Common motorbike accident injuries

15 April 2016

Motorcycles offer a sense of freedom that cars and other vehicles can't. 

Especially at this time of year enthusiasts love to be out on their bikes on open roads. Riders know there are inherent risks, but from our experience of helping injured riders after road traffic accidents we highlight the most common types of injuries we see and look at what steps you could take to help minimise or avoid these injuries.


Riders are often thrown from their bike following a collision. Leg fractures are very common types of injury, as well as broken arms and other bones. These fractures can become more complicated if bones break through the surface of the skin, causing lacerations and damage to tendons, ligaments and nerves. In extreme cases limbs may need to be amputated.

Damage to pelvis

Pelvic fractures are also very common and can cause complications with urological injuries. This area of the body is often crushed with the trauma and impact on petrol tanks and the middle frame of the bike.

Biker's arm

Often if a bike falls on its side a rider can sustain crush injuries to their arm and shoulder. This can cause nerve damage affecting the future function of the arm or paralysis.

Road rash

When a rider hits the ground at speed the friction will often cause skin and bone abrasions. These can be painful and at worst can cause permanent scarring and disfigurement and there may be a need for plastic surgery.

Spinal cord injury

The spinal cord transmits nerve impulses from the brain to the rest of the body. It is protected by vertebrae, but can become damaged in an accident. This can cause very serious, life changing injury, such as paralysis. The extent of the damage depends upon the exact location of the injury and whether the entire spinal cord has been damaged.

Traumatic brain injury

Motorcycle accidents often involve some form of head trauma. This can be mild to severe, depending on the accident.

Mild traumatic brain injury usually refers to those injuries where there's a loss of consciousness of not more than 30 minutes, and post-traumatic amnesia periods of less than one day.  It may be possible to sustain a traumatic brain injury where there's not been a loss of consciousness and these types of injuries can often be overlooked after an accident, for example many riders can be more concerned with the damage to their bike.

Symptoms of brain injury can persist for varying lengths of time and in some cases can lead to permanent impairment. Some of the recognised symptoms include:

  • Nausea, vomiting, headaches, diplopia (blurred vision), persistent and erratic sleep disturbance, susceptible to early fatigue, marked lethargy or loss of taste/smell
  • Attention deficit, poor concentration, unusual perceptions, decreased memory power, impaired speech/language recollection or diminished executive functions
  • Behavioural changes or alterations in an individual's emotional responses. For example, irritability, outbursts of anger, uninhibited behaviour that can't be accounted for by a psychological reaction, emotional stress, or other causes

Emotional trauma

Riders can be emotionally traumatised after accidents, for example suffering with post traumatic stress disorder, depression, or travel anxiety. These symptoms can last for many years and some riders will be unable to get back on a bike again. However, many riders can be helped with appropriate rehabilitation and expert treatments such as cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or eye movement de-sensitisation and reprocessing (EMDR). With expert help, riders often make a recovery and get back to biking.

Personal protective equipment

Wearing suitable protective equipment and an approved helmet can help reduce these risks of injury. Most motorcycle gear is now designed to give high visibility of the rider, use abrasion resistant fabrics, help with impact protection with extra padding and armour. They can also provide weather protection. For a typical British summer this can help make a ride less dangerous and cater for the changing weather conditions and give protection from the elements.

If you are injured in a motorcycle accident our team of specialist personal injury solicitors have a wealth of experience in dealing with such cases.

Tell us what you think

All documents should be read and used in accordance with the terms and conditions. This document is for your general information only and is not a detailed statement of the law. It is provided to you free of charge and should not be used as a substitute for specific legal advice. If you require specific legal advice please contact our client services team on 03700 868686.



This information is for educational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. It is recommended that specific professional advice is sought before acting on any of the information given. © Shoosmiths LLP 2024

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