A person’s life can be completely altered in the aftermath of an accident that causes road rash injuries, depending on their severity. While familiar as a common risk to those who ride motorcycles and bicycles, road rash can affect anyone involved in an accident on the road. In this blog, we’ll talk about the types of road rash, its severity classification, and the legal implications related to such injuries. We will also discuss the circumstances under which you might be eligible to seek compensation for sustaining road rash injuries. But first, let’s start off by explaining the basics.
What Is Road Rash?
Road rash refers to injuries that result from abrasions a person incurs when their body comes into contact with a rough road surface. Motorcyclists and bicyclists are at the greatest risk of suffering road rash injuries in an accident, especially if they are thrown from their bikes. Additionally, anyone who is ejected from a motor vehicle in an accident or pedestrians who are struck by a motor vehicle could also suffer road rash injuries.
Road rash can also result from falls while biking, skateboarding, or running outside. Serious road rash injuries that scrape away the top layers of skin and expose muscle and bones may even require skin grafting or other complicated surgical procedures to repair the damage a victim incurs. Even though minor road rash usually heals within a few weeks with proper care and treatment, these types of injuries may cause a victim to experience lasting physical pain. Severe cases of road rash may even trigger mental and emotional trauma, requiring years of professional help and treatment.
Kinds of Road Rash
In general, there are two types of road rash injuries that accident victims may incur: avulsion injuries and compression injuries.
- Avulsion injury. Avulsion injuries are the most common type of road rash. They occur when layers of skin peel away from the body when it slides across a road’s rough surface. This type of road rash could result in exposed fat or muscle. In the most severe cases, an avulsion injury can expose the victim’s bone. Surface abrasions — often called strawberries and raspberries — usually heal on their own within a few weeks after the initial injury. However, the most severe avulsion injuries usually require a victim to undergo one or more corrective surgeries — including skin grafts — to cover the exposed fat, muscle, or bone.
- Compression injury. Compression injuries result when the victim’s torso, arms, or legs become crushed or “compressed” in between two things, such as between the road and a motor vehicle. These types of road rash injuries most often occur in the case of motorcycle accidents. In a motorcycle accident, the most common scenario is a compression injury resulting when the motorcyclist or a motorcycle passenger becomes crushed between the road and the bike, causing muscle damage, bruising, or serious fractures. These types of injuries often require immediate medical attention and extensive long-term rehabilitation.
Degrees of Road Rash
Medical professionals generally classify road rash injury into three different degrees. Let’s talk about them:
- First-Degree Road Rash. First-degree road rash causes the least extensive road rash injuries, wherein only the top layer of the skin is scraped. The resulting injury is similar to a child’s skinned knee after they take a tumble. Because these injuries are entirely superficial, they usually heal completely on their own within a few days and without lasting repercussions. However, it is always advisable to seek a thorough examination from a medical professional after sustaining any road rash.
- Second-Degree Road Rash. An injury is categorized as a second-degree road rash injury if it breaches the skin’s epidermal layer. In most cases, like first-degree road rash, second-degree road rash often heals on its own without leaving permanent scars. However, these wounds pose an infection risk if they are not cleaned properly and the pieces of dirt and sand from the road’s surface remain in the wound as it heals. Improperly cleaned second-degree road rash may result in a serious infection if left untreated. Especially in the case of second-degree road rash, medical attention is advisable. It is important to properly clean and dress these injuries to improve the chances that it will heal well.
- Third-Degree Road Rash. Third-degree road rash is the most severe form, and it is the most likely to result in scarring and permanent damage, including long-lasting road rash pain. An injury is classified as third-degree road rash when the top two layers of the skin peel away, exposing muscle, fat, or bone. These kinds of injuries should receive immediate medical attention, and may even require skin grafts or reconstructive surgeries.
Financial Liability in Road Rash Injuries
There are provisions under the law that allow victims who suffer road rash injuries as a result of a traffic accident to seek compensation for damages in civil court from the parties that are responsible. The likelihood of recovering financial compensation following a road rash accident depends on a number of factors. Most accident victims who prove that another person is at fault and collect compensation for their injuries receive compensatory damages. These are meant to counterbalance the financial and emotional expenses the victim incurred as a result of the accident and their injuries. To determine whether you have a strong case following an accident, consult a qualified road rash injury lawyer who can evaluate the facts of your case and offer advice tailored to your unique situation.