Facts About Road Rash

One of the most common types of motorcycle injuries a rider experiences in a crash is road rash. In many cases, road rash is not life-threatening and heals within a few weeks of the accident.

However, some riders experience severe cases of road rash or complications from road rash that result in long, painful months of recovery.  In the worst cases, road rash could result in substantial scarring and permanent impairments.

What is Road Rash?

Road rash is the term used by many motorcyclists to describe the skin abrasions caused by a motorcycle accident. When a rider’s body comes in contact with a rough surface, such as asphalt, gravel, concrete, or pavement, the contact can cause multiple lacerations. If the rider “slides” or is drug across the pavement, the skin peels up or is scraped away.

Motorcycle accidents almost always result in the rider hitting the pavement. Therefore, road rash is common. However, the degree or level of road rash depends on the exact circumstances of the crash.

What Prevents Road Rash in a Motorcycle Crash?

A rider has no way of knowing what will occur in a motorcycle accident. Will the rider be thrown from the motorcycle or drug along with the motorcycle across the pavement. However, there are steps that riders can take to reduce the risk of severe abrasions from a motorcycle accident.

  • Wearing a motorcycle helmet with a protective shield can help prevent lacerations and other facial injuries.
  • Always wear boots and gloves when riding a motorcycle to protect hands, feet, ankles, and legs.
  • Wear motorcycle clothing that will not “shred” as easily when being drug across the pavement. Leather jackets and special riding pants and shirts can be helpful.

These steps might be simple, but they can also be effective.

Are There Different Degrees of Road Rash?

Yes, road rash can be defined by the degree of damage to the skin from the abrasions and lacerations received during a motorcycle accident.

Mild or First-Degree Road Rash

Mild road rash is the least severe case of road rash. First-degree road rash generally heals within a few weeks after the accident.

The skin may appear to be severely sunburned, but there are no open wounds. There may be multiple scratches and scrapes.

Moderate or Second-Degree Road Rash

While first-degree road rash affects just the outer layer of skin, moderate or second-degree road rash causes damage to several layers of skin. There could be several areas in which the skin has broken apart from the abrasions. Gravel, dirt, glass, and other debris may have entered the abrasions.

A doctor should carefully remove debris and clean the area to prevent infections and complications. Second-degree road rash can result in some scarring.

Severe or Third-Degree Road Rash

The most severe case of road rash causes damage to multiple layers of skin. The abrasions may result in the underlying tissues, fat layers, and muscles to be exposed. Wounds may bleed freely and have deeper lacerations in addition to the abrasions.

Third-degree road rash needs immediate medical attention. It can cause severe scarring and disfigurement, as well as severe complications and infections.

Common Treatments for Road Rash

Mild road rash can generally be treated at home. A doctor can advise a rider on the best way to treat road rash and if treatments other than simple wound care are required to prevent further complications.

General wound care may include:

  • washing the area with mild antibacterial soap and water.
  • patting dry and allowing to dry completely.
  • applying antibacterial cream and special lotion.
  • covering areas with clean bandages.

If you suspect that your injury is severe, do not hesitate to seek medical treatment.

Infections and Complications from Road Rash

One of the most common complications of road rash is scarring. Property wound care can reduce the risk of severe scarring from abrasions after a motorcycle accident.

Another common worry about road rash is the development of an infection. Some infections can be life-threatening and result in lifelong impairments. Staph infection and necrotizing fasciitis are two common infections that can result in internal organ failure and sepsis.

A rider needs to keep a careful watch for signs of infection, including but not limited to:

  • swelling and/or redness
  • fever
  • vomiting and/or nausea
  • flu-like symptoms
  • chills
  • headache
  • foul-smelling discharge or pus
  • warmth around the road rash
  • wounds that do not heal

If a rider notices any signs of infection, it is best to seek immediate medical care to prevent life-threatening conditions.

Can a Rider Receive Compensation for Road Rash?

Yes, a motorcyclist can receive compensation for road rash caused by a motorcycle accident. Documentation of the injuries and damages is key to recovering maximum compensation. Medical records are essential, but photographs of the road rash are extremely helpful in proving the severity of the injury.

If the road rash causes scarring and disfigurement, the rider may also be compensated for these damages. Also, if the road rash caused an infection or other complication, the expenses and losses associated with those injuries are included in a motorcycle accident claim.