What Are the Degrees of Road Rash?

Road Rash InjuryThere are few things better than taking your motorcycle out for a ride, especially when the road is empty, and the weather is clear. For a lot of riders, it’s the feel of being outside that makes the ride so special. But that “outside” can be dangerous for riders, too; the structure around you, the greater the risk in the event of a collision.

Motorcycle riders are not only at risk of being fatally injured in a collision with another vehicle; they can suffer serious, life-altering injuries. One of the most significant injuries resulting from motorcycle wrecks is road rash. “Road rash,” also known as “road burn,” occurs when riders suffer abrasions from the friction of scraping their skin against a rough surface. Motorcycle riders can easily experience road rash from being ejected from their motorcycles in a collision with another vehicle.

What are the different degrees of road rash?

Similar to burn injuries, road rash injuries vary by degrees. The three common types of road rash consist of first-degree, second-degree, and third-degree road rash. First-degree injuries tend to be minor, while second-degree and third-degree injuries tend to be more serious and severe. Regardless of the type of injury a motorcycle rider sustains, motorcycle riders are advised to seek medical attention and get an assessment on their injury.

What is a first-degree road rash injury?

First-degree road rash injuries consist of minor injuries like small scrapes, bruises, slight bleeding, and tenderness. With first-degree road rash injuries, the top layer of skin is bruised or damaged, and there is little chance of permanent scarring. These types of injuries can often be treated at home. Victims can wash the wounded area with soap and water to avoid infection.

What is a second-degree road rash injury?

Second-degree road rash injuries occur when there is damage done to the lower layers of skin. Symptoms include bleeding, swelling, and exposed tendons or nerves. Motorcycle riders with these types of injuries experience more pain than first-degree injury victims. With second-degree road rash injuries, scarring is common. Victims with these types of injuries are advised to keep the wounds clean and seek medical attention immediately.

What is a third-degree road rash injury?

Third-degree road rash injuries are the most severe injuries. These are the injuries where motorcycle riders lose significant portions of their skin. In addition to skin flaying off, some characteristics of third-degree road rash injuries are swelling, bleeding, deep wounds, and a shiny or milky appearance around the wounded area.

These are the types of injuries where victims can experience extreme pain or no pain at all as a result of nerve damage. They almost always cause scarring, and some victims may sustain permanent disfigurement. It is important for victims with third-degree road rash injuries to seek medical attention immediately and do their best not to touch the wounded area to avoid infection.

When are road rash injuries be life-threatening to Nashville motorcycle accident victims?

Although first-degree and second-degree road rash injuries may not be as immediately life-threatening as, say, traumatic brain injuries or spinal damage, it doesn’t make road rash any less serious. Any time there is an open wound, there is a risk of infection. Some of the typical signs of infection include swelling, a foul odor, the development of pus, and the spread of redness around the wounded area. Motorcycle riders should make sure that they seek medical attention and, if necessary, obtain antibiotics to deal with an infection.

This is especially true when the body is exposed to road debris, like dirt or glass. If the wound is not thoroughly cleaned and the infection is allowed to spread, the rider is at risk of sepsis, a potentially life-threatening inflammatory response.

Further, more severe cases of road rash may require surgical intervention. Third-degree road rash injuries often require skin grafts, and if the bones are damaged, victims may need pins to hold them in place.

Finally, if road rash leads to permanent nerve damage, the rider may end up living with chronic pain, or lose mobility. It can make it impossible for that rider to go back to work or secure other employment. If the damage causes permanent disfigurement, the rider may suffer from emotional trauma as well.

What is traumatic tattooing?

On potential effect of road rash is “traumatic tattooing.” Traumatic tattooing is a condition where pigmented debris is not washed out of the wound. In addition to scarring, traumatic tattooing can leave discoloration around the wounded area.

How to avoid becoming the victim of road rash

Motorcycle riders are advised to wear fitting protective gear to help prevent road rash. Because certain body parts such as the face, knees, lower legs, shoulders, and thighs are the areas of the body that are commonly affected by road rash, motorcycle riders need to pay special attention to those areas. That clothing can include:

  • Long pants, preferably made of a sturdier material
  • Fitted jackets
  • Boots which cover the ankles and part (or all) of the shins
  • Gloves
  • Helmets, which are required by law in Tennessee for riders of all ages

Motorcyclists have rights, too. Our experienced Nashville motorcycle injury attorneys at Rocky McElhaney Law Firm fight for your fair share of the road and fair judgment in your personal injury case. To schedule a free consultation with an experienced Tennessee motorcycle accident lawyer in one of our offices in Nashville, Hendersonville, or Clarksville, please call 615.425.2500, or fill out our contact form.