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Identifying the Symptoms of Motorcycle Road Rash | Nickelsporn & Lundin, P.C.
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Identifying the Severity of Your Road Rash

After a long week of work, the weekend is finally here, and the weather is gorgeous enough for you to take your Harley out for a spin. Since it’s so nice out, a long sleeve shirt would be too hot, and your pads get itchy when they’re on bare skin—so you opt to wear a short sleeved shirt and no pads. You weren’t planning on going that far anyway, just a quick ride up and down Connecticut Ave. After about five minutes you could almost feel your stress and angst fly away as the wind blew across your face.

You were so relaxed, you actually closed your eyes for a split second to just take it all in. Although there was no one in front of you when you closed them, as soon as you opened your eyes, you saw a group of teenagers absentmindedly begin to cross the street. You panicked, clutched your brakes and veered to the opposite lane. Your bike lost balance, skidded underneath you, and dragged you about 15 feet into the intersection.

When you regained your senses, you stood up and tried to assess the damage. You had about a foot long patch of road rash on your back and side and a few abrasions on your arms and hand. Although the rash wasn’t bleeding that badly, it felt like it was on fire. A few other motorists got out of their cars and asked you if you needed an ambulance. 

After taking another look at the damage, you weren’t sure how to reply.

Do you really need medical attention, even though it’s not bleeding that badly?

Minor to Severe: What Road Rash Looks Like

Road rash is an extremely common motorcycle injury that occurs when the rider’s skin is scraped, dragged, or grated across gravel or pavement. Since motorcycle accidents occur when either the motorcycle itself is moving or another vehicle crashes into the biker, the force of the crash tends to knock the biker down to the ground and the residual force causes his body to scrape the ground. The resulting abrasions left on the skin—resembling a skin rash—can vary from minor cuts and scrapes to severe nerve damaging wounds. 

  • Minor – Small scrapes, redness, bruising, slight bleeding, and tenderness. Make sure you clean the area well and if you have any doubts on the severity, seek medical attention.
  • Serious – Bleeding, swelling, radiating heat, painful to the touch, exposed muscle, tendons, and nerves. Keep the wound clean and seek medical attention immediately.
  • Severe – Bleeding, swelling, deep wounds, missing several layers of skin, exposed muscle, tendons or nerves, shiny or milky appearance, extremely painful, or not painful at all—nerve damage. Covering more than 10 percent of your body, you should seek medical attention immediately and try not to touch the abrasions as infection can set in quickly. Scarring and deformity are common.

Although the abrasions may not be deep enough to bleed, or in some cases may not cause pain, you should still seek medical attention for treatment as the lack of pain may be indicative to nerve damage and infection can easily set in even when the abrasions aren’t that deep.

Road rash is only one type of injury that motorcyclists risk on a day to day basis. If you or a loved one has suffered a debilitating or deforming injury as a result of a motorcycle accident, contact us today to see if you’re eligible for injury compensation. The consultation is free, but your peace of mind is worth so much more. Call today to see how we can help.

Make sure the motorcycle enthusiasts in your family are well informed. Share this page with them via email, Facebook, or Twitter. Knowing the facts could save their lives, or prevent a tragic injury—help them get the knowledge they need to stay safe.


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