Nearly 1,500 motorcycle drivers and passengers suffered injuries in crashes on Virginia roads and highways during 2018. Reports collected by the state’s Department of Motor Vehicles classified 629 of those injury cases as serious, and our experience representing motorcyclists in personal injury lawsuits convinces us that most of those serious injury cases involved broken legs, fractured hips or both.
Motorcycle riders’ legs and lower bodies are especially prone to traumatic and disabling injuries because their bikes provide them no physical protection. Jeans and heavy boots may prevent or minimize road rash, but clothing does nothing to blunt the force of a collision with a car or truck, or with the ground itself.
Getting a leg trapped under a falling motorcycle is particularly dangerous. Indeed, leg amputations are not uncommon when a large vehicle crashes into a motorcycle and the rider is sent sliding along the pavement with their leg under their bike.
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Whether a motorcyclist suffers a broken tibia, fibula, patella, femur or pelvis, they can face surgeries, weeks of hospital stays, months of physical therapy and rehab, and pain that never quite goes away. Pins, screws and plates implanted to reknit bones may need to stay in place for years before then having to be replaced during a subsequent surgery. Too often, treatment only restores partial strength and mobility, leaving the injured motorcycle rider with a limp or needing a cane, walker, prosthesis or wheelchair.
And the damage is rarely limited to the bones. Bone fragments tear through muscle tissues, nerve fibers and blood vessels. Joints dislocate, and tendons and ligaments snap or rupture. Cartilage in the knee gets destroyed. Repairing this ancillary damage can necessitate follow-up surgeries years or decades after a crash.
These realities dictate that personal injury insurance settlements or jury awards for injured motorcyclists should include money to cover future medical expenses. No plaintiff’s attorney can guarantee such an outcome, but every effort should be made to secure funds that exceed just the medical bills that have been incurred immediately following a crash with a car or truck.