Unless you are under the age of 17, South Dakota law does not require you to wear a helmet when you ride or operate a motorcycle. Nevertheless, there are many who realize they already have very little protection in the event of an accident, so not only do they wear a helmet, but they may also add protective eye gear, gloves and protective clothing. Even with these precautions, however, the chances of being seriously injured in a collision with another vehicle are high.
Reports from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that about 80 percent of all motorcycle accidents result in serious or fatal injuries. If you are on your bike when you encounter a larger vehicle, the odds are not in your favor. You may find yourself struggling to recover from some of the most common motorcycle accident injuries.
Skin and bones
Without protective clothing, your skin is vulnerable to damage in an accident. You will likely suffer abrasions if you skid across the roadway, and these abrasions are known as road rash. As comical as the name may sound, the injury is anything but funny. It can be as minor as the scraping of the top layer of your skin, or it can be deep enough to remove several layers of skin down to the tissue and fat. The latter injury requires immediate and extensive medical care, perhaps involving skin grafts.
There is often little you can do to protect yourself from broken bones in a motorcycle accident. Unlike a car, your bike's natural tendency is to tip over. You may suffer fractures from falling off your motorcycle, from contact with other objects as you fall or from the weight of the bike falling onto you. Some common bone fractures in motorcycle accidents include these:
- Hands, wrists and arms as you instinctively try to stop yourself from falling
- Legs if the bike lands on top of you
- Shoulder or pelvis, depending on how you fall
Perhaps the most devastating injuries you may suffer are head injuries. In fact, the leading cause of permanent disability and death in motorcycle accidents is traumatic brain injury. Helmets go a long way toward preventing head trauma and fatal injuries. Some studies show that wearing a helmet can increase your chances of surviving a motorcycle accident by as much as 35 percent.
While you may be able to increase your odds through wearing protective gear and your own caution while operating your motorcycle, one factor you can't control is the other driver. If you suffer injuries or lose a loved one in a motorcycle accident caused by another driver's carelessness, you have the right to seek legal advice about your options.