Pedestrians injured in accidents with motor vehicles, motorcycle riders injured in such accidents, and individuals thrown from their vehicles during an accident can all suffer severe road rash injuries. While bike riders may accept road rash from minor collisions as part of the sport, people injured in auto accidents may suffer much more severe road rash, which can leave them with long-term injuries and suffering from severe financial stress due to mounting medical bills combined with lost income.
What Is Road Rash?
In an accident, road rash, also known as a friction burn, occurs when an involved individual’s skin scrapes across the pavement. Minor road rash can occur, for example, when someone trips and falls, scraping a knee or elbow on the pavement. Road rash injuries from more serious accidents, on the other hand, may strip significantly more of an injured individual’s skin away, leading to deeper scarring and longer-term symptoms.
Road rash often resembles burns. Like a burn, road rash injuries strip away the protective covering of the skin, which can make it easier for bacteria to enter the body. Road rash may also pose an additional potential complication for victims; often, debris and dirt from the road end up embedded in the wound, and without careful treatment, it can result in severe infection. In severe cases, road rash can also strip away the tissue and flesh beneath the skin and even strip muscle away from the bone.
Road rash often results in immense scarring. If it occurs around a joint, road rash can restrict movement, which can pose additional complications for victims. In addition, road rash can cause infections that may spread through the body, resulting in long-term consequences.
Road Rash and Syracuse Streets: How Does It Occur?
Around 25 percent of city roads in Syracuse are in fair condition, while another 22.76 percent of those roads received a poor classification. Poor roads may have rougher pavement, which can increase the severity of road rash as the victim’s skin drags across the pavement.
Road rash occurs most often in accidents with pedestrians and cyclists, including both motorcyclists and bicyclists. However, road rash can occur in any accident that results in a victim leaving the vehicle, especially if the collision force causes the victim to slide across the pavement for some time after the accident. The fair-to-poor condition of many Syracuse streets can contribute to the severity of those injuries, since rough pavement may worsen both accident risk and the odds of a serious collision.
Pedestrians can decrease accident risk—and their risk of suffering severe road rash—by avoiding the most dangerous intersections in Syracuse, including Buckley Road and Russell Avenue and North Salina Street and Bear Street. Some intersections provide convenient crossings for pedestrians. Unfortunately, drivers who fail to notice pedestrians may end up striking them, resulting in severe road rash and other injuries.
Treating Road Rash: What Patients May Face
Road rash generally requires serious medical intervention. Victims should always pursue medical attention if they believe that they have suffered other serious injuries or need assistance caring for their injuries properly.
Victims with road rash that covers a large percentage of their bodies, or that suffer deep injuries that result in a great deal of blood loss, may go into shock at the scene of the accident. Victims in shock may suffer from rapid heartbeat and shallow, rapid breathing. When patients go into shock, their organs often do not get enough oxygen. Shock can lead to death if not treated properly.
Washing or Cleaning the Wound
Cleaning the wound and removing any debris can make it easier for Syracuse doctors to treat their patients and decrease their risk of infection. Doctors at Upstate University Hospital, Crouse Hospital, or St. Joseph’s Hospital Center, or an urgent care center if you prefer to pursue treatment there, may start by irrigating the wound. In severe cases, doctors may need to use debridement techniques to remove dead skin from the wound and allow for new skin to grow back.
Keeping up With Treatment and Healing
Following severe road rash, patients must keep up with cleaning their wounds and changing dressings as instructed by the medical professionals providing treatment. Patients should seek medical treatment quickly if they note any signs of infection, including redness, swelling, or obvious heat around the injury. Pus and drainage, or a sudden increase in drainage from the wound, should also receive prompt medical attention.
In extreme cases, road rash may require skin grafts. Doctors may remove a layer of skin from another area of the body and graft it onto the injured area to help new skin heal over the wound. Unfortunately, skin grafts can fail relatively frequently, and patients may need to go through multiple procedures to properly treat their injuries.
Even minor cases of road rash can leave relatively significant scarring behind. Patients with more serious injuries often experience extreme scarring. When scarring occurs on the face, hands, or other highly visible areas of the body, it can cause psychological difficulty for many patients, who may struggle with the long-term impacts of changes to their appearance. In some cases, scar-minimizing treatments and creams can help reduce the look of scarring over time. Some patients may also choose to pursue plastic surgery to minimize the look of scarring as much as possible. Plastic surgery, however, can extend recovery time.
Sometimes, victims with extreme road rash may need to remain in the hospital long-term while healing begins. Road rash that covers a large portion of the body may substantially increase the risk of infection.
Can You Seek Compensation for Road Rash Injuries?
You suffered severe road rash as a result of another driver’s negligence. Can you seek compensation for those injuries? You may have the right to pursue compensation if the at-fault party’s negligence caused your accident.
Syracuse drivers, including motorcycle riders, must carry personal injury protection (PIP) insurance. This insurance kicks in any time you suffer serious injuries in an accident, regardless of who caused the accident. If the cost of treating your injuries does not exceed the coverage offered by your PIP policy, you may not need to file a claim against the other driver—but you may need a lawyer to help get your own PIP policy to pay you the benefits you deserve.
On the other hand, if you suffer injuries as a cyclist or pedestrian, you might not have PIP coverage to help pay for your injuries, which means you may need to seek compensation from the liable party’s insurance company. You may also need to turn to the other party’s insurance company for compensation if your medical costs exceed the amount of coverage provided by your policy, which may occur quickly if you have to undergo multiple skin grafts and procedures.
What to Do After an Accident Resulting in Road Rash
If you suffered road rash because of another party’s negligent actions, you can protect yourself, both medically and financially. Imagine, for example, a bike rider traveling down Syracuse streets on his bike. He may have just left Thornden Park or Onondaga park, or he might have used his bike to get a little extra exercise on the way to work. A vehicle passenger opens a door into the bike rider, causing him to careen onto the sidewalk. He scrapes a large percentage of his side as he tries to get the skid under control, resulting in severe road rash to the trunk of his body.
Likewise, suppose a pedestrian suffers a serious accident with a driver in a car. The pedestrian starts to cross the road at a crossing after waiting for the crosswalk light to turn green, but the driver fails to yield. The pedestrian ends up sliding across the pavement, resulting in serious road rash on his arms.
Now what? If this happens to you, make sure you take these steps, if possible, immediately after your accident, to protect your rights.
1. Contact the Syracuse police to report the accident.
If you suffer injuries in any accident due to the negligence of another party, whether a driver hits you on your bicycle or motorcycle or while you’re walking, always report the accident to the Syracuse police. Reporting the accident to the police provides you with a record of when the accident occurred and potentially who caused it.
Some drivers may try to talk you into not reporting an accident, especially if you suffered injuries as a pedestrian or cyclist. Syracuse also has some of the worst DWI rates in the state, which means many drunk drivers are on the road at any given time.
Drunk drivers may not want to accept liability for accidents that they cause, or they might want to avoid the potential consequences associated with drinking and driving, which the police would likely note in their report. Failure to report these accidents, however, may make it more difficult for you to prove who caused your accident and ultimately seek compensation for the full cost of your injuries.
2. Seek medical attention.
Even if you believe that you have suffered only minor road rash, you may want to have an experienced medical professional evaluate your injuries. Road rash has a high risk of infection, which can cause additional scarring or risk the infection traveling through your body and can result in illness or even sepsis and, ultimately, potentially death. By having your injuries cleaned out by a medical professional, you can reduce the risk that you will develop an infection.
Visiting a hospital or urgent care center will also provide clear evidence of exactly when a specific injury occurred. If you bike or ride a motorcycle regularly, you may experience road rash from other accidents, as well. If you fail to seek medical attention at the time of your accident, you may have a hard time proving exactly when a specific injury took place, which may make it harder for you to seek compensation for your injuries.
In addition, if you did not seek compensation after your road rash injury, and you later end up suffering serious complications, the liable party’s insurance company may try to claim that your negligent actions in failing to seek medical attention made your injuries more serious and that you do not deserve additional compensation for those complications.
3. Take photos of your injuries during each stage of healing.
At each stage of the healing process, you may need to photograph your injuries. You may want to take pictures of your injuries immediately after you suffer them, at the scene of the accident, and again after receiving medical treatment and getting patched up. You may also want to take photos of your injuries at each stage of the healing process: as you change your dressings, for example, and after any major medical procedures, including skin grafts, if necessary. If you suffer severe scarring, you may also want to photograph these injuries. These photos can serve as evidence of the severity of your injury and the suffering you have faced throughout your recovery.
4. Get in touch with a car accident lawyer as soon as possible.
As soon as possible after your accident, get in touch with an experienced Syracuse car accident attorney. An attorney can help you understand the true value of your case and make sure that you don’t accept a low-ball settlement offer. Not only that, an attorney can help you navigate complicated dealings with the liable party’s insurance company, which likely doesn’t want to pay for your injuries.
Did you suffer severe road rash in a Syracuse accident? Do not wait to get the help you need. Contact an experienced Syracuse attorney as soon after your accident as possible.
Mr. Finkelstein is the Managing Partner of Finkelstein & Partners, LLP. He has become a noted consumer activist through his representation of injured individuals against corporate wrongdoers and irresponsible parties.
An accomplished litigator, Mr. Finkelstein has represented Plaintiffs in wrongful death and catastrophic personal injury cases. He has successfully handled dozens of multi-million dollar cases.