.
As a general rule, if you were in a motorcycle or bicycle accident in or near Southeast Washington, you should be examined at an ER center or by your local general physician as quickly as possible. Very Well Health recommends that you seek medical help if:
- The affected area is on your face, feet, hands, or genitals.
- Bone or muscle is visible at the site of the wound.
- There are embedded objects such as glass or gravel in the wound.
- The wound is thrice the size of the palm of your hand.
- The bleeding is excessive.
- There are signs of infection.
How do doctors diagnose and treat road rash injuries or infections?
Generally after a serious accident, police and emergency medical technicians will:
- Keep the accident victim where they are – if it’s safe to do so. If a victim is in the middle of the road, then he/she needs to be moved to a safe spot.
- Life-threatening issues will be treated first. Bright red bleeding and bleeding that spurts need to be treated right away.
- Normally bleeding will be treated with a pressure bandage or a clean cloth.
First-aid steps include rinsing the road rash with soapy water – to help flush out any objects or debris in the wound. Debris should generally be removed by a medical professional. The wound should be dressed with gauze and wrap.
A physician will conduct a physical exam. Depending on the severity of the road rash, the doctor may order an X-ray and other imaging tests to see if there is a bone break or objects in the skin. If a doctor is worried about an infection, he/she may order blood tests and culture tests. The doctor will also check your heart rate, blood pressure, pulse, and oxygen levels.
The doctor will also likely ask if you have had a recent tetanus shot. Tetanus is a severe bacterial infection that affects the nervous system. Tetanus may be life-threatening. The healthcare provider will administer the shot or a booster if necessary. Infections are usually treated with antibiotics.
Severe cases of road rash may require reconstructive surgery. Generally, a surgeon performs a skin graft that uses healthy skin from another less visible part of the body (such as inside of the thigh or the buttocks). The healthy skin is transplanted and secured with stitches, staples, or padded dressing. As the skin heals, new blood vessels grow that help new skin cells form that help the wound heal.
Road rash can leave unsightly scars and “discoloration, known as traumatic tattooing, which results when pigmented debris isn’t washed out of the wound.” Some victims may require plastic surgery. Motorcycle and bicycle accident victims who have road rash may also require psychological help if their scars affect their confidence and self-esteem.
Who is liable for my road rash injury?
Our Kennewick motorcycle accident and bicycle accident lawyers file claims for accident victims who suffer severe cases of road rash – the cases that may result in scarring, disfigurement, loss of function, or death. We file claims against negligent car, truck, and motorcycle drivers. We may also file claims against the makers of any defective vehicle parts, the Washington Department of Transportation, and other responsible parties.
At Telaré Law, we understand how life is much more difficult after an accident. You have numerous questions, a mountain of medical bills, a great amount of physical and emotional pain, and concerns about your future. Our experienced road rash injury lawyers have helped many personal injury victims, including motorcycle and bicycle accident victims, obtain just settlements and verdicts for their economic and personal damages.
We have offices in Kennewick and Richland, and serve the Tri-Cities and all of Southeast Washington.