Any injuries can have substantial long-term consequences, but catastrophic injuries in particular are those that leave victims dealing with severe and debilitating conditions for the rest of their lives. These types of injuries are particularly prevalent in motorcycle wrecks given the lack of protections motorbikes afford their riders, so knowing what to expect in this regard may be key to effectively pursuing compensation in an ensuing civil suit. Here are some common catastrophic injuries in Charleston motorcycle accidents that could play a role in your case.
Joint and Nerve Damage
The most serious injuries associated with motorcycle crashes are usually back injuries, fractured and/or compressed vertebra, problems with the facet joints, herniated discs, nerve root impingement, and spinal cord injury. A person can also suffer knee injuries, knee-to-toe construction, bilateral knee, partial knee, and total knee construction. A body part can be crushed, damaged, or injured severely to the point where there are chronic pain issues that keep the person from being able to think clearly or put the person on significant medications that may affect their ability to sleep or concentrate.
These injuries often require multiple surgeries, and while the surgery may help stabilize the structural foundation of the injured area and mitigate the pain to some extent, it usually does not resolve the issues completely. Ultimately, these injuries often result in chronic and miserable pain for the rest of the motorcyclist’s life, and many motorcyclists are not able to return to work.
Traumatic Brain Damage
A traumatic brain injury (TBI) can occur in several ways, but one of the most common ways associated with motorcycle accidents is blunt force trauma to the head. In this sort of scenario, there may be a crack or fracture of the skull, and diagnostic imaging may show some type of blood clot, hematoma, and other damage from direct trauma.
There are also anoxic brain injuries, which occur where there is loss of oxygen to the brain. Sometimes this kind of injury may occur in motorcycle accidents because of loss of oxygen to the lungs—for example, someone’s airway to the trachea may be obstructed, their face may be smashed, or their nasal cavities may be impacted.
In any event, whether it comes from blunt trauma or anoxia, TBI often leads to death because of the swelling and the bleeding in the brain. If the outcome is not fatal, swelling or bleeding may still occur because the brain begins to shrink, decay, and erode.
Most traumatic brain injury cases will not show up on traditional imaging tests, like CT scans and MRI scans. The victim will have to get neuropsychological testing to establish the baseline state of where they were before the accident, and then what level they are operating at after the accident. From this, a lawyer can determine what deficits, if any, the motorcyclist has.
Those deficits can vary, depending on the location of the trauma, but they can affect short-term memory, long-term memory, concentration, ability to maintain one’s composure, and even a victim’s personality. Whatever the effects of a traumatic brain injury are, they are always significant, severe, and life-changing to the motorcyclist.
Broken bones are common in motorcycle accidents because there is no physical barrier—no seatbelts, no airbags, and no car frame—protecting the driver when they are hit or thrown from their vehicle. A lot of times, the body is thrown in such great force that when it hits the ground or another object, bones just snap. Particularly severe impacts can create fractures in multiple parts of the body, such as the pelvis, hips, knees, ankles, wrists, and arms.
In many cases, these fractures are very serious, not just hairline cracks. Many times, they are comminuted, which means the affected bone is broken into pieces, and surgery—or multiple surgeries—may be required to insert screws and rods to reconstruct the area where the fractures occurred.
Accordingly, the fractures that occur in motorcycle accidents can be quite brutal, painful, and life-changing. They can keep someone out of the workforce for a significant period of time, and even for the rest of their lives.