Thanks to the constant sunshine and wide open roads, road rash injuries are extremely common 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.
But road rash doesn’t just affect motorcyclists. Bicyclists, 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.
Road rash injuries can be very painful and often lead to long term complications. That’s why it’s always recommended that you consult with an experienced personal injury attorney if you have been involved in a car or motorcycle accident in Florida. An experienced motorcycle injury attorney can help you determine whether your injuries merit a personal injury claim.
What Is Road Rash?
In the simplest of terms, road rash is exactly what it sounds like—a rash or skin irritation that is caused by the road. Medically speaking, a road rash occurs when traumatic friction with the road’s surface grinds one or more layers of skin away. According to Very Well Health, these injuries are more common during the summer and spring when people tend to wear less protective clothing. While the sun and warm weather in Florida means it’s always beach weather, it also means that the chances of road burn exist year-round.
Like burns, road rash abrasions are classified in three different degrees. These degrees help medical professionals 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 but do not bleed. You can usually treat these injuries at home without medical intervention. Symptoms will usually resolve within a few weeks. Over the counter pain killers may help relieve pain associated with road rash. According to Very Well health, you should never put antibiotic ointment on a road rash.
- Second-degree abrasions involve the epidermis and dermis. These injuries may bleed. You should always get checked out by a doctor if you have second-degree abrasions as the risk for infection is higher.
- Third-degree abrasions are the most severe type of road rash and may include nerve or muscle damage. Victims often require skin grafts, a process where skin is taken from another part of the body to help heal the wound. Recovery can take several months and be very painful.
Common Accidents That Cause Road Rash
Motorcyclists are most commonly affected by road rash. The lack of protection provided by a motorcycle makes any collision exponentially more dangerous than one where you are in a car. But even drivers of cars and trucks can get road rash. The road can be unforgiving and lead to serious and painful injuries. 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, leaving you with road rash or worse.
- 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 Have Rights Too
When most people think of car insurance, they assume that they actually have to be in their car to use that insurance. Many people don’t realize that this simply isn’t the case. In Florida, motor vehicle insurance extends to pedestrians as well. This means that if you are injured by another motorist while you are walking, riding a bike, or skateboarding, you may benefit from a personal injury claim.
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 their own turn lane in congested traffic. If this happens while you are on the road, it could cause you to have to swerve to avoid the vehicle. This can throw you off the bike, causing road rash.
- 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 the 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.
In many cases, 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: Severe road rash is like any other open wound. If it is not treated properly, it can easily become infected. Untreated infections can be fatal. Appropriate wound care is always important after an accident.
- 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. Anxiety may go away after time or may require further treatment.
Limiting Injuries Related to Road Rash
Road rash can be extremely painful and require extensive treatment and recovery. Thankfully, there are a few things that you can do to reduce the chance of developing road rash.
- Watch your speed: Speed is a common problem on the road. With motorcycles, it is easy to take for granted just how fast you are going. But speed can increase your risk of losing control of the bike and sliding onto the roadway. Always obey the posted speed limit and reduce your speed at curves.
- Wear protective clothing: It may not seem ideal to wear long pants and a jacket on Florida’s hottest day’s, but wearing protective clothing can limit the effect of road rash. Motorcycle jackets and pants can help reduce the chances of abrasions and lacerations should you be in an accident. Your safety is the top priority.
- Expect other drivers to be negligent: As a pedestrian or a motorcyclist, it is always best to be extra cautious. Look both ways before entering a crosswalk and look out for drivers who may move into your lane. While on a motorcycle be aware of a car’s blind spots. Avoid making surprise moves on other vehicles and watch for drivers who are not paying attention.
- Buckle up: Road rash can happen to vehicle drivers as well. This most typically happens when a passenger is not wearing a seat belt. A seat belt helps prevent you from flying out of the car during a serious accident.
Potential Financial Help For Your 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 some of the costs associated with an accident and get you back on your feet quicker. Some of the costs you may be able to recover in an accident include:
- Medical:Medical bills can add up quick. 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, doctors 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 usually 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. But sometimes, it may not be immediately apparent how significant your injury is. If you have postponed filing a personal injury claim, it is important to understand the Florida statute of limitations regarding auto accidents. Florida law requires all residents to file a personal injury claim within two years of the date of the accident. That means, if you initially hesitated to file a claim, you may still have time.
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 a personal injury lawyer right away.
An Experienced Personal Injury Attorney May Help
You may wonder: “Why should I hire a personal injury lawyer when I can handle it myself?” While it’s true, you can file a claim, get treatment, and negotiate a settlement with the insurance company on your own, in most cases, this is not the best option. 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.