Body Disfigurement from a Motorcycle Accident: Legal Rights to Recovery

While most injuries from a motorcycle accident eventually heal, some leave lasting reminders of the accident. When disfiguring injuries are the result of someone else’s careless or reckless actions, victims can pursue compensation from the at-fault driver that addresses not only the financial and physical harm, but emotional harm related to their body disfigurement as well.

Traumatic Amputations in Motorcycle Accidents

One type of disfigurement that riders might suffer in a serious motorcycle crash is traumatic amputation. This can be the loss of an arm or leg. It typically happens when the body part has been crushed, such as underneath the bike or if it’s pinned by another object.

In a partial traumatic amputation, some of the soft tissue remains. Although it’s sometimes possible to reattach the limb, if the injury is severe a surgeon will have to remove it. It may or may not be possible to reattach a completely severed limb.

When a severed limb cannot be reattached, treatment could include a prosthesis. Some prostheses are purely aesthetic, in that they are only artificial replacements of the amputated part.

On the other hand, functional prostheses not only look more like the real thing but they can perform movements such as:

  • grasping;
  • typing;
  • pulling; and
  • pushing.

Third-Degree Burns from Motorcycle Crashes

Another type of disfiguring injury is a burn. Burns can be the result of a fiery crash, such as when gasoline spills and ignites. They can also be the result of severe road abrasion, also known as road rash. Burn victims may have an especially difficult time healing psychologically if the burns are on exposed portions of the body like the face, neck and arms.

A surgeon may perform a skin graft to remedy a burn. Generally healthy skin is removed from another part of the body, areas that are usually hidden by clothing, such as the buttocks. The surgeon then attaches the graft onto the burned area.

A split-thickness skin graft requires removal of the skin’s top two layers, the epidermis and the dermis. But in a full-thickness skin graft, the doctor is required to transplant not only those layers of skin but the blood supply and muscles as well.

Donor sites for a full-thickness skin graft typically come from the:

  • back;
  • abdomen; or
  • chest.


The type of skin graft performed depends on the severity of the injury and the amount of skin lost. Although skin grafts replace dead tissue and encourage growth of new skin, they can still lead to scarring. 

Cosmetic surgery may follow to reduce the prominent scars that oftentimes occur when the wound is extensive. It’s important to consider the pros and cons of undergoing this type of procedure. On the positive side, it can improve appearance and help facilitate greater self-confidence. It may strengthen one’s social skills and allow for more enjoyment of life.

On the negative side, there are risks to cosmetic surgery such as:

  • infection;
  • blood clots; and
  • nerve damage.


Another issue is that some patients might have unrealistic expectations about the outcome.

Coping with Disfigurement after a Motorcycle Accident

Victims who cannot hide their injuries may be especially troubled by their disfigurement.

Some of the effects that victims might experience (and for which they should seek professional help) include:

  • depression;
  • anxiety; and
  • post-traumatic stress disorder.


These emotional and mental disorders can significantly impact quality of life, causing embarrassment and preventing the patient from socializing or even working in some cases.

Because of the psychological/emotional concerns that can arise after a disfiguring injury, it’s important to address these issues if filing a claim against the party responsible for the motorcycle accident. Compensation could address emotional harm.

Keep in mind that – unlike drivers of passenger vehicles who choose limited or full tort insurance – motorcyclists are always considered full tort, meaning they can file for pain and suffering from the other driver’s liability insurance. Your lawyer can give you your options for recovering compensation for pain and suffering as well as lost wages, medical bills, assistive devices or modifications, and more. Talk to Cordisco & Saile about your specific case 215-642-2335.