Can a Person Die From Road Rash Injuries Caused by Motorcycle Accidents?

When the skin experiences intense friction, the cuts that result can be considered road rash. Road rash is one of the most dangerous injuries associated with motorcycle accidents. When a motorcyclist gets thrown from the motorcycle, tears in the skin can happen when they scrape the pavement. Some cases of road rash are mild and can heal with time. 

Unfortunately, road rash can lead to disfiguring permanent injuries or even death. Even when a motorcyclist is wearing the proper safety protection, including riding pants, the rider can suffer road rash when their body slides against the rough surface of the pavement.

Road Rash Can Become Fatal

Road rash refers to a type of abrasion caused by contact between a victim's skin and pavement. Abrasions can happen anytime a person's skin becomes rubbed away. In motorcycle accidents, a friction burn occurs when part of the victim's skin rubs off into the pavement. Very mild cases of road rash are sometimes called raspberries because they have a red appearance. In most cases, road rash is not life-threatening. However, there can be long-term repercussions from road rash. When road rash is not treated correctly, it can lead to all of the following:

  • Tetanus
  • Scarring
  • Infection
  • The immense loss of blood
  • Infection
  • Amputation
  • Disfigurement

Excessive blood loss can lead to death if the individual does not receive a blood transfusion. Emergency medical personnel sometimes do not arrive at the scene until several minutes or even 15 minutes or more have passed. If the road rash causes extensive bleeding, it is possible that the victim could end up passing away before they receive the treatment they need. Likewise, infections can be deadly. If the victim does not receive the correct treatment quickly after the accident, an infection can spread throughout the entire body and into the bloodstream. 

If the organs and brain become infected, the infection could become fatal. Even when a motorcyclist does receive treatment, there is always a risk of infection spreading. Road rash involves a large open wound on the body requiring a progressive healing process. The healing process should be closely supervised by a medical team with experience treating Road rashes and burns. 

Types of Motorcycle Road Rash

Severe road rash injuries are more common in the spring and summer because motorcyclists are less likely to wear protective clothing due to the heat. Their skin is more vulnerable to severe road rash without protective clothing. Anytime the skin makes contact with the ground in a motorcycle accident, a road rash can occur. The most common body parts that are affected by road rash include the following:

  • Elbows
  • Thighs
  • Knees
  • lower legs
  • Shoulders
  • Palms
  • Back
  • Face
  • Arms

Road rash typically falls into three different categories. In some cases, the victim will experience two or more types of road rash. An avulsion is the most common form of road rash, and it usually involves a forceful tearing away of the victim's skin. When the outer layer of the victim's skin is stripped away, avulsion road rash occurs.

Open Wound

When the abrasion is so severe that it creates an open wound, the victim needs immediate medical care to stop the bleeding. In an open wound, the victim is more likely to die due to blood loss if they are not treated immediately. The bleeding needs to be stopped, and the victim may need a blood transfusion. A risk of infection is also a significant danger when the victim experiences an open wound. To treat an open wound caused by road rash, the victim may require skin grafts, stitches, or even plastic surgery.


A collision can result in a part of the motorcyclist's body being trapped between two objects. This can cause compression and severely broken bone bruising. There are three degrees of road rash. First-degree road rash involves minor damage to the skin, second-degree involves abrasion that breaks the skin, and third-degree is the most dangerous because it causes damage to the underlying layer of the skin. 

Contact a Road Rash Attorney in South Carolina 

Regardless of what type of road rash a victim experiences in a motorcycle accident, they may be entitled to compensation for all of the medical costs associated with the treatment. Contact the experienced motorcycle accident attorneys at Arnold & Smith, PLLC, today to schedule your free initial consultation.

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