How Does Bone Injury Affect Accident Recovery?
A bone injury is one of the most painful. Car accident, motorcycle accident, or workplace mishap. No matter the accident, victims may be unable to use a limb for an extended period of time. Sometimes bone injuries result in amputations. This ultimately results in lost wages and even possible job loss. Dealing with bone injuries, breaks, and fractures poses a period of extensive medical recovery. For victims to receive sufficient compensation for their injuries, we’ll explain the types of bone injuries that occur as a result of accidents. Certain injuries may require a longer recovery period, thus extending a victim’s pain and suffering indefinitely.
This Shaked Law Resource article will explain the seriousness of bone injuries. We’ll answer questions many victims ask their lawyer after becoming involved in accidents that result in broken bones. Furthermore, we’ll cover what a victim must do on the legal side after an accident involving broken bones.
How is a bone injury treated?
- What are the types of serious bone injury?
- What are the causes of bone fractures?
- Why do some injuries require reductions?
- How do doctors diagnose bone injury?
- What is the legal side of fracture injury?
What are the types of serious bone injury?
There are several types of bone fractures that occur due to a wide array of accidents. Below, we’ll explain the nature of each one.
What are common bone fractures?
Greenstick fracture. These fractures are typically incomplete, and become worse when the victim is unaware of their injury. The broken bone in these injuries is not completely separated, therefore, placing pressure on the injury can cause extreme pain and further exacerbate internal injury.
Transverse fracture. In these injuries, the bone breaks “cleanly”. This means there is no shattering of bone. These injuries normally occur due to workplace accidents. Mishandling of equipment by inadequately trained employees may result in construction site accidents. Transverse fractures sometimes require surgical screws (“lag screws”) inside the bone to restore use of the limb.
Spiral fracture. These injuries are excruciating due to the nature of how they occur. In spiral fracture injuries, the bone twists in such a way that it “spirals” upon breaking. Car accidents in which the victim becomes trapped may result in this level of injury.
Oblique fracture. Bone injuries resulting in oblique fractures appear on X-ray as a clear diagonal break. These injuries normally occur due to falls in which the bone takes most of the impact. During a fall, a victim may place their arms out in front of their body to prevent their face from hitting the ground. When the hands make impact with the ground, a diagonal break in the bone occurs.
What are more complex fractures?
Compression fracture. Accidents that result in compression fractures are normally due to “crush” injuries. These injuries occur when a victim is unable to get up quickly, resulting in a heavy object falling on them. These fractures can happen anywhere, typically workplace accidents after use of heavy machinery. Another case of compression fracture may occur in catastrophic car accidents in which “the jaws of life” are necessary to remove the victim from the vehicle safely.
Comminuted fracture. When an accident results in a comminuted fracture, the affected bone appears in three or more pieces on imaging studies. These fractures require extensive surgery and usually have a lengthy recovery. A victim who suffers a comminuted fracture may be unable to walk for months. This results in lost wages and sometimes job loss. If the injury is too extensive for the victim to return to their previous work, damages awarded during trial will reflect this hardship.
Segmental fracture. This is a complex type of fracture in which one bone has broken in several places. Orthopedic surgeons can visualize this type of injury on an X-ray as a segment of “floating” bone. These injuries are the cause of direct trauma. When the bone, specifically the tibia, makes contact with a blunt object, it causes the bone to break above and below the area of impact.
Why do some injuries require reduction surgery?
An important aspect of a victim recovering from a bone injury is whether or not they require a reduction. Furthermore, if a reduction is necessary, what type of reduction technique?
There are two types of reductions: open and closed reductions.
First of all, a reduction is a surgical procedure necessary to repair a fracture injury or severe dislocation. This type of surgery corrects bone alignment. Often, patients express concern that the term “reduction” means they will lose bone or limb length during surgery. However, thankfully, this is not the case. Reduction in bone fracture scenarios simply means the surgeon will put the injured bone back in its correct position.
Reduction surgery aids with proper healing. When a bone sustains injury severe enough to break or fracture it, it becomes displaced. Without a reduction surgery, these injuries can become permanently painful. When reduction surgery is necessary, it’s because a bone cannot heal properly without surgical intervention.
What’s the difference between open and closed reductions?
Open reduction. This type of surgery is when doctors expose the fragments of bone fracture to better dissect and assess the tissues. This can be momentarily painful for the patient. Understandably so, the medical team provides fast acting anesthesia to perform the procedure. It’s important for patients to ask their medical team any questions they may have prior to administration of medication.
Closed reduction. This type of surgical procedure manipulates the bone fragments without any exposure of bone, muscle, or tissue. This type of reduction is often preferential for dislocations.
How does post surgical healing affect recovery?
Following reduction procedures, bone, muscle, and soft tissue are held together by a cast. Traction, plates, or screws are necessary for extremely severe injuries in which bone splinters and requires open reduction to fully repair. Sometimes, an internal or external fixation device may be used to further hold a catastrophically fractured bone in place during the healing process.
Internal and external fixation devices are usually long, surgical steel plates or rods fixed to the injured bone by the aforementioned plates or screws. Depending on the injury, these devices can be inside the limb (internal), or outside (external).
What causes bone fracture?
Whether due to unforeseen accident, assault, or workplace injury, bone injuries occur when the bone makes contact with more force than it can absorb.
According to Stanford Health, “Bones are weakest when they are twisted. Breaks in bones can occur from falls, trauma, or as a result of a direct blow or kick to the body.”
How do doctors diagnose bone injury?
To accurately diagnose bone injury, orthopedic experts use diagnostic imaging. These tools are necessary to get a clear picture of the trauma. Not every broken bone requires surgical intervention. However, it’s important for doctors to see the fracture in order to accurately make this determination.
On the legal side, MRI, CT, and X-ray images are necessary Demonstrative Aids. Whether a case goes all the way to trial or settles during mediation, Demonstrative Aids are an important part of a Personal Injury case resulting from serious injuries. Throughout mediation, and during trial, a lawyer will refer to large boards and other tangible objects. These tools provide lawyer and client the “burden of proof” necessary to successfully recover maximum compensation.
What is the legal side of fracture injuries?
Aside from Demonstrative Aids, let’s look at the legal side of bone fracture injury.
These injuries are normally straightforward. This means there is a physical injury present for a Personal Injury lawyer to pursue compensation for. However, straightforward doesn’t mean the case is “open and shut”. Far from it. Depending on the type of fracture the victim sustains, the lawyer must account for pain and suffering in their claim. Fractures that heal well and the victim returns to work in a reasonable amount of time may not recover the same amount of compensation as a compression fracture in which the victim’s leg was completely crushed, resulting in extensive surgery or even amputation.
Pain and Suffering due to bone injury
There are some cases of extreme pain and suffering, such as injuries resulting in amputation. In these cases, a victim’s lawyer may recover further damages on their behalf. These are the cases that have a higher chance of going to trial. “Paper pusher” lawyers may try to settle an amputation case, but a Board Certified lawyer knows that sometimes going to trial is necessary. There are cases of injuries in which the victim’s limb will never fully recover. In these scenarios, it’s important for a lawyer to have years of experience in presenting the injuries adequately. The insurance companies do their best to reduce a victim’s pain and suffering to the bare minimum. This tactic is unfair, and only a lawyer with Board Certification can fight back and win.