A broken bone or fracture can be extremely painful for the victim. Most commonly people experiencing a broken bone or fracture complain of swelling and extreme tenderness. While these injuries can occur in a wide array of situation, they are most commonly associated with slip and fall accidents and auto accidents. After the initial medical treatment of setting and casting broken bones, you may find that additional medical care is needed such as surgery, pins or plates, and physical and occupational therapy. Joints that have been injured may be more susceptible to disabling arthritis. The cost of medical care for serious fractures over the long term can be far more than expected. If you accept an early settlement offer from the insurance company, you may end up with unpaid medical bills and no chance for full reimbursement of your losses and expenses.
A broken bone or fracture can result from:
- Auto accident (car, truck, motorcycle)
- Slip and Fall accident
- Boating accident
- Bicycle accident
- Medical Malpractice
Bones break when subjected to a larger force than they can withstand. The severity of the break or fracture can vary.
- A complete break refers to when the bone is cracked into two or more separate pieces.
- A fracture indicates the bone is cracked in one location.
- When a compound break occurs the broken bone breaks the skin.
Healing of a fracture takes place in numerous steps. For the first two to three weeks swelling and inflammation occur due to bleeding from the bone and surrounding tissue. For the following two to six weeks the new bone begins to form but cannot be seen on x-rays. Between 8 and 12 weeks post injury new bone has bridged the fracture and can be seen on xrays. At this point the body starts the final stage of healing called bone remodeling where any deformities that remain due the injury start to be corrected. This can last several years.
How well and how quickly a bone heals depends on many factors including age, health and location of fracture. In some cases a problem occurs during the healing process. Examples of fracture problems include:
- Compartment syndrome which occurs when severe swelling occurs so not enough blood gets to the muscles surrounding the fracture. The result is the muscles die causing long-term disability.
- Infection can occur if the fracture is an open one.
- Neurovascular injury happens when the fracture is severe enough to cause damage to nerves and arteries near the injury site.
- Growth abnormalities are observed when a growth plate in a child is fractured. Issues observed include a bone that stops growing too soon or one that grows at an abnormal angle.
- Premature arthritis is seen for fractures that extend into the joints.
- In some instances healing takes significantly longer than anticipated which is called delayed union. If the healed alignment is abnormal a malunion has occurred. If the fracture doesn’t heal in a reasonable about of time it is considered a nonunion.
The pain of a broken bone is severe. Often patients experience shock if they have a compound break. In some cases surgery is required to repair a broken bone or one that isn’t healing properly. Metal plates, screws or rods may need to be installed to secure the broken bone back in place. Following surgery physical therapy is required. Recovery can take weeks or even months. Medical bills can be significant and overwhelming.
Even for simple breaks that don’t require surgery the pain can be extreme. Swelling and tenderness are common complaints.
If you have suffered a broken bone because of the negligent, reckless or intentional conduct of someone else consider pursuing compensation for your medical bills, lost wages and pain. It is not wise to accept an early settlement offer from the insurance company as the long term impact of the injury may not be apparent yet. In addition the insurance company may not offer you the amount you are entitled to. With the help of an experienced personal injury attorney you will be more likely to receive the compensation you deserve.
A personal injury case often relies on the medical evidence of the injuries. With a broken or fractured bone the evidence is the x-ray which will clearly provide the extent of the injury. X-ray evidence is indisputable and therefore broken or fractured bone cases are typically strong.
The amount of damage needs to be thoroughly evaluated though. Medical bills and lost wages are generally easy to quantify but damages for pain and suffering can be harder to calculate. If the injury impacted a very active person who enjoyed athletic endeavors and now is partially disabled the damages will reflect the loss of quality of life due to the injury. Or if the injury means a future ability to earn wages has been diminished the damages should reflect that. On the other hand if a previous injury made the person more prone to future injury the damages may be lower.