The Most Common Motorcycle Accident Injuries (2024)

Reviewed By Adam Ramirez, J.D.


Read in 5 mins

Motorcycles offer a sense of freedom on the road, but with that freedom comes danger. Injuries from motorcycle accidents are fairly common because motorcycles provide minimal protection in accidents. This makes it more likely you could suffer a severe injury or even death.

We delve into the common types of injuries riders face and crucial steps to take after a motorcycle accident. Whether you're a seasoned rider or considering hitting the road on two wheels for the first time, understanding these risks will help protect your health and your legal rights.

Motorcycle Injury Risks

Motorcycles require a higher skill level to operate than standard cars, while providing virtually no protection from injury when a crash occurs. This leads to an increased risk of serious injury or death if you find yourself in a motorcycle accident. As of 2021, nearly 6,000 people died in motorcycle accidents in the U.S. In the same year, 82,686 non-fatal motorcycle crash injuries were reported.

Some risks are within your power to prevent. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), wearing a helmet can reduce your risk of brain injury by at least 41% and fatality by at least 22%. Other steps that can help you ride safely include wearing protective clothing, riding defensively, and avoiding drugs and alcohol. No activity is without risk, but taking steps to protect yourself can help reduce the likelihood you will suffer an injury.

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Most Common Motorcycle Injuries

It is possible to injure any part of the body in a motorcycle crash. While common car accident injuries can also appear in motorcycle accidents, you are at greater risk of serious injury on a motorcycle. Motorcycles do not provide physical protection, leaving you exposed to severe damage. Here are the most common motorcycle injuries that occur in an accident.

Soft Tissue Injuries

Even minor motorcycle crashes can cause soft tissue injuries. These injuries include damage to your skin, muscles, or tendons. Road rash, an abrasion that occurs when your skin is scraped on impact with pavement, is very common in motorcycle accidents. Road rash is sometimes a minor injury, but it can be serious if the abrasions are severe. At its worst, road rash can cause lasting nerve damage or scarring.

Soft tissue injuries are typically less severe than other types of injuries, and may heal on their own. However, they can be symptoms of more severe injuries that require medical treatment.

Leg injuries

The most common motorcycle injury occurs in the lower extremities. In a crash, you risk a motorcycle weighing hundreds of pounds falling onto you or being struck in the leg by a passenger vehicle. Unsurprisingly, fractures are the most common leg injuries.


While leg fractures are common injuries in motorcycle accidents, broken bones can occur in any part of the body. A study in the National Library of Medicine found hand and wrist fractures to be the next most common injury after legs. This may be due to riders attempting to brace themselves when falling from their motorcycle in an accident.

Severe fractures may require surgery, including placement of rods or other hardware when the bone has suffered significant damage. This type of injury may require rehabilitation or leave a lasting disability.

Spinal Cord Injuries

Car and motorcycle accidents are one of the leading causes of spinal cord injury. Damage to the spine from a motorcycle crash can have severe consequences. When the spinal cord is damaged, it can result in loss of movement, sensation, and bodily functions such as bladder or bowel control.

Spinal cord injuries can significantly impact your quality of life. Rehabilitation and ongoing medical care may be necessary to manage the effects of your injury and improve your long-term outlook.

Head Injuries

Head injuries, including traumatic brain injuries, are a major concern in motorcycle accidents. The NHTSA found that head injuries are a leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes. Wearing a motorcycle helmet reduces the risk of death by 37%.

A traumatic brain injury can result from a violent blow to the head, as can occur in a motorcycle accident. Symptoms include headaches, dizziness, confusion, and temporary loss of consciousness. In some cases, traumatic brain injury can lead to long-term changes in personality, decreased cognitive function, and increased risk of degenerative diseases.

Internal injuries

Suffering a blow to your body can cause damage to organs or internal bleeding. Lungs are particularly vulnerable, and may be punctured by fractured ribs or a foreign object entering the body. Treatment of lung injuries could require ventilation or surgery.

It is possible to suffer internal injuries even if an injury is not visible immediately. For example, internal bleeding can be a serious or life-threatening condition even when no external blood is present. Signs of internal bleeding include pain at the point of injury, tightness in the stomach, nausea, and losing consciousness.

Steps To Take After a Motorcycle Accident

After a motorcycle accident, follow these steps to protect yourself and your rights:

  • Seek medical attention immediately, even if you don’t think you’ve suffered severe injuries
  • Contact the police and file an accident report
  • If you are able, gather contact information from others involved in the accident and any witnesses
  • Follow your doctor’s recommendations for treatment and follow up care
  • Document your injuries and any expenses carefully
  • Report the accident to your insurance company

How A Lawyer Can Help After a Motorcycle Accident

Hiring a personal injury lawyer after a motorcycle accident caused by someone else can help ensure you receive fair compensation. A lawyer will guide you and provide support so that you can focus on healing and moving forward. You can expect a lawyer to help in the following ways:

  • Investigation. Your lawyer will gather evidence to support your claims for compensation. This may include following up with witnesses, gathering medical treatment documents, or obtaining a copy of the police report.
  • Navigating insurance. Insurance companies sometimes make inadequate settlement offers that will not cover the damages you have suffered. A lawyer can negotiate with them on your behalf and pursue a remedy in court if necessary.
  • Guidance and support. A lawyer will help talk you through the legal process and can help you understand the strengths and weaknesses of your case. They are also prepared to advocate for you in the event you need to file a motorcycle accident lawsuit.

Fill out the form on this page to have your case evaluated by a lawyer for free.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • In 2021, there were 5,932 fatalities from motorcycle accidents in the U.S. This number has trended upwards since 2018.

  • Lower extremity injuries are the most common in a motorcycle accident. This can include skin abrasions like road rash, or fractures in the legs or feet.

  • According to the National Safety Council, Florida recorded the most motorcycle deaths (668 in 2022). The next closest states were California (634), Texas (564), Arizona (232), Georgia (221), and North Carolina (220). Alaska recorded the fewest motorcycle deaths of any state.

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