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An accident is likely to propel a bicycle rider off of his or her bike, onto the concrete or asphalt roadway and cause him or her to slide. The bicyclist might even be dragged by a vehicle. Road surfaces are abrasive, and serious skin damage can result just from friction. That damage usually comes in the form of scrapes, and those scrapes, whether fresh or scars, are commonly referred to as road rash. Rocks, insects, motor oil and dirt are likely to enter the bicyclist’s body through the road rash wounds. The parts of a bicyclist’s body that are commonly affected by road rash include:

  • The hands, arms and shoulders
  • The outsides of the legs and thighs
  • The face, nose and chin

Characterizing such injuries as road rash fails to convey just how serious they can be. Road rash injuries are traumatic and painful. They’re typically categorized at three levels. Those are first, second and third-degree abrasions.


Although minor, first-degree road rash can be painful. The affected areas of the skin are reddish in color like a sunburn. There might even be some scrapes. Professional medical treatment might not be needed for first-degree road rash, but victims might want to be checked out by a doctor.


With second-degree road rash, the skin will be broken. That’s when foreign bodies can enter the wound. Emergency room treatment is warranted for purposes of flushing and removing any foreign objects to help prevent infection. Permanent scarring is unlikely. An antibiotic ointment might need to be applied to the wounds for a week to 10 days.


This is the most serious form of road rash. Skin, muscle and nerve damage can affect a person for life. Then there’s the emotional damage from scarring that must be confronted. A third-degree abrasion penetrates all layers of the skin. It might be so deep that muscle and bone are clearly visible. Due to contaminants on the roadway, infection is likely. That can lead to amputation or even death. Immediate treatment in an emergency room will be needed, and hospital admission is probably warranted. The likelihood of skin grafting and reconstructive surgery after emergency room care is high.

The Medical Expenses

When treating for road rash injuries, a victim should keep track of his or her medical expenses in order to help prove their damages. Those medical expenses typically consist of:

  • Emergency room visits
  • Doctor appointments
  • Surgical expenses
  • Hospitalization expenses
  • Diagnostic tests
  • Medications
  • Out-of-pocket expenses for items like alcohol and wound care dressings

Other Compensable Damages

Other damages that might be compensable for a bicyclist road rash injury victim include lost time from work, any permanent scarring and disfigurement or disability, pain and suffering and loss of a normal life in severe cases. Scarring alone can get in the way of job opportunities, relationships and a normal life, and that scarring can get worse if you don’t get the necessary care and treatment. Learning how to confront and deal with that scarring and disfigurement might require psychological care and counseling. Victims should be compensated for that too.

If you’ve suffered a serious road rash injury, you can expect a lengthy and painful recovery. Simple tasks that you perform every day like walking or picking up a child can result in terrible pain. When a motorist or a dangerous road condition caused your injuries, our objective is to maximize any compensation that you might receive.

Frequently Asked Questions

What if I have permanent scars from road rash after my bike accident?

The at-fault driver has to pay for all of your injuries which includes permanent disfigurement from road rash scarring. You are also entitled to pain and suffering for the injury and the treatment, as well as any pain and discomfort after the recovery is over.

How long do I have to file my road rash injury claim?

In California, the law gives the injured person who suffered a personal injury two years to file a claim from the date of the injury. A road rash might take some time to heal, and then it might be a while longer to determine if the scars and disfigurement are going to be permanent. However, if the claim isn’t filed within two years, the victim might lose their right to compensation.

Do I need an attorney to file a road rash claim?

A good attorney is going to be able to determine the amount of money it will take to compensate someone for a road rash injury. The insurance company is going to downplay your injuries and pain and suffering, but an experienced attorney will be able to help you get the right amount of compensation for your injuries.

Contact Bay Area Bicycle Law

Road rash can result in expensive medical treatment, pain and emotional trauma. You’ll want your injuries treated professionally and responsibly. You’ll want your California bicycle accident personal injury case treated effectively, efficiently and professionally too.

The attorneys at Bay Area Bicycle Law focus their practice on bicycle-related injuries. Years of advocacy for bicycle victims have seasoned our attorneys with the necessary skills, knowledge base and familiarity to handle bicycle accident cases to the utmost level of professional expertise. Since bicycle accident-related injuries present unique legal issues that oftentimes render them completely different from conventional auto accidents or accidents involving other types of vehicles, BABL’s collective expertise in bicycle cases is imperative in helping clients achieve the most favorable settlements possible.

We work with clients in San Francisco, Palo Alto, Berkeley, Oakland, Sacramento and all over Northern California. Contact us today for a free consultation after any bicycle accident.