Motorcycle Accident Leg Injury

It’s no secret that riding a motorcycle can be risky. Indeed, DMV and DOT statistics show that motorcyclists get in accidents more often that automobile operators—even though there are far more cars on the road than bikes.

And, unfortunately, motorcycle accidents are often more serious than car accidents. In fact, NHTSA data shows that up to 80% of motorcycle accidents result in injury or death. Motorcyclists are almost 30 times more likely to die and five times more likely to get injured in a crash than automobile passengers. But what types of injuries do motorcyclists suffer most? Injuries to the lower extremities. Motorcycle leg injuries are one of the most common types of damage suffered by riders and passengers in crashes (either involving automobiles or solo).

The Risk of Motorcycle Accident Leg Injury is Extremely High

The CDC conducted a study of emergency room crash data collected between 2001 and 2008 then collated that data by type of bodily injury (injury location). The study concluded that 30% of all non-fatal motorcycle injuries recorded over a specific period of time in The United States involve the rider’s (or passenger’s) lower extremities.

It might not surprise any longtime riders that your legs are one of the most vulnerable parts of your body when you ride. Not only do legs come into contact with hazards like the road surface, automobiles, and roadside obstacles at an alarming rate, riders often skimp on leg protection because it’s either a “hassle” to wear or they’re under the misguided impression that jeans are good enough to protect them.

But when experts dug into crash data a little deeper, they found that motorcycle accident leg injuries may be more prevalent than first suspected.

A 2008 NHTSA study found that lower-extremity injuries were the most common injuries sustained by motorcyclists treated in certain trauma centers around the country.

The areas most at risk for severe damage in a motorcycle accident were (listed by percent of the total):

  • Leg (28%)
  • Pelvis (18%)
  • Knee (15%)
  • Thigh (11%)
  • Ankle (10%)

A Motorcycle Accident Leg Injury Can Be Costly

A survey of hospital expenses incurred by riders who suffer motorcycle accident leg injuries here in The United States found that leg injuries were extremely costly.

Data collected back in 2008 showed that:

  • The estimated median hospital bill of a motorcyclist suffering a single simple leg injury was $20,745.
  • ​If that same patient suffered multiple injuries to the same leg or injuries to both legs, that bill jumped to $38,608.
  • ​Motorcyclists who suffered leg injuries in combination with other injuries were slammed with the largest hospital bill and paid an estimated median of $56,288.
  • Lost wages and future financial support

When you account for inflation, similar hospital bills today would cost the average motorcyclist $68,000 for a single hospital visit. When you get into overnight hospitalization, this number skyrockets!


If you’ve just been injured in a motorcycle accident in California and are wondering what you can expect to pay, that figure may be devastating. Sadly, 20% of motorcyclists whose injuries were tracked over the course of this study were not covered by health insurance or auto insurance.  That’s why being able to present an excellent case for motorcycle accident financial compensation to an insurance company or California court judge is so essential.

What Types of Motorcycle Leg Injuries are Most Common?

It’s not enough to understand that a motorcycle accident leg injury is a big risk whenever a person rides, it’s important to know what types of  a leg injury to expect as well.

Common Types of Motorcycle Leg Injuries

Road Rash

This is one of the most common types of injuries involved in any motorcycle crash. When flesh slides along the pavement, the pavement wins. Depending on the severity of the injury, road rash can range from being an annoyance to being life-threatening. Treatment may involve bandaging but could also require skin grafts and reconstructive surgeries.

Ankle Injury

Just 10% of motorcycle accident leg injuries are ankle injuries but they can be some of the most debilitating. With multiple large and small bones as well as soft tissue (ligaments and tendons) all joining at this delicate joint, any injury can be devastating.  In fact, 90% or more of these types of injuries involve a fracture of one (or more) of the bones in the ankle.

Thigh Injuries

The most common type of thigh injury emergency medical crews see resulting from motorcycle accidents are femur fractures. Up to 94% of all upper leg injuries are fractures of this large bone. While simple fractures of the femur may require nothing more than dealing with a cast for a few weeks, complex radial or crush fractures may result in:

  • Removal of bone splinters
  • Installation of pins and plates
  • Replacement of portions (or the entirety) of the femur with a metal or plastic component

In rare but extremely life-threatening incidents, a crushed femur bone from a motorcycle accident could sever the femoral artery that feeds fresh blood to the entire lower limb. A severed large artery can lead to death in a matter of seconds.

Knee Injury

Accounting for nearly 16% of all motorcycle leg injuries, knee injuries can be debilitating and even result in permanent mobility issues. Crushing of the tibia (the kneecap), damage to the heads of the long bones in the joint, or extreme soft tissue damage to the knee may require multiple surgeries, extensive physical therapy and rehabilitation, and possible replacement of the joint.

Foot Injuries

These types of injuries are not common in motorcycle crashes—possibly due in part to the use of heavy-duty boots by most motorcyclists. Representing just 10% of all lower limb motorcycle injuries, foot damage almost always involves fractures of the small bones in this extremity.


Fractures of the fibula and tibia (the two bones in the lower leg) account for nearly 95% of motorcycle leg injuries combined. These bones are much smaller and weaker than the femur and are subjected to more torque in crashes. Like femur fractures, tibia and fibula fractures may result in casts or they could result in the replacement of the bone.

Major Crush Injuries

3% of severe motorcycle leg injuries are “major crush” injuries, meaning that the lower extremity is mashed so badly that it’s required to be amputated in many cases. These types of injuries can occur when an automobile strikes a motorcyclist directly in the leg, when that automobile runs over a prone motorcyclist, or when the rider’s own bike is thrown on top of them.

How to Prevent Leg Motorcycle Leg Injuries

Obviously, the best way to prevent a motorcycle accident leg injury is to prevent a motorcycle accident in the first place. You can help do this by:

  • Riding safely
  • Wearing bright or reflective gear (to increase visibility)
  • Enrolling in a motorcycle defensive driving course
  • Obeying all traffic laws

But, unfortunately, even if you do all that, you may still be involved in a devastating crash. In fact, in California, the majority of motorcycle accidents involving automobiles are caused by the driver, not the rider.

However, there is something else you can do:  use protective gear.

An old scientific study from the mid-1980s shows that some motorcycle leg injuries could possibly be prevented through the use of crash bars. After following a relatively large group of motorcycle riders over the course of several years, the authors concluded that installing crash bars on a bike could reduce the risk of a motorcycle leg injury by over 50%.

In addition, wearing protective clothing such as riding armor and slide-rated pants can either prevent motorcycle leg injuries altogether or lessen the severity of any injury you might suffer.

Financial Compensation Can Help Victims Cope with Motorcycle Accident Leg Injuries

If you’ve suffered a severe leg injury in a motorcycle accident, an insurance settlement or court-mandated award may be the best (and sometimes only) way to get the financial support you need from at-fault parties. As we’ve seen, motorcycle leg injuries can be extremely costly. Could you afford to pay $60,000 out of pocket?

Don’t let financial worries get in the way of your physical recovery. Get in touch with the experienced California motorcycle accident lawyers at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers today.​