A motorcycle accident in Houston can cause serious, even fatal, injuries. Every time a client comes to us suffering the pain and loss of a motorcycle wreck, our hearts go out. As motorcycle accident injury lawyers, we make our living fighting to recover compensation for injured bikers and the families of those who died tragically in a crash. Regardless, we would happily give all of that up to prevent that suffering from ever happening.
Realistically, we know we can’t stop motorcycle crashes from happening entirely, but we can do our part to educate the public about Houston motorcycle accident risks.
We’ve previously written about the causes of those accidents and laws about motorcycle helmet use. Today, we’re going to tackle a related subject: the types of injuries bikers can suffer in a Houston motorcycle accident, what features of riding in Houston puts riders at risk for them, and how an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer can help secure compensation for injuries and losses that threaten to overwhelm victims and their families.
Motorcycle Accidents in Houston: A Major Problem
If you ride a motorcycle in Houston, you probably already know this, but to make sure, let’s just put it right out there: Houston is not the most motorcycle-friendly city. Actually, that’s putting it too mildly.
Houston is seriously unfriendly when it comes to riding motorcycles. We have heavy traffic on the I-610 Loop and the major arterials. We have extreme heat in the summer that bakes the pavement and makes drivers angry and prone to engage in dangerous behaviors, not to mention the afternoon thunderstorms that make riding treacherous. Houston has flat, straight roads that often have significant debris on them. For a lot of Houston motorcyclists, getting out of town constitutes the best part of riding in the area.
Poor riding conditions tend to translate into motorcycle accidents, and Houston experiences its fair share of wrecks. According to the Texas Department of Transportation’s Crash Records Information System (CRIS), more than 600 motorcycle crashes happen here every year, resulting in dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries, almost all of them suffered by motorcycle riders and passengers.
Many of those crashes happen on Houston’s crowded highways, like I-610, I-45, and I-69, especially at interchanges and on/off ramps where those roads connect with major arterials, like Westheimer Road and North McCarty Street. But, even in-town streets see a steady stream of motorcycle accidents every year. You can’t go far in Houston without crossing or riding on a road that’s seen a serious bike accident in the past few years.
All those accidents translate into injuries. A lot of injuries. In fact, according to CRIS, about 85% of all Houston motorcycle accidents cause at least a possible injury (as recorded on police incident reports), and over half result in known injuries. In fact, statewide, motorcycle wrecks account for well over 10% of deaths and serious injuries in traffic accidents, even though motorcycles make up for only about 2% of all registered vehicles in the Lone Star State.
Bottom line: Houston sees far too many motorcycle wrecks every year, and they routinely cause life-threatening and life-altering injuries to bikers. The rest of this blog will discuss the types of injuries bikers can face, and how a lawyer can help bikers secure compensation to help them heal, rebuild, and (hopefully) get back out on the road.
The Wide and Ugly Array of Houston Motorcycle Crash Injuries
There aren’t many ways to avoid injury in a motorcycle wreck. Bikers have no physical barrier between themselves and the elements—that’s a main attraction of riding. In a crash, that means riders, not their machines, tend to absorb the bulk of the impact. Experienced bikers know that you dress for the slide, not the ride, which means decking yourself out in protective gear, from helmets to back-guards to friction-resistant jackets and pants. Still, safety gear can only do so much to protect a rider’s body from harm. In Houston’s hot, muggy climate, not all riders wear full covering anyway.
So, when a crash sends a rider flying or sliding, the results can get ugly. Below we discuss just some of the serious, potentially fatal injuries motorcyclists can end up suffering in a wreck.
Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)
If you haven’t read our rant about why you should wear a helmet, well, you should. Here’s the thumbnail version: motorcycle helmets save lives, and you should always wear one. Period. (This has been a public service announcement from your friendly motorcycle accident injury lawyer.)
Why helmets? Because you need your brain, and it can’t protect itself, that’s why. Also, your skull doesn’t stand a chance against a hard road surface, and even if it did, it doesn’t do much to protect your brain from violent impacts anyway.
See, the human brain basically floats in a cushion of liquid inside the skull. When you sustain a blow or jolt—like, say, landing on your head after getting thrown from your ride—the force of impact shakes the brain, causing it to bang against the inner walls of the skull, to twist on the brain stem, and/or to deform like a sponge getting squeezed. That trauma causes damage to brain tissue, nerves, and blood vessels, and triggers chemical changes in the brain, which together make the brain stop working as it should.
In short, bikers may sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI).
A TBI can kill you. It can also put you in a coma. It can also mess up your brain function to a point that you suffer from permanent impairments to any or all of your bodily and mental functions, from holding a fork to calculating simple addition. The brain also doesn’t heal quickly or predictably, which means a traumatic brain injury can linger and cause a frustrating constellation of symptoms that come and go over time.
TBI victims can lose their ability to work or to live independently. They often face high medical costs and may develop debilitating mental health complications.
In the strongest terms, we encourage all motorcycle riders to wear helmets, which drastically reduce the risk of TBIs in a motorcycle wreck.
Spinal Cord Injury (SCI)
The spinal cord, which runs through and is protected by the spine, transmits messages from the brain to the body. A spinal cord injury constitutes any damage to or pressure on the cord that interrupts those messages. For example, a biker who lands hard on the road surface might fracture vertebrae in such a way as to nick or pinch the spinal cord.
Spinal cord injuries can have life-altering impacts. Like the brain, the spinal cord has only a limited capacity to heal. An injury often inflicts permanent disabilities in the form of paralysis and/or disruption of bodily functions. Many motorcycle accident victims who suffer an SCI spend the rest of their lives relying on mobility devices—but unfortunately, not their motorcycles—to get around and live independently. Injured individuals also may face enormous lifetime costs that routinely run into the millions of dollars.
Road rash injury happens when riders wreck and take a long slide on the road surface. The friction wears away their clothing first, then their outer layer of skin, and then the tissue beneath it. Such an incident often results in a nasty, open wound filled with road grime that doctors often have to treat like a third-degree burn. Road rash victims face severe infection risks from all the dirt and gunk that gets embedded in their wounds and may need multiple skin grafts or reconstructive surgeries to repair the damage. Even then, road rash usually leaves bikers with a discolored scar that some call a “traumatic tattoo”.
If you frequently read our blog (and we sure hope you do!), then you know that road rash constantly menaces Houston bikers. Many of the city’s worst motorcycle accidents happen on highways, at highway speeds that prolong a biker’s slide on the rough pavement. In the hot, muggy days of Houston’s summer, local riders also may choose to forego protective gear in favor of the comfort of short sleeves, exposing their skin to the worst of a slide.
Breaks, Dislocations, Tears, Sprains, Strains, and So On
If you get into a bike wreck in Houston at anything other than a snail’s pace, you face a high risk of getting seriously banged up. As we mentioned above, about 85% of motorcycle accidents in Houston end in the biker getting injured. At a minimum, those injuries usually consist of the kind of trauma that can heal over time with proper medical care, but that can cause serious pain and inconvenience in the meantime. We’re talking about broken wrists and ankles, cracked vertebrae, dislocated shoulders and knees, torn ligaments, sprained neck and back muscles, and just about any other orthopedic-type injury you can imagine.
Some Houston motorcyclists try to walk off these injuries or to treat them as something that just comes with the territory when you ride. Big mistake. If your bones don’t knit right, or you don’t take care of a severe sprain or tear, you risk chronic pain and permanent disability. Back injuries, in particular, can turn your life into a waking nightmare, making it impossible to stand or sit upright for any length of time, let alone work an eight-hour day. Some riders who suffer these injuries turn to habit-forming pain meds, which opens up a whole other can of worms.
If you get hurt in a motorcycle accident in Houston (which is to say, if you get into a motorcycle accident in Houston), go to the doctor. Don’t try to tough it out. Even a seemingly minor injury can turn into a major headache if you let it go untreated. Plus, if you don’t go to the doctor, then most of the time you kiss your rights to compensation from the party at fault goodbye.
The Right Lawyer Can Help With Those Motorcycle Accident Injuries
Let’s be clear: the four categories of injuries we listed above don’t even begin to cover the full range of harm that you can suffer in a Houston motorcycle accident. Those merely constitute the four most common injuries that we see in our law practice.
No matter what kind of injury you suffered, you likely have a right to pursue compensation under Texas law if someone else’s dangerous conduct contributed to the cause of your Houston motorcycle crash.
By taking legal action as soon as possible with the help of a skilled motorcycle accident attorney, injured bikers can often secure payment for:
- Medical expenses related to treating their injuries.
- Other expenses they wouldn’t have had if it weren’t for the motorcycle wreck or their injuries.
- Lost wages and income due to the injury, such as when it keeps them out of work or leaves them disabled.
- Pain, suffering, and overall loss of quality of life because of the crash.
In some cases, motorcycle accident lawyers can also convince a Houston court to award crash victims punitive damages, which are extra payments from the at-fault party designed to punish extremely dangerous or intentional conduct that led to the crash.
Again, though, if you got hurt in a Houston bike wreck, you need to act now to protect your rights. Every day that passes can make it more difficult to get you the money you need. If you wait too long to consult with a lawyer and file a lawsuit, you might even lose your rights to payment from the at-fault parties altogether.
Don’t make that mistake. Instead, if you or a loved one suffered injuries in a Houston motorcycle accident, contact an experienced motorcycle accident injury lawyer as soon as possible for a free consultation to learn about your rights and options. You shouldn’t have to bear the burden of your injuries on your own, and the right lawyer can help you seek justice and compensation.
Since starting his firm in 1999, Stewart J. Guss has had the honor of representing clients from all over the world, helping them recover from even the most catastrophic injuries.
Today, thanks to a strong belief in those values of compassion, respect, and approachability, the firm has grown to employ over 120 legal professionals in numerous offices across 4 states, with nationwide reach.