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Skin Injuries and Scarring After a Bicycle Accident

Woman sitting on the ground with skinned knee after bicycle crash


The skin is the body’s biggest organ and one of its most complex. It contains sweat glands, blood cells, and just one square inch contains more than a thousand nerve endings. Skin has an amazing ability to heal itself, sometimes surprisingly quickly, but it also holds memories from traumatic events, like bicycle crashes.

Bike crash injuries vary, some affecting the brain and internal organs, while others make their mark on the surface.

The skin can be damaged in many ways in a bicycle accident. Road rash, which occurs when skin scrapes against pavement, is a common occurrence in cases that Bay Area Bicycle Law attorneys see. In severe cases, it can result in permanent skin damage. Open fractures, when a bone punctures the skin, will also leave behind visual evidence in the form of a scar. Any lacerations that require stitches may also result in scarring.

What is a Scar?

Scarring is part of the skin’s natural healing process, but not all scars are the same. Some scars are surface-level and resolve quickly or fade to being barely noticeable, while others can be prominent and last forever.

When skin tissue is damaged or breaks, the body produces collagen, which helps mend the injury, and sends more blood to the area. This combo helps build up tissue and strengthen the skin. This process may take several months and result in the tissue to appear raised.

Over time, the collagen breaks down and blood supply lessens. Most scars are permanent, but can fade for up to two years after the injury.

Types of Scars

Fine line scars: A small cut or wound might leave a raised line in the skin. These scars fade and flatten over time. They’re common after surgery.

Keloid scars: This happens when too much collagen is produced at the wound. Instead of fading when the wound heals, keloid scars keep growing. These scars are typically pink, red, or darker than the surrounding skin. They heal overtime.

Hypertrophic scars: Similar to keloid scars, these also result because of too much collagen in the skin. The difference is that these types of scars continue to thicken for up to six months before they begin fading.

Sunken scars: Also called pitted scars, these can be caused by skin conditions (like acne or chicken pox). An injury that causes a loss of underlying fat can also contribute to these scars.

Scar contractures: Often caused by burns, these scars occur when the skin tightens.

Road rash: Road rash can range from minor to severe and is usually categorized as a friction burn. While usually relatively minor and often doesn’t send victims to the hospital, scarring may occur in more serious cases.

Preventing Scarring After an Accident

Depending on the type of scar or skin injury, healing and treatment may vary.

“The appearance of a scar often depends on how well the wound heals,” the American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) says. “While scars from surgery or over joints like the knees and elbows are hard to avoid, scars caused by minor cuts and scrapes can become less noticeable by properly treating the wound at home.”

A few ways you may be able to prevent serious scarring include:

  • Keep the wound clean: Use gentle soap to remove debris and germs. This will help the skin do what it needs to do to heal.
  • Keep the wound moist: AAD recommends using petroleum jelly to prevent the wound from drying out, as a scab may increase healing time.
  • Change the bandage regularly: If you receive stitches, or have a more serious wound, it’s important to keep the bandage clean, so that bacteria doesn’t form around the wound.
  • Use sunscreen on the scar: Scars are sensitive, so use sun protection to help prevent further damage.

If scarring appears abnormal or the sight of the wound is infected, it’s best to consult a health care professional. Hitting the pavement during a bicycle accident can sometimes result in gravel or other debris getting caught in the wound, and this can cause infection.

Scarring and Personal Injury Cases

Just like other injuries in bicycle accidents, you can be compensated for scarring, but determining the value of the scar can be more difficult than it is with broken bones or traumatic brain injuries.

A variety of factors, from age and sex of the victim to where the scar is located and how prominent it is, may determine how much money a victim may be able to receive. Scarring on the face may hold a higher value, for example.

After effects of the scar, such as unsuccessful attempts to reduce the scar and reminders of the traumatic event that caused it, may also contribute to a case for compensation.

Talk to a Bicycle Accident Lawyer

If you’re unsure if the scarring left behind by your bicycle accident could be compensated, reach out to the Bay Area Bicycle Law team for a free consultation.

Our attorneys focus on one specialty: bike cases. This means that you will have the most accurate evaluation for your case and a trustworthy advocate who knows how to tackle insurance companies. Call (415) 466-3104 today to learn more.