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Head Injuries Are a Major Cause of Death in Motorcycle Accidents

June 08, 2021

Passing the scene of a motorcycle accident on the highway is unsettling. Even if you don’t see any victims or significant damage to the bike, it’s hard not to imagine the worst — which, unfortunately, is often the reality.

Motorcycles only account for about 3% of motor vehicles on the road, yet their riders account for 17% of all traffic fatalities (including drivers and passengers). Motorcyclists are 26 times more likely to die in a traffic crash than people in cars. Even worse, more than 80% of motorcycle accidents result in serious injuries or the death of the biker.

In this post, we’ll discuss common head and brain injuries that occur in motorcycle crashes, how these accidents happen, and how to prevent them. We’ll also delve into Alabama helmet laws and how they reduce fatalities.

Head and Brain Injuries Following a Motorcycle Crash

Fatal motorcycle accident injuries can occur with any vital organ or tissue, but head injuries (commonly called traumatic brain injuries or TBIs) are the most common cause of death in motorcycle accidents.

Obviously, the worst head injuries after a motorcycle crash will kill a person immediately. Some head injuries, however, appear less serious than they actually are — at least at first.

If you or a loved one have been involved in a motorcycle crash and experienced head trauma, you should seek swift medical attention. Even mild symptoms could have major consequences. While the impacts of some head injuries are immediately apparent, others take days or even weeks to fully manifest.

Head injuries that involve bleeding or swelling in and around the brain can take time to cause visible symptoms, and by then, severe damage might already have been done. Depending on the severity of the damage and the affected part of the brain, untreated TBIs can cause permanent brain damage or even death.

Other common head injuries that can worsen over time and potentially lead to death include:

  • Skull fractures where pieces of bone penetrate the brain tissue
  • Hemorrhaging in or around the brain
  • Contusion/laceration (bruise or tear of brain tissue)
  • Cerebral oedema (fluid buildup around the brain)

A possible connection exists between brain injuries and degenerative brain disease. Research into whether severe TBIs can increase the risk of degenerative brain diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, is ongoing.

Not every biking-related TBI or head injury will result in death or even serious symptoms. Concussions are common brain injuries, and a motorcyclist might experience one and be completely fine after just a few days.

Still, because of the way motorcycle crashes tend to happen and the extreme vulnerability, the injuries are more likely to be significant.

If you or someone you love suffers a head injury during a motorcycle crash, watch for the following over the coming hours, days, and weeks:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Fatigue
  • Hypersensitivity to light and/or sound
  • Slurred speech
  • Disorientation/Confusion
  • Personality changes or mood swings
  • Loss of consciousness, especially for more than a few minutes
  • Pupil dilation
  • Seizures
  • Unusual sensations in extremities

Motorcyclists Are Especially Susceptible to Crashes

The vulnerability of motorcyclists and the risk of death from a head injury, even weeks after a crash occurs, can be scary for bikers and their loved ones. Understanding common causes of motorcycle accidents is the first step in preventing them and can also help a potential personal injury case.

Most motorcycle accidents are caused by human error. Speeding, distracted driving, and alcohol use are always dangerous no matter what vehicle you’re driving and should be avoided. In addition, motorcycle accidents often occur at intersections. This is because cars making left-hand sometimes can’t see a motorcycle approaching the intersection in opposing traffic and turn directly into them.

Due to their smaller size, motorcycles are frequently in other drivers’ blind spots, which makes them more likely to get hit during lane changes and merges. Lane splitting (or “white lining”), which is when a motorcyclist rides between two lanes of traffic headed in the same direction, is illegal in Alabama. This dangerous maneuver drastically increases the chances of being involved in a motorcycle accident, so pick a lane and stick with it.

Cars offer far more protection than motorcycles with features like seatbelts, airbags, protective frames, etc. This exposure makes bikers far more vulnerable to severe injuries in the event of an accident.

Not only that, but motorcycles operate far differently than traditional cars, which is what makes them so fun. Unfortunately, it’s also what makes them more dangerous. Two wheels just don’t handle road bumps, potholes, and debris as smoothly as four wheels do. And braking too quickly in adverse weather conditions can mean spinning out and losing control.

Visibility is another common issue. A motorcycle is significantly smaller than a car, SUV, or truck and there are far fewer of them on the road. Other drivers are less accustomed to their size and agility and might misjudge the biker’s speed or not see them at all.

Beyond following the rules of the road, including speed limits and sobriety, bikers can enhance motorcycle safety by:

  • Wearing protective gear, head to toe
  • Using bright colors in clothing and on the bike
  • Keeping up with mechanical maintenance
  • Performing safety checks on tires, mirrors, and brakes before every ride

RELATED: [Understand Your Rights After a Motorcycle Crash]

Motorcycle Helmets: Your Best Protection and the Law of the Land

Brass tacks: If you ride a motorcycle, you’re more likely to suffer a fatal head injury than people in the cars driving next to you. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), helmets reduce the risk of motorcycle crash death by 42%. One of the best things you can do to reduce that risk is to wear an appropriate motorcycle helmet.

Alabama’s universal helmet law states that:

  • All motorcycle riders, regardless of age, must wear a DOT-compliant helmet.
  • Helmet requirements apply to all motorized cycles, including low-power cycles and scooters.

Wearing a DOT-compliant helmet protects you, your family, and the wider motorcycling community by reducing fatalities and normalizing safety measures.

No Motorcyclist Deserves to Be Injured

No rider, helmeted or not, “deserves” to be injured, especially in a crash that wasn’t their fault. Negligent drivers should be held accountable when their recklessness injures or kills motorcyclists and their passengers.

Hiring an attorney and a law firm with a proven track record of success in motorcycle crash and head injury death cases is the best way forward. These specialized lawyers how to gather and analyze the facts of the case, depose the negligent driver and key witnesses, and advocate for you at every turn.

RELATED: [5 Questions to Ask When You Need to Hire the Best Motorcycle Accident Attorney]

Andy Citrin Will Defend Your Rights After a Motorcycle Crash

Andy Citrin Injury Attorneys has experience with all sorts of motorcycle accident cases, including those involving death from head and other fatal injuries.

We are honored to be a part of the story of people like Kenny. Kenny was a client of ours whose life was ultimately saved, though it was on the line after his motorcycle accident. He fought through a coma, paralysis, and more after being hit at an intersection by a left-turning driver.

The team at Andy Citrin secured the compensation Kenny deserved, helping him and his new bride start their lives without crushing financial worries.

Let us put our decades of experience to work for you and your family. For a free consultation call 251-888-8888 or complete this brief form.


Motor Vehicle Safety. (n.d.). Universal Motorcycle Helmet Laws. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved from Universal Motorcycle Helmet Laws | Motor Vehicle Safety | CDC Injury Center

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. (n.d.) The Anatomy of a Motorcycle Crash. Retrieved from

What is a major cause of death in motorcycle accidents? (2020, April 27). Augusta Free Press. Retrieved from What is a major cause of death in motorcycle accidents? (

Williams, Emma. (2021, January 26). Car vs. motorcycle accidents [latest stats and fatality rates]. Retrieved from: Alabama’s Distracted Driving Laws Don’t Work. Here’s How to Protect Yourself (

The content provided here is for informational purposes only and should not be construed as legal advice on any subject.


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