A sharp rise in motorcycle injuries in Illinois recent years has motorcycle enthusiasts, lawmakers and a Chicago personal injury law firm looking for ways to reduce related injuries and fatalities in the state. According the Illinois Department of Transportation, 3,312 motorcyclists were injured in the state in 2012, an increase of 9.7 percent over the year prior. Furthermore, the number of overall motorcycle crashes in the state soared by an estimated 61 percent between 1997 and 2006, driving home the point that more must be done to minimize crashes and prevent associated injuries.
A study released by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration outlines the most common motorcycle injuries sustained during crashes. The results show that lower-extremity injuries, such as those to the feet or legs, are most common. Upper-extremity injuries and head injuries follow behind. While lower-extremity injuries were shown to be most prevalent, injuries to the head, chest and abdominal areas were generally the most severe. Here’s a closer look at some of the most common motorcycle injuries seen in the U.S.
Generally, lower-extremity injuries are grouped into one of eight injury categories:
While lower-extremity injuries are the most common type of injury sustained during motorcycle crashes, leg injuries are the most common type of lower-extremity injury, accounting for 44 percent of cases. Bone fractures within the leg are especially common, while soft-tissue injuries follow behind. Among motorcycle accident leg injuries, 95 percent resulted in a tibia or fibula fracture. Three percent of all leg injuries were severe enough to warrant partial or complete leg amputations.
While lower-extremity injuries take a physical toll on riders, they also take a financial one. Motorcyclists affected by single lower-extremity injuries were billed an average of $20,745 in medical fees. When patients have more than one lower-extremity injury following an accident, that figure rises to approximately $56,288.
Upper-extremity injuries, or those affecting the shoulders, arms or hands, are the second-most common type of motorcycle injury seen in U.S. level I and level II trauma centers. Forearm fractures are the most common upper-extremity injuries that result from motorcycle crashes. According to a study by the National Center for Biotechnology Information, upper-extremity injuries account for about 35 percent of all motorcycle injuries. Shoulder girdle injuries are most common, while forearm fractures follow behind. Attorneys at a Chicago personal injury law firm know that while upper-extremity injuries don’t always prove fatal, they may result in substantial disabilities that affect the victim’s quality of life for months, years or even permanently. Additionally, while upper-extremity injuries are sometimes less severe than those affecting the head or lower extremities, they are more 1.82 times more apt to require rehabilitation following the initial hospital say.
Head and brain injuries
According to the NHTSA, head and brain injuries are the third most-common type of motorcycle injury seen at level I and level II trauma centers. Head and brain injuries are also generally the most severe type of motorcycle injury, because even when they don’t prove fatal, they can have tremendous physical and financial repercussions for the victim.
Traumatic brain injuries are especially concerning, and in some cases, result in permanent disability and impairment. Motorcycle crash survivors with brain injuries may face cognitive or learning impairment, or may experience nerve damage, concentration issues, emotional changes or any number of other side effects. Side effects experienced vary based on the severity of the TBI. All TBIs are grouped into one of four categories: severe, moderate, minor or potential. A study by NHTSA on motorcycle crash outcomes revealed that 34 percent of all TBIs sustained during motorcycle crashes were considered severe. TBIs were considered moderate in about 43 percent of all cases, mild in only 2.1 percent of cases, and potential in 22 percent of crashes.
The NHTSA study also covered costs associated with head, facial and brain injuries, and found that as the severity of the injuries increase, hospital charges increase 32 fold. The median spent on hospital visits for motorcyclists suffering from head injuries was $2,285. Those with head injuries that ranked 4 or 5 on what’s known as the Abbreviated Injury Scale, a system used to categorize injuries by severity, saw median hospital charges of $73,179. A similar spike was seen in hospital charges assessed to those suffering from TBIs. Hospitalized motorcyclists without TBIs spent an average of $2,461 on their hospital stays, while those facing severe TBIs were assessed an average of $31,979.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cite wearing a helmet as the single most effective motorcycle injury prevention method. Not only do helmets reduce the chances of death in a motorcycle accident by 37 percent, but they also reduce the risk of head injury by 69 percent.
Furthermore, as report released by NHTSA detailing the costs of injuries associated with different types of motorcycle crashes found that non-helmeted motorcycle riders accrued substantially higher hospital bills than helmet wearers. While there was some variation as to the extent of the difference, the organization ultimately concluded that hospital fees for non-helmet wearers were about 30 percent higher than for those wearing helmets. Attorneys at a Chicago personal injury law firm know that abiding by posted speed limits and avoiding aggressive driving behaviors also improve one’s chances of avoiding motorcycle crash injuries.
Motorcycle crashes are increasingly common in Illinois and across the U.S., and many victims of crash-related injuries find themselves facing significant physical and financial hardship. Those seeking additional information about motorcycle crash-related injuries should contact an attorney.