blog home Motorcycle Accident Road Rash: Who Is at Risk?

By Renee Nordstrand on January 27, 2021

motorcyclist on Harley-Davidson

When you picture road rash, you may conjure an image of a scraped knee or skinned elbow. While those are technically mild forms of road rash, the severe forms can be much, much worse. Third-degree road rash, for example, usually results in skin, muscle, and tendon being stripped away from the body. In some cases, the bone may even be visible.

These kinds of injuries are devastating and life-threatening. In one we handled, our client was wearing full leathers but still suffered severe road rash injuries and required expensive medical treatment to recover. After an accident, victims of severe road rash have a long and difficult road to recovery in front of them. But who is most at risk for such a severe injury?


When you cross a road at a designated crosswalk, you do so assuming the drivers on the road will patiently wait for you to cross. However, that is not always the case. Pedestrians are often struck by distracted, or even drunk, drivers. When that happens, the pedestrian is often sent flying backward until they hit the road. They slide, and the rough surface of the road quickly strips away their skin.

When the car responsible for the accident with the pedestrian is going particularly fast, the pedestrian will skid across the road for a longer period of time. This means more contact with the road and more time for the road to damage the pedestrian’s skin and muscle. That will result in severe road rash injuries.

Bike Riders

Unlike pedestrians, most bike riders will wear at least one key piece of protective clothing: a helmet. Helmets help bike riders avoid head injuries, such as brain damage, in the event of an accident. They can also help protect the rider’s head from road rash. However, helmets do not protect the rest of the body.

Similarly to pedestrians, bike riders who are hit by cars at high speeds will slam into the road, where they could be dragged and suffer severe road rash. However, bike riders are at a higher risk than pedestrians, because sidewalks and crosswalks are available for pedestrians to use. Bike riders, however, must ride alongside cars. This puts bike riders at higher risk for road rash.

Motorcycle Operators

While motorcycle riders are not required to wear safety gear in California, most elect to. Common safety gear includes helmets, leather jackets, and hardened boots. All of these pieces of safety gear are meant to provide a buffer between the rider and the road in the event of an accident. This is because motorcycle riders are the most at risk for road rash injuries.

Not only are motorcyclists always on the road with cars, but motorcycles also travel at much higher speeds than bicycles or pedestrians. If there is a collision between a motorcycle and car, it will almost always be a high-speed and high-impact crash. While leather clothing and helmets will protect the rider to an extent, if the accident occurs with enough force, the leathers will be worn away by the road and will no longer be able to provide any protection.

Recovering After Road Rash

Road rash injuries are nothing to laugh off. In severe cases, such as with a third-degree road rash, extensive treatments and surgeries are required to try to keep the victim alive. Even after the wound has healed, it will leave the victim with permanent scars and potential disabilities and may acquire additional treatment and care to repair the scarring. In addition, treatment comes with massive medical costs.

If you have suffered severe road rash, then you may be in a deep financial hole, with no way to dig yourself out. However, you shouldn’t have to. If your injuries were caused by someone else’s negligence, then you have legal options. Contact our firm, NordstrandBlack PC, to speak with a member of our excellent Santa Barbara personal injury team. We have the experience you need to obtain fair compensation for your injuries. Call us at (805) 962-2022 to begin your free consultation.

Posted in: Motorcycle Accident