Motorcycle Accidents that Result in Paralysis Injuries

Motorcycle Accident Paralysis Injuries

Few things are as terrifying as paralysis. Second only to head injuries, permanent or full-body paralysis are one of the worst that can happen to motorcycle riders. The prospect of losing mobility or the ability to do basic everyday tasks can be a nightmare for someone who enjoys an active lifestyle and the open road.

Unfortunately, 22% of motorcycle crash incidents in the US result in a neck or spinal injury, which can lead to paralysis in severe cases.

The Different Types of Paralysis

Paralysis is the loss of motor function in certain parts of the body. Depending on the severity, it can be localized (such as hand), generalized (such one as one side of the body), or in worst cases, full-body. It can also be temporary or permanent.

There are four types of generalized paralysis:

Monoplegia –  when one arm or leg is paralyzed

Hemiplegia – both an arm and leg are paralyzed, usually on the same side of the body

Paraplegia – paralysis from the rib cage down

Quadriplegia –  paralysis from the neck down

Because paraplegia and quadriplegia affect the lower part of the body, victims also suffer loss of function of the bladder, bowels and reproductive organs. 

The High Toll of Paralysis

NHTSA data shows that spinal cord injuries are the second largest cause of bikers in rehabilitation care, next to brain trauma, and require the longest hospital stay. Of bikers who suffered a spinal injury, 20% were left with permanent complications, while 10% died.

Because paralysis involves the loss of motor function, the toll it takes on victims goes beyond medical costs. A paralyzed rider can expect additional losses in the form of lost wages and long-term rehabilitation costs.

If the rider was not at fault in the accident that caused the paralysis, they can also file for compensation for:

  • Pain and suffering
  • Permanent disability
  • Emotional trauma
  • Loss of quality of life
  • Punitive damages

Managing Paralysis after a Motorcycle Accident

Riders who suffer a paralyzing accident will usually require extended treatment, in the form of:

  • Regular medication
  • Surgery (initial or multiple ones, depending on the outcome)
  • Physical therapy
  • Rehabilitation care

Victims who suffer paraplegia or quadriplegia will require more aftercare support:

  • Catheter insertion and training
  • Bowel training program
  • Extended therapy (physical, plus occupational or vocational)
  • Sexual dysfunction support
  • Assisted breathing (in cases of chest paralysis)
  • Disability counseling

Do Helmets Contribute to Spinal Injuries?

One persistent belief is that motorcycle helmets can cause neck or spine injuries during an accident. The opposite is true: helmets actually minimize the chances of suffering a spine injury when they are properly worn.

In one 5-year clinical study, it was found that helmeted riders were 2x less likely to suffer a spinal injury than non-helmeted riders. They also suffered less cervical spine fractures and fewer torn ligaments.

Another study of motorcycle crashes by Australian researchers showed that 85% of helmets surveyed in the study were damaged, but less than 25% of bikers had a head or neck injury. 

Filing a Personal Injury Claim

A paralyzing accident can be one of the worst outcomes for a rider who is used to enjoying life. Apart from extensive medical bills, their new condition can greatly diminish their career prospects, relationships, hobbies, mental health and quality of life.

In paralysis cases, it’s important to consider both the immediate and future expenses it will cause down the road. We recommend consulting a motorcycle accident lawyer to help determine the proper compensation, claim damages and negotiate with the negligent party from a position of strength.

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