Motorcycle Accidents and Medical Issues

Motorcycle accidents present numerous issues that you must resolve by working with different types of professionals, such as health care providers, attorneys and insurance agents.  Medical issues are perhaps the most physically and emotionally demanding issues you will face on your road to recovery.  This category of issues encompasses life-threatening injuries, tiresome rehabilitation, buying expensive medications, communicating with doctors and other health care providers, and insurance coverage.

Most people do not understand the complexities of the medical community.  Without thorough knowledge of the medical community and how the system interacts with the legal system and insurance agencies, it is easy to make simple mistakes that cause tremendous problems.  Giving incorrect information to a physician can inadvertently cause significant complications to your insurance claim, for example.  Not being treated by the proper specialist can mean full recovery takes much longer or becomes impossible.

InjuryBoard’s goal is to clearly outline the medical issues arising out of a motorcycle accident, so you can get the medical care you require quickly and without confusion.   In this article, we will outline the most common injuries for which you may require medical attention, stress the importance of finding the right doctor early in the process, and reveal to you how to avoid making your injuries worse.

Common Injuries

Statistics show motorcycle riders are sixteen times more likely to die and three times more likely to be injured as occupants of traditional automobiles.  Because motorcyclists are significantly more exposed than automobile occupants, they are more vulnerable to certain types of injuries.

  • CLICK HERE - for more statistics on motorcycle accidents

Head Injuries – Head injuries are the leading cause of death in motorcycle accidents.  A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration study estimates that wearing a motorcycle helmet can reduce the likelihood of a fatality by 29%.  The issue of whether motorcycle helmets should be required by law is a hotly debated topic.  For more information regarding this debate, please see our article on the Helmet Debate.

Skin Abrasions – These are some of the most frequent, but least serious, injuries resulting from motorcycle collisions.  They are caused when a motorcyclist is thrown from the vehicle and his or her skin makes contact with asphalt or concrete.  The scrapes usually heal with minimal medical attention.

Orthopedic Injuries – When accident victims are thrown from their motorcycles, they often attempt to avoid injury by using their arms or legs to soften their fall.  The force of the impact frequently results in wrist and leg injuries.  In some cases, shoulder and spinal cord injuries are also caused by awkward falls from the motorcycle.

Psychological Trauma – Depending on the magnitude of the collision and the injuries suffered, an accident victim may experience psychological trauma for which he or she may require treatment.  Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can stem from intense or terrifying emotional experiences in which severe physical harm occurs or is threatened.  The victim may become emotionally numb, develop insomnia, or experience flashbacks during which he or she re-lives the traumatic event.

  • CLICK HERE - for more resources on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

Interactions between Legal, Insurance, and Medical Issues

While resolving issues from your motorcycle accident, you will probably notice the interaction between medical, insurance, and legal issues.  Some aspects of these areas intersect, making it increasingly important for you to act appropriately and speak the truth. 

First, you should make sure you feel comfortable with your physician.  Patient-physician trust will facilitate honest and open discussion about symptoms and treatment options.  Next, make sure the physician is capable of diagnosing and treating your symptoms.  You may wish to consult a doctor that specializes in the injury from which you suffer.

The interplay between medical issues and legal and insurance issues becomes obvious when you visit your doctor.  If you have consulted a lawyer, he or she may ask you to notify him or her before each medical appointment.  This is because, sometimes, motorcycle accident victims try to act as though their injuries are less severe than they actually are.  An accident victim may not want others to view him or her as weak, so the victim may pretend that he or she is unfazed by injuries when in reality, the victim is experiencing pain.

Making light of your pain may cause more trouble than you expect.  A physician may misdiagnose a patient’s condition if the person downplays his or her pain level and symptoms.  Consequently, the patient will not receive the treatment, medication, or physical therapy that may be necessary for full recuperation.  The problems of a patient lying about symptoms often create problems with insurance as well.  The physician will note the patient’s symptoms in the record.  If the patient has minimized the amount of pain he or she is experiencing, the insurance company may stop payment for medical treatments, citing the physician record as evidence that the patient feels healthy. 

Patient-doctor communications may also raise allegations of “intervening causes.”  An insurance company may allege that an intervening cause -- some event that happened between the time of the motorcycle accident and the time of your visit – may be the actual cause of the patient’s pain.  This claim may arise from a patient reporting to the doctor that he or she feels fine, but then mention that he or she suffered pain when doing yard work or household chores.  The insurance company may notice this record and claim that the yard work or chores, and not the motorcycle accident, caused the patient’s injury.  The company may then use the physician record as justification for terminating payment for the patient’s ongoing medical treatment.  This is true even though the doctor can verify that the patient’s pain resulted from the accident.

During your pre-visit phone call, your lawyer may suggest that, while always being truthful, you describe your symptoms more fully when communicating with your doctor.   For example, instead of telling your doctor that you’re generally feeling well but experienced pain while doing yard work, you may want to say that you’re feeling pain whenever you exert yourself.  Sometimes communicating the same idea in a different way can make an important difference.

KEY STRATEGY – Describe your condition honestly and accurately with both your physician and your insurance company, avoiding language that allows your insurance company to take advantage and discontinue your medical payments.

Make Recovery a Priority

Although it may seem like common sense to avoid exacerbating your injuries, many people harm themselves by performing strenuous activities too soon after being involved in an accident.  It is crucial to take all medication as prescribed, get plenty of rest, complete your rehabilitation program, and follow all of your physician’s orders to guarantee a swift and safe recovery.

Read the next article: Motorcycle Accidents: Insurance and Legal Issues 

Contact an attorney in your area.