- Injuries to the lower extremities are common in motorcycle accidents.
- Lower extremity injuries may make it difficult for victims to complete everyday tasks, like walking, biking, or even working.
- Medical care and ongoing treatment can be financially devastating for accident victims, especially when they are unable to work due to their injuries.
- A motorcycle and car accident attorney can help ensure you are fully compensated for any injuries that occurred due to someone else’s negligence.
According to a National Highway Traffic Safety Administration publication, the most common area of the body injured in motorcycle crashes are the lower extremities. These injuries may include the bones or connective tissues of the feet, ankles, and knees, as well as the muscles or soft tissues of the upper and lower portions of the leg.
Unfortunately, injuries to these areas happen in about 11% of motorcycle accidents.
Motorcyclists rely on their legs as their first defense system to protect them when falling off of a bike.
Lower Extremity Injuries Common in Motorcycle Accidents
About 10% of lower extremity injuries caused by motorcycle accidents involve injuries to the feet. Ankles and feet are complex structures with each foot containing 26 bones and many joints that make movement possible. Injuries to any of these connections can be painful and debilitating.
Foot Injuries – 84% of the most commonly injured structures of the foot include the prominent, bony connective structures of the metatarsal or tarsal, the talus, and the calcaneus—the lower bone of the ankle and the heel bone respectively.
Ankle Injuries – Tibia and fibula malleolar fractures relate to breaks to the bony projections located on either side of the ankle. Together, these injuries account for an estimated 90% of all ankle injuries.
Dislocations of the ankle and its adjacent cartilage account for an estimated 9% of all ankle injuries.
Types of Leg Injuries Common in Motorcycle Accidents
Lower Leg Injuries
In motorcycle accidents, about 27% of lower extremity injuries impact the lower sections of the leg. Unfortunately, these injuries can include partial or complete traumatic leg amputations. Massive crushing to the leg accounted for an estimated 3% of all leg injuries in motorcycle accidents.
Approximately 16% of lower extremity injuries caused by motorcycle accidents involve the knees. This includes fractures to the tibial plateau and intercondylar spine. (The tibial spine is a specialized ridge of bone in the tibia where the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) attaches. The ACL behaves like a large, tough, rubber band that holds the bones of the knee together. This strong connection between the bones of the leg is integral to maintaining flexibility and stability in the knee.
The kneecap, called the patella, is involved in an estimated 18% of knee injuries.
Tears to the ligaments and the meniscus of the knee happen in about 18% of knee-injury motorcycle accidents. (The meniscus is the tough cartilage that acts as a shock absorber between the bones of your thigh and your shin.)
Upper Leg and Thigh Injuries
Injuries to the lower extremities happen in about 11% of motorcycle accidents. This includes factures of the femur (thigh bone), which are the most common thigh injuries, amounting to 94% of all thigh injuries.
Fractures to the shaft of the femur account for approximately 53% of thigh injuries.
Soft-tissue injuries including damage to thigh arteries, veins, and nerves, and account for approximately 4% of motorcycle accident injuries.
Short-Term Effects of Foot and Leg Injuries
After a motorcycle accident, healing from leg and foot injuries can be very difficult. Even in the short-term, lacerations that require stitches, fractures, and sprains can all be extremely painful as they heal. And if an injury becomes infected, the medical attention required becomes more intensive.
Even superficial injuries, like road rash are not only painful, but they also have a good chance of becoming infected. Debris embedded in the wound, if not carefully removed, can lead to complications to healing. Depending on the extent of the injury and the depth of the abrasion, the possibility of permanent scarring is very real.
In severe cases, flesh that is torn or abraded in a motorcycle accident can require skin-graft surgery. This surgical remedy is expensive and doubly painful as it requires harvesting skin from elsewhere on the body.
Long-term Effects of Foot and Leg Injuries
In severe accidents, the effects of foot and leg injuries can disrupt a victim’s life, long into the future. Blood flow issues can lead to amputation, deep lacerations can cause permanent scars, and trauma can result in a permanent limp.
The long-term injuries or complications can interfere with a victim’s quality of life and their ability to enjoy sports, dancing, walking, and running for health and hobby reasons.
The ongoing complications can also impact a victim’s finances, especially if ongoing care, medication, prosthetics, or special equipment are required.
Treatment and Therapy Commonly Used for Foot and Leg Motorcycle Injuries
Depending on the type of injury and the severity of the damage to the body, treatment for motorcycle accident injuries may go on for weeks or months. While many superficial injuries can be treated at home, hospitalization may be necessary if infection is likely or surgery is required.
Casts or temporary braces may be needed in fractures, sprains, and strains to stabilize broken bones or hold torn or hyper-extended ligaments in place while they heal.
Physical therapy is often required to re-strengthen muscles and overcome restrictions to mobility, which can lead to more permanent limitations associated with improper healing.
In catastrophic accidents that result in amputation of the limb(s), dependency upon prosthetic devices can last for the remainder of the victim’s life. This is a costly, on-going expense that should be considered in any settlement the victim may seek.
The Estimated Costs of Foot and Ankle Motorcycle Injuries
Medical costs depend on the extent of the injuries and the procedures required to restore the affected area(s) to normal function. If hospitalization, surgery, or rehabilitation are required, the bills can quickly mushroom to tens of thousands of dollars.
But the costs of foot and ankle injuries go beyond medical bills. Missed time from work and other costs associated with paying for everyday duties you now need help with, such as child care or lawn services add up quickly.
These costs should always be considered as part of your compensation package.
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Proving Fault in a Lower Extremity Motorcycle Accident
If you were injured in a motorcycle accident, you will need to prove that the accident was a result of someone else’s negligence and that your injuries are a direct result of the crash.
This will mean gathering and submitting evidence that proves how and why the accident happened. You will also need to prove that you were well and uninjured beforehand.
The following information will help to do this:
- Medical records: It is important that you not only supply evidence of your injuries, but also medical reports from before your accident. These records can help demonstrate that you were whole and uninjured before the accident. This is particularly important if you normally participate(d) in sports, served in the military, or have had previous accidents in which you were injured.
- Police reports: Official reports from the officers who investigated your accident will be essential in proving that you were the victim of someone else’s negligence or recklessness.
- Photographs and video: Photographic evidence—in both still and video form—are extremely useful in helping the jury understand the accident and its resulting injuries. Cell phone footage as well as video from intersection cameras, security cams, and any images captured by witnesses can provide graphic testimony of how the accident happened and document the severity your injuries.
- Witness statements: Police reports often include witness statements that help to clarify what led to the accident. If you are able to do so, it’s helpful to get names and contact information from anyone who might have saw the accident take place.