Road Rash is a Serious Bicycle Accident Injury

Bicyclists suffer some of the most horrific injuries when struck by a passing vehicle. In addition to concussions, they might also endure a fractured pelvis, facial injuries, or whiplash. A rib could fracture, leading to a collapsed lung, and many cyclists end up on life support.

Road rash is also common, and this little-known injury can have dramatic consequences. At Ladah law Firm, we always seek the maximum compensation for our bicycle accident clients. Below, we look closely at road rash and explain why it is so dangerous.

Victim of a bicycle accident showing off the road rash on their right arm.

What is Road Rash?

This is a type of abrasion injury that bicyclists and motorcyclists can suffer when thrown from their vehicle. Abrasions are friction wounds. Any exposed part of the body can drag along asphalt or dirt, generating heat and rubbing the skin. The friction ends up tearing the skin and can, if sufficiently serious, lift flaps of skin to expose the soft-tissue underneath.

Imagine you are riding a bicycle while wearing shorts and a T-shirt. After getting clipped by a passing motorist, you are thrown from your bicycle and your arms and legs scrape along the asphalt. You can expect serious damage to your skin.

Road rash is most common in the following areas:

  • Palms
  • Elbows
  • Knees
  • Forearms
  • Legs
  • Face

One way to protect yourself is to wear a jacket and long pants tucked into your socks. But the force of an accident could still hike up your clothing to expose bare skin.

How is Road Rash Treated?

You might be bleeding heavily from any exposed areas, so you need to clean and close the wound. Go to the hospital, where a doctor will help clean out dirt and debris.

Some road rash can heal on its own in a matter of weeks, so you will not need surgery or grafts. Talk to your doctor about how to prevent scarring. You will probably also receive an antibiotic to prevent infection and might need to wear a bandage for several weeks.

Severe road rash possibly requires skin grafts. This process involves taking skin from a different part of your body and transplanting it to the affected area. Sometimes, doctors take grafts from a donor, like a cadaver. The body sometimes rejects skin grafts, and you might need to do the procedure over again until the graft heals in place.

Most patients will also need pain management. A doctor might prescribe a painkiller to take, which can help you feel more comfortable though there are side effects with that, as well.

What Are Complications from Road Rash?

One of the biggest is that you will get an infection. Serious infections (like staph infections) can occur whenever your skin is cut. Failing to clean the wound in time might contribute to the risk of infection.

In the days after the accident, look for signs of infection:

  • Redness around the wound
  • Extreme heat radiating from the wound
  • Any pus draining
  • Extreme pain at the wound site
  • Fever

You want to treat an infection right away, because untreated infections can lead to sepsis and other critical medical conditions. It’s crazy to think that an abrasion on your leg could ultimately lead to death, but it’s possible.

You might also have restricted movement. If you receive skin grafts at a joint, you might experience a dramatic reduction in your flexibility and range of movement. Some bicyclists need physical therapy to help stretch the affected area so that they can bend their arms and knees like they used to. This physical therapy can be grueling.

Compensation for Road Rash

As with other bicycle injuries, you deserve compensation for:

  • Medical care
  • Lost wages or income
  • Damage to your bicycle

Road rash can also cause emotional distress, sometimes quite extreme. For example, you might suffer road rash on your face and have permanent, disfiguring scars over one eye and your cheek. You might feel embarrassed and withdraw from friends. Some people struggle to return to their old life due to deformities caused by bicycle accidents.

As mentioned above, road rash can be a simple injury for some people. You might heal in no time and have only faint scars. For others, however, they could qualify for substantial compensation to help them recover. You should consult an attorney to review your legal options.

Injured in a Bicycle Accident? Call Us

Ladah Law Firm recognizes the importance of bicycle safety. If you were hurt in a crash, contact us at (702) 252-0055. We will review whether you can sue someone, like the driver who hit you. Our consultations are no-risk and free.