Motorcycle accident wrist injuries are one of the most common types of injuries suffered by motorcyclists during crashes and collisions with other vehicles. But not all motorcycle wrist injuries are the same. While some will heal on their own with minimal treatment, others may require extensive surgery or even multiple procedures to repair. Even some seemingly minor injuries can leave victims suffering from life-long disabilities, pain, and a dramatically altered lifestyle if not treated properly immediately after a crash.
Below is a list of some of the most common motorcycle accident wrist injuries, how to spot them, and the consequences you may face if they go untreated. At the end, you’ll find some resources you can use to ensure you’re fairly compensated for motorcycle wrist injuries caused by reckless, careless, or distracted drivers (including legal services that can help).
Different Types of Wrist Injuries Caused by Motorcycle Accidents
Statistics are hard to come by for actual motorcycle accidents but it’s estimated that up to 20% of all people injured while falling from a bike will suffer a wrist fracture.
Symptoms of a wrist fracture include:
- Pain (often severe)
- Wrist deformity (when the bones are knocked out of alignment)
- Numbness (often because the swelling has impinged upon the nerves and blood vessels that are funneled through the wrist)
If the fracture is mild enough, a doctor may simply immobilize your hand and arm to keep the bones aligned while they heal. If the fracture is serious, it may require extensive surgery or even multiple procedures including the use of pins, metal plates, and wires.
The one thing you should never do is ignore wrist pain after a motorcycle accident. Because there are so many nerves and blood vessels that pass through the wrist to the hand, the “wait and see” approach may leave you with permanent damage. Untreated wrist fractures have led to lifelong nerve damage and even the need for amputation.
The scaphoid bone is a tiny bone that sits at the base of your thumb. While not technically a part of the wrist mechanism, it’s an integral part of your musculoskeletal structure and if damaged could lead to permanent pain and disability if not treated immediately.
Symptoms of scaphoid fracture are often limited to wrist pain but the pain is often centralized at the base of the thumb. In addition, you may have difficulty (or be unable to) move your thumb at all.
Treatment for scaphoid fracture after a motorcycle accident often involves placing metal components (screws or wires) in the bone to keep it properly aligned during the healing process. Untreated scaphoid fractures may lead to tissue death (necrosis) and the need for bone grafts.
Confirming Wrist Fractures
Motorcycle wrist injuries are often not diagnosed immediately. Scaphoid fractures in particular are notoriously hard to spot with an X-Ray and often go unnoticed until the healing process has progressed for several weeks (which could be bad news).
If your initial X-Ray doesn’t reveal a fracture but you think there may be more to your wrist injury than a simple sprain, your doctor can do an MRI. The procedure is much more expensive but gives specialists a much more detailed picture of what’s going on inside your body.
If the results of both the X-Ray and MRI are inconclusive, you may need to undergo exploratory surgery so a surgeon can see with their own eyes the extent of your wrist injury.
Long-Term Consequences of Wrist and Scaphoid Fractures
If not treated properly, wrist injuries can lead to debilitating pain and may require individuals to wear wrist braces for the rest of their lives whenever they’re doing any sort of activity that puts stress on the joint. If you’re a professional motorcycle rider, that could end your career. If you’re a hobbyist, it could kill your ability to hit the open road.
One of the most common long-term complications associated with wrist injuries suffered in motorcycle accidents is arthritis. Injuries to any joint often cause deterioration of cartilage and abnormal growth in the joint. In addition, the trauma can cause chronic inflammation (arthritis).
Often this arthritis will become noticeable within several months to a couple years after the initial injury and—unfortunately—will only get worse from there. Within 10-15 years you may be suffering from severe pain, joint deformity, and loss of a significant range of motion.
Wrist Tendon and Ligament Tears, Strains, or Sprains
There are several soft tissue wrist injuries associated motorcycle accidents as well. When you think about your wrist and hand, it really is one of the most complex joints in your body with separate tendons and a cluster of individual muscles controlling the movement of your entire hand and each individual finger.
The most common treatment for mild to moderate tendon and ligament injuries is simply to temporarily immobilize the wrist and hand, then slowly working in physical therapy to ensure the joint doesn’t stiffen up enough to limit the range of motion.
Alternatively, if a tendon is torn or a ligament separated from the bone, surgery is required to reattach the tissue. In some extreme cases, tissue grafts or even tissue replacement is required in order to heal serious injuries.
Calculating the Cost Associated with a Motorcycle Wrist Injury
If the motorcycle accident you were involved in was caused by another individual, that individual, their insurance company, or even the company they work for (if a commercial vehicle was involved) may be held financially liable for your injuries. But when it comes to calculating the true cost associated with motorcycle accident wrist injuries, there’s more to it than just adding up your hospital bills. Indeed, there are several sizable components of an insurance claim or demand letter that have nothing to do with the actual medical costs.
Let’s break up the components of your potential claim so you can truly understand the impact your motorcycle accident has had on your life.
Primary Medical Expenses
The concrete medical expenses associated with your motorcycle accident may include:
- Ambulance ride
- ER Visits
- X-Rays or other diagnostic testing
Typically these expenses are incurred immediately after your accident.
Secondary Medical Expenses
These costs are often incurred in the weeks, months, or even years after your accident and may include:
- Physical therapy
- Additional surgical procedures
- Prescription medication
- Home use medical equipment (such as wrist braces)
- Lost Wages
If your motorcycle accident has left you unable to work, the liable party could be responsible for compensating you for the wages you would have earned had you been on the clock. In some cases, this may also include the cost of employer-provided benefits like health insurance.
Pain and Suffering
Perhaps one of the most difficult components of an insurance settlement to nail down is pain and suffering. While you should be fairly compensated for the physical and emotional toll that your motorcycle accident has caused, putting an actual dollar figure on that suffering can be difficult. However, expert testimony can help show:
- How pain affects your everyday life
- How emotional trauma has altered your daily routines
- How your suffering has affected your interpersonal relationships
Getting the Compensation You Deserve for Your Motorcycle Accident Wrist Injury
Sometimes it may feel like hiring a motorcycle accident attorney only complicates matters—especially when you’re only suffering from a relatively minor wrist injury. However, as you can see there are many components that make up fair compensation for your motorcycle accident injuries—some of which you may not have even known about. Having a professional legal advocate on your side ensures that you’re not getting bowled over by an aggressive insurance company and that you get treated fairly.
It doesn’t hurt to seek a professional’s opinion. Contact us today for a free, no-obligation consultation to see if you can benefit from the services of an experienced motorcycle accident attorney.