A dirt bike is a type of off-highway vehicle in Arizona. It is a motorcycle specifically designed to ride off-road on rough terrain. It is a two-wheeled vehicle like a motorcycle, but it is not for use on paved roads. Instead, riders use dirt bikes for recreational and off-road riding. Dirt biking comes with a risk of serious accidents and injuries – especially on rocky terrain in Arizona. Arizona has recorded 268 fatalities related to all-terrain vehicles since 1982, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission. A dirt bike accident could inflict many types of injuries on victims.
The impact of the rider falling from the bike and striking the dirt or rocks could fracture bones. Commonly broken bones in dirt bike accidents are in the hands, arms and lower extremities. A broken bone could take weeks or months to heal. In that time, most patients must take time away from work and lose wages. A bone fracture in a sensitive place such as the skull or spinal cord could cause a more catastrophic injury. Common types of dirt bike accidents such as collisions, falls, jumping maneuvers, and running into limbs or rocks can cause bone fractures.
Spine and Back Injuries
The spinal column has delicate vertebrae and disks that could sustain serious damage in a dirt bike accident. A crash could fracture a vertebra, cause a painful back problem, injure the neck or sever the spinal cord. Even minor back and neck injuries can be temporary disabling or cause chronic pain. A severe spinal cord injury, however, could cause permanent loss of feeling and sensation (paralysis). Paraplegia refers to paralysis in the lower limbs, while quadriplegia is paralysis in all four limbs and the trunk of the body. Spinal cord injuries have no known cure.
Internal trauma is one of the most common dirt bike injuries. Almost 40% of nonfatal off-road vehicle injuries involve fractures or internal injuries, according to the latest available statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Internal trauma can include damage to the lungs, kidneys, liver and heart. Internal bleeding is a significant risk that could be fatal for a dirt bike accident victim. Head trauma can also be deadly.
Head and Brain Injuries
Riding a dirt bike, like riding a motorcycle, comes with a significant risk of head and brain injuries. The CDC reports almost half of off-road vehicle head and neck injuries involve trauma to the head. In Arizona, any dirt bike rider 17 or younger must wear a helmet under Arizona Revised Statute 28-964. The Department of Transportation strongly recommends wearing a helmet to older off-highway vehicle riders as well. Wearing a helmet could significantly decrease the odds of a rider suffering a serious head or brain injury in an accident. It could also decrease the risk of death.
Abrasions and Lacerations
Off-roading on a dirt bike comes with the risk of encountering objects such as tree branches, sharp rocks and rough terrain. Collisions with these objects could cause lacerations or skin abrasions, or road rash. Rocks and pebbles scraping the skin in an accident could cause road rash or traumatic tattooing – especially if the rider does not have on any protective wear, such as riding pants, a riding jersey, knee and hip pads, elbow guards, gloves, and riding boots.
Some dirt bike accidents in Arizona are fatal. Catastrophic accidents could put a rider at an extreme risk of injury, especially without a helmet or other protective gear. Reckless riders, defective dirt bikes and dangerous terrain could cause fatal dirt bike accidents in Arizona. Fatalities often stem from traumatic brain injuries, severe spinal cord injuries and internal trauma.
The CDC reports 70% of off-road vehicle accidents happen in natural settings, versus only 20% in motocross. Failing to take proper precautions or to ride a dirt bike safely in a natural setting could lead to a fatal accident. A fatality may qualify as wrongful death if someone could have prevented the accident.