The morning sun shines down as you ride the blacktop in Birmingham. The day is perfect. The feeling of freedom provides the perfect therapy.

Then an SUV runs a stop sign as you enter the intersection. In the process of trying to get out of the way, the SUV clips the motorcycle, putting it into a slide, giving you no choice but to go with it. The resulting injuries are painful.

Road rash

The term is familiar to most bikers. Road rash occurs when the force of the fall causes scrapes and abrasions, which can lead to infection, scarring, tissue damage and broken bones. Even though it is usually a nonfatal injury, the outcome of having an 400-pound motorcycle drag you along the ground several feet is excruciating.

Degrees of road rash

Road rash comes in three degrees – first, second and third. The severity may depend on the gear you were wearing, the force of the crash and the road surface.

  1. First degree. This affects the top layer of skin. You may walk away with a little bleeding and redness. If you decide you do not want medical attention, remember to treat the injury when you get home.
  2. Second degree. It is a bit more serious. Your muscles, tendons and nerves are at risk for exposure. In most cases, the skin breaks, and debris sticks in the wound. This type of road rash deserves medical treatment to flush the area of debris. There is a chance of scarring.
  3. Third degree. Third degree road rash is the worst. You may have broken bones, severe bleeding and exposure of muscles, nerves and tendons. Infections are likely to occur, and you may need immediate medical attention. Permanent scarring and disfigurement are likely.

No matter the severity of the accident, medical care may be necessary. Seeing a doctor may provide evidence should you want to file a claim or bring a suit against the other driver. A claim may help to pay your medical bills and other costs.