Motorcycle Head Injuries | 🏍️ Motorcycle Accident Head Injury Statistics & What to Do After a Crash

Posted on December 5, 2021 by bermanstaff

As a motorcyclist, you already know that riding comes with significant risks. Sadly, other drivers are one of the greatest threats. In a head on motorcycle crash, sideswipe accident, or intersection crash, the only protection you have is your helmet and riding gear.

More than 80% of motorcycle accident victims suffer injury or death. Riders frequently suffer road rash, broken bones, burns, and back injuries, but head injuries from motorcycle accidents are among the most serious injuries in a crash.

Traumatic brain injuries are common consequences of motorcycle accidents. If you have suffered a TBI, you may be facing months, years, or even a lifetime of side effects in addition to hospitalization, physical therapy, and even disability.

Motorcycle Accident Head Injury Statistics

Traffic accidents are one of the leading causes of traumatic brain injuries. While car accidents cause a larger number of TBI, the chances of a motorcycle accident resulting in a head injury are higher. These statistics show just how likely a motorcycle crash is to cause a life-changing head injury.

  • 25% of brain injury-related hospitalizations are the result of motor vehicle accidents.
  • Traffic accidents are the leading cause of TBI-related hospitalization, ER visits, and death for people 15 to 34 years old.
  • 17% of hospitalizations after a motorcycle accident involve a brain injury.
  • Motorcyclists who suffered brain injury from a motorcycle accident accounted for 54% of admitted riders who died.
  • Brain injuries are one of the top causes of death and disability, resulting in more disability than spinal cord injuries and multiple sclerosis.
  • Head injuries are one of the leading causes of death and serious injury in motorcycle accidents.
  • Motorcycles account for just 3% of registered vehicles and 0.6% of vehicle miles traveled. However, motorcycle accidents account for 14% of traffic fatalities, 17% of occupant deaths, and 3% of occupant injuries according to the National Safety Council.
  • There were 89,000 motorcycle accidents that caused injuries in 2017. In 2019, 5,014 motorcycle riders died in a motorcycle crash.
  • Motorcycle head injuries are involved in about 37% of all fatal motorcycle crashes.

What percentage of motorcycle accidents result in injury or death?

Over 80% of reported motorcycle accidents cause death or injury according to the NHTSA. Motorcyclists have a fatality rate that is 26x higher than passenger car occupants per mile traveled.

What percentage of motorcycle riders get in accidents?

The motorcyclist injury rate was 975 per 100,000 registered motorcycles in 2019. That means the percentage of motorcycle riders who crash is almost 1% per year – assuming all registered vehicles are on the road and no rider crashes more than once a year. Assuming many registered vehicles are not operational or otherwise go unused, the actual injury rate is likely even higher.

Types of Head Injuries from Motorcycle Accidents

Head injuries aren’t just one of the most common injuries from motorcycle accidents, they’re also one of the most dangerous with the potential for life-long consequences. Motorcycle accident victims can suffer brain injuries that are mild, moderate, or severe. Head injuries can also be classified as open or closed. Riders who are involved in an accident when they are not wearing a helmet are more likely to suffer an open head injury, or an injury in which the skull is fractured or penetrated.

Brain injuries in a crash are usually caused by either a blow to the head or sudden deceleration that causes the brain to strike the inside of the skull. Because motorcycle crash victims lack the protection of a car and are thrown from the bike in an accident, motorcycle accident injuries typically happen when the rider is struck directly by another vehicle or makes impact with the road or other hard surface.

Common head injuries from motorcycle accidents include:

  • Concussion. This type of motorcycle accident brain injury is a type of mild traumatic brain injury or TBI. It can happen even if you do not lose consciousness. Even a mild TBI can lead to serious consequences and long-term effects, a condition known as post-concussion syndrome.
  • Diffuse axonal injuries occur when connecting nerve fibers in the brain tear as the brain shifts or rotates in the skull. The microscopic damage can be difficult to diagnose, but it can have significant side effects.
  • Coup-contrecoup injuries occur when there is a blow to the head, such as striking the pavement, with enough force or change of momentum that the brain strikes the inside of the skull opposite the initial impact.
  • Hematoma or bleeding in the brain. Intracranial hematomas can form a blood clot in the brain tissue, between the dura mater and skull, or between the brain and dura mater.
  • Skull fractures can occur along with any type of brain injury.

Preventing Traumatic Brain Injury in a Motorcycle Accident – Do Motorcycle Helmets Prevent Concussions?

Wearing a helmet is one of the most important ways to prevent motorcycle head injuries. California law also requires riders and passengers to wear a Department of Transportation compliant helmet.

Multiple studies have confirmed that wearing an approved safety helmet reduces the risk of death and serious brain injuries from motorcycle accidents, but they can’t prevent all types of brain injuries.

A helmet works by absorbing most of the impact energy in a crash and minimizing blunt force trauma to your skull. However, a helmet can’t prevent the brain from moving inside the skull. The brain floats in cerebrospinal fluid inside the skull but rapid acceleration or deceleration can cause the brain to strike the inside of the skull and cause injury, even without direct impact.

The most advanced type of safety helmet for riders uses Multi-directional Impact Protection System (MIPS) technology that is designed to better compensate for the rotational injury of a crash or fall. Developed in the 1990s and improved over the last decade, this system uses a liner inside the helmet that allows sliding action independent of the impact direction.

The MIPS system helps dissipate rotational force in a crash that would otherwise impact the brain. Over 27,000 tests have been done on the system over two decades showing a significant reduction in brain injuries.

Motorcycle Helmet vs No Helmet Statistics

Wearing a helmet can reduce the risk of a motorcycle accident head injury and reduce the severity of a brain injury.

  • 21% of unhelmeted motorcycle accident victims treated in a hospital suffered TBI versus 15% of helmeted motorcyclists. More than 8% of unhelmeted riders suffered a mild to moderate TBI and another 7.3% suffered a serious TBI compared to 7% and 4.7% of helmeted riders who suffered mild/moderate and severe TBI.
  • Unhelmeted riders are more likely to sustain a motorcycle accident brain injury than helmeted riders.
  • Not wearing a helmet doubles the risk of severe or critical head injuries from motorcycle accidents according to 2009 NHTSA data.
  • Motorcycle crash victims who were not wearing a helmet were 4x more likely to suffer head injuries and 10x more likely to suffer brain injuries than victims wearing helmets according to 2011 study.
  • Helmets are 29% effective at reducing fatal injuries and 67% effective at preventing serious brain injuries.

Contact Berman & Riedel, LLP, San Diego Motorcycle Accident Lawyers

After suffering a brain injury in a motorcycle accident, do not count on the insurance company to protect you. The more serious your symptoms and injuries and the higher the potential value of your case, the more the insurance company will invest in fighting your claim. Traumatic brain injury settlements can top $1 million, depending on the severity of the injury and the impact on your life. You may be offered a settlement soon after your accident that does not fully compensate you or consider the long-term effects your brain injury may have on your life.

At Berman & Riedel, LLP, a San Diego motorcycle accident lawyer is ready to protect your best interests and fight back against the insurance company’s tactics. We understand the full impact a brain injury can have on your life.

Contact Berman & Riedel, LLP today to discuss your case with a California motorcycle accident lawyer. Based in San Diego, we handle cases throughout California.


About Berman & Riedel, LLP firm managing partner attorney William M. Berman:

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Attorney William M. Berman focuses his practice in the areas of catastrophic personal injury, wrongful death and elder abuse and neglect. Strictly a plaintiffs’ dedicated firm, he never represents insurance companies in the defense of claims. Mr. Berman’s firm remains staunchly committed to helping those who have suffered serious injury or loss due the negligence, intentional misconduct or wrongful acts of others. Mr. Berman has grown his firm to what is considered one of the largest and most successful elder abuse/neglect practices within California. Through his continued successes in handling claims involving nursing home and elder abuse and neglect, Mr. Berman remains a prominent figure in advocating on behalf of this vulnerable class of citizens.
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Below are answers to common questions people have about personal injury cases and working with a lawyer. During your initial consultation, we will be happy to answer questions that are particular to your case.

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Some damages are easy to calculate, such as lost wages and medical bills. Calculating the value of diminished earnings for the rest of your life or future medical needs; however, may require the help of experts. Non-economic damages like pain and suffering have no intrinsic financial value. These damages are challenging to calculate. 

If your case goes before a jury, you may potentially be able to recover more than you could through a settlement. However, this introduces a new element of risk: the jury. The circumstances of your accident and even how sympathetic you or the defendant are can influence the outcome.

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