Thanks to the constant sunshine and wide open roads, motorcycling is a popular activity in Florida. Likewise, road rash injuries are extremely common. These skin abrasions can be very painful and require immediate medical attention to prevent infection. Still, some go on to develop permanent scarring and long-term complications from these wounds.
If you’ve sustained injuries in an accident, an experienced motorcycle accident attorney can help you determine whether you could benefit from filing a personal injury claim.
Road Rash Injuries Are Commonplace in Florida
According to the Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles department, there were 9,707 motorcycle crashes in a recent year. Of these, nearly 80 percent of the crashes involved injuries.
Motorcycle accidents are not the only way to get road rash. Bicycle accidents, skateboarders, and even motor vehicle passengers can suffer from road rash. In 2017, there were 9,420 pedestrian accidents and 6,675 bicycle accidents. 86 percent of all pedestrian crashes involved injuries, and 82 percent of bicycle crashes involved injuries. Motorcyclists and pedestrians are some of the most vulnerable people on the road.
What Is Road Rash?
A road rash wound is a skin irritation that is caused by contact with a rough surface, such as pavement or concrete. Medically speaking, a road rash occurs when traumatic friction with the road’s surface grinds one or more layers of skin away.
These injuries are more common during the summer and spring, when people tend to wear less protective clothing; a thin layer of fabric can easily be torn apart, leaving the skin underneath vulnerable. While the sun and warm weather in Florida mean it’s always beach weather, it also means that a high risk of these traumatic injuries is present year-round.
How to Treat Road Rash
Depending on the severity of your injuries, they may require only cleansing with antibacterial soap and monitoring as the wound heals. If the abrasions show signs of infection, excessive bleeding, or are severe in nature, you may require more extensive road rash treatment. In any case, ensure that you seek medical care and follow your healthcare provider’s advice.
Road rash can be extremely painful and require extensive treatment and recovery. When treating skin abrasions, like road rash and burns, medical professionals will first classify the level of severity.
- First-degree abrasions are the least severe type of road rash and only involve the epidermis (the uppermost layer of skin). They usually present with redness and tenderness, without bleeding. You can often treat these injuries at home without medical intervention. Generally, mild road rash heals over the course of a few weeks. Over-the-counter pain medication may help relieve discomfort associated with road rash. However, you should never put antibiotic ointment on a road rash.
- Second-degree abrasions involve the epidermis and dermis. Foreign objects, such as dirt and glass, often become lodged within the skin. It’s important to seek treatment, including traumatic tattoo prevention, which reduces the risk for long-term scarring and bacterial infection.
- Third-degree abrasions are the most severe type of road rash and may include nerve or muscle damage. Victims often require skin grafts, where skin is taken from another part of the body to help heal the wound. Treating road rash that’s severe can take time and be extremely painful.
Common Accidents That Cause Road Rash
Motorcyclists are most commonly affected by road rash. In hot climates, many opt not to wear protective clothing, increasing the odds that exposed skin will come into contact with the road. The lack of protection provided by a motorcycle makes any collision exponentially more dangerous than one where you are in a car.
Still, even drivers of cars and trucks can get road rash. Here are a few of the most common types of accidents that lead to road rash:
- Taking a curve too fast: The average motorcycle can exceed 100 miles per hour in seconds. Never try to get away with such high speeds on a straightaway drive, let alone taking curves at high speeds. These accidents often happen when the motorcyclist is unfamiliar with the area or misjudges how long it will take to slow down. Taking a curve too fast can cause the bike to fly out from underneath you.
- Rear-end accidents: Even low-speed, rear-end accidents can lead to significant damage. Vehicle drivers often overestimate the amount of room they have between themselves and a motorcyclist. A minor tap from behind can throw a rider off the bike and cause them to skid across the road.
- Driver not wearing a seatbelt: Road rash affects car and truck drivers as well. When a driver does not wear their seat belt, a high-impact crash can eject a passenger from a vehicle.
Pedestrians Can Also Suffer Road Rash Injuries
As a pedestrian, you expect a certain level of safety when you hit the road. Bike lanes, sidewalks, and pedestrian laws are designed to ensure that pedestrians and vehicles can safely share the road. Unfortunately, not all drivers are as cautious as they should be. Common accidents involving pedestrians include:
- Cars driving in bike lanes: Far too many drivers view the bike lane as additional driving space. Some may float into the lane or use it as a turn lane in congested traffic. If this happens while you are on a bike, it could cause you to have to swerve to avoid the vehicle, throwing you to the ground.
- Turns through crosswalks: Crossing signals help people crossing an intersection know when it is safe to cross the road. But a pedestrian walk signal often coincides with a motorist’s green light. Many drivers take a right turn without checking to see if the crosswalk is clear. If you are on a bike, skateboard, or just walking, the impact can cause you to scrape across the asphalt.
- Drivers running red lights or stop signs: As a pedestrian, you expect drivers to obey traffic laws. Unfortunately, some drivers run red lights or try to push through a yellow signal. This can cause you to have to react quickly, increasing your risk of injury.
The good news is that in Florida, motor vehicle insurance extends to pedestrians as well. If you are injured by another motorist while you are walking, riding a bike, or skateboarding, you may benefit from a personal injury claim.
Often, road rash is not the only injury a victim sustains in an accident. Road rash can lead to more severe injuries, or it may happen at the same time as other injuries. Common concurrent injuries include:
- Broken bones: An accident severe enough to cause road rash often occurs when someone is thrown across the road. This can often lead to broken bones. Common fractures include arms, legs, ribs, and wrists.
- Infection: In addition to severe pain, bleeding and open wounds carry a risk of infection. It’s important to treat road rash of any degree after an accident to avoid secondary infections.
- Depression: It is not uncommon to become depressed after an accident, especially in cases where the injury leaves permanent scars or causes long-term pain.
- Anxiety: The act of being thrown from a vehicle or motorcycle can be traumatizing. Many people experience fear about returning to a situation that can put them at risk again.
Compensation for Road Rash Injuries
It’s never easy to deal with the pain of an injury after an accident. The last thing you want to do is have to worry about how you are going to pay for your treatment when you just want to focus on getting through the pain and getting back to your normal day-to-day life.
A personal injury claim can help you cover costs associated with an accident and get you back on your feet quicker. Some costs you may be able to recover in an accident include:
- Medical: Medical bills can add up quickly. Though your PIP insurance can help you cover these costs, this amount is rarely enough. Medical costs included in a personal injury claim usually include doctor visits, surgeries, medication, physical therapy, and any other rehab.
- Lost wages: Unfortunately, serious injuries can lead to extended time off from work. If you don’t have vacation time available, this lost time can quickly affect your finances. Lost wages include time missed due to the accident, doctor visits, or recovery time.
- Pain and suffering: Injuries from accidents can result in long-term pain and emotional distress. Compensation for pain and suffering exists to pay you for this. Factors included often include physical pain, emotional stress, loss of enjoyment, and loss of consortium.
How Long Do I Have to File a Claim?
Road rash injuries can be serious. However, it may not be immediately apparent how significant your injury is. The Florida statute of limitations regarding auto accidents requires all residents to file a personal injury claim within two years of the date of the accident.
While you have two years to file a personal injury claim, the laws regarding your PIP insurance are different. To be eligible to have your medical costs covered by PIP, you must go to the doctor within 14 days of the accident. If you have questions regarding your eligibility for filing a claim, contact an insurance claim dispute attorney.
An Experienced Personal Injury Attorney May Help
Insurance companies have no problem offering substantially lower settlements to parties that don’t have an attorney. These companies count on you wanting to move on from the accident and not wanting to deal with the back-and-forth process of negotiations. After an accident, you deserve full and fair compensation for your injuries.
The costs and effects of an accident can often extend far beyond the date of your initial injury. Many times, it’s hard to anticipate just how much an accident will affect you. An experienced attorney can help you figure out the true costs of your accident and help you make the best decision for your recovery moving forward. If you were in a Florida accident, don’t hesitate to get the help you deserve. Contact an experienced personal injury lawyer for more information about your rights.