Road rash is the informal term used to describe an abrasion(s) on a person’s body after they come in contact with a road. Motorcyclists and bicyclists face the most risk of suffering road rash injuries when they are in an accident, and get thrown from their bikes; however, those who get ejected from their motor vehicle in a severe traffic accident or pedestrians who are thrown when struck by a motor vehicle might also suffer road rash injuries.
The aftermath of road rash can permanently alter a person’s life, depending on the severity. This guide provides a broad overview about the types of road rash, their associated symptoms, and common treatment options. We also cover parties who might be responsible for road rash injuries and under what circumstances you might be able to seek compensation when you or a loved one has sustained road rash injuries.
Road rash covers a broad range of injuries which might occur when a person’s body comes in contact with a road surface such as asphalt or gravel. As you dig deeper into your understanding of the injury, you will find two different types of road rash:
Much like burns, medical professionals evaluate the severity of road rash injuries and categorize them by degree. The degrees of injury from the least severe to most severe are:
A first-degree road rash injury is superficial, only scraping the top layer of skin. It’s similar to what happens when a child falls and skins a knee. Those who suffer first-degree road rash injury have a good chance their injury will heal completely within a few weeks and not leave a permanent scar. While it’s always in your best interest to get checked out by a medical professional, especially after another party causes an accident, those who suffer first-degree road rash typically do not need medical treatment.
The next degree of road rash injury differs from first-degree road rash because it breaks the epidermis, the top layer of skin. These wounds also typically heal on their own, and permanent scars are unlikely. Yet, when the skin is open it’s common for pieces of dirt, sand, gravel, and/or asphalt to plant themselves in the wound when the skin slides along a dirty road. When not properly cleaned, second-degree road rash can lead to severe, even deadly infections. Those who suffer second-degree road rash must remove, or better yet, have a medical professional remove visible pieces of stones and gravel, followed by a thorough cleaning of the wounded area with iodine, betadine, or saline to disinfect the area so it heals well.
The most severe road rash, third-degree road rash, often leaves scarring and permanent damage to victims. When the skin scrapes across the road, both the epidermis, and the dermis, which is the second layer of skin, peel away from the body. This leaves fat and muscle tissue exposed, and sometimes bone. Third-degree road rash requires immediate medical treatment, and will often include one or more skin grafts or reconstructive surgeries. It’s highly likely third-degree road rash will leave permanent damage and/or scarring.
If you choose not to seek immediate medical treatment after a first- or second-degree road rash injury, you need to watch for specific signs and symptoms of infection. If any of them occur, you must head to the doctor as soon as possible:
Even when motorcyclists, cyclists, and others at risk for a road rash injury, follow the rules of the road, they might be involved in a traffic collision because of another party’s negligence. Some things can help prevent road rash, or at least mitigate its damage, so the injuries might not cause permanent damage. They include:
Many different scenarios might cause an accident which leads to road rash injuries. Some examples of parties a Washington court might find liable for road rash injuries include:
Under Washington law, those who suffer a road rash injury in a traffic accident can seek compensation for damages from liable parties in civil court. Washington courts award punitive and compensatory damages. Punitive damages are rare and reserved for cases of willful harm or extreme negligence.
The vast majority of accident victims who receive compensation for their injuries, collect compensatory damages, which are meant to offset the financial and emotional costs of a severe accident and accompanying injuries. Compensatory damages you might receive in a settlement, or as a result of a verdict in your favor, include:
If you lost a loved one as a result of a road rash injury, you might be eligible to recover damages in a wrongful death lawsuit depending on your relationship with the deceased. In addition to some of those mentioned above, you might also recover funeral expenses and burial costs. Your attorney will advise you on the best course of action for you and your family.
When a motorcyclist suffers road rash injuries, it can devastate injured victims and their families. The emotional stress and financial challenges which accompany a severe injury can dwarf the physical pain and discomfort associated with road rash injuries. An empathetic legal team will understand the difficulties you might experience in the aftermath of a road rash injury. It can investigate your accident, handle communications and negotiations with the insurance company, and litigate your case when settlement isn’t an option.
If you or a loved one has suffered road rash in a motorcycle accident, bicycle accident, or other type of traffic accident, you deserve compensation when another party’s negligence caused you harm. Washington law entitles you to seek damages from the at-fault party, as long as you do so within the statute of limitations period which applies to your case. In most cases, you will have three years from the date of injury, but you need to consult with your attorney to be certain of which time limit applies to your case.