A broken bone injury, also known as a fractured bone, is an extremely common outcome of a car accident, and can lead to serious complications. Common bone fractures resulting from car accidents involve the bones in the arms and legs, ribs, skull, hip, pelvis, and spine.
Many other types of accidents can result in a broken bone, including accidents involving heavy equipment, slip and fall accidents in stores, or even intentional physical assaults. If your injury was caused by another party’s negligence or other misconduct, they can be held liable for your injury.
Bone fractures are painful, and even minor fractures typically take several weeks to heal, and require special medical attention.
Types of Fractures
- In an incomplete fracture, a bone cracks, but does not break in two pieces.
- In a complete fracture, the bone does break all the way through. Complete fractures tend to be more serious than incomplete fractures, although incomplete fractures may become complete fractures if the proper medical care is not received.
- A non-displaced fracture is a type of complete fracture in which the bone is broken in two, but the pieces are lined up in the same positions that they would be in if the bone had not been broken.
- In a displaced fracture, the pieces of the bone are not aligned. Displaced fractures tend to be more serious than non-displaced fractures.
- In a closed fracture, the bone may have been seriously damaged, but the skin above the bone is intact.
- In an open or compound fracture, the broken bone has pierced the skin and is poking out of the body. Compound fractures are more serious than closed ones, due to the risk of infection.
- Sometimes the bone breaks into more than two pieces, or even in fragments. This is known as a comminuted fracture, and tends to be one of the more serious types.
Broken Bone Injury Symptoms
When a bone fracture occurs, in most cases it will be immediately obvious. Most fractures are extremely painful.
In addition to pain, you may notice bruising, swelling, or tenderness around the fracture, or the area may be crooked, deformed, or bent at an odd angle. If the fracture was a compound fracture, you may be able to see the broken bone itself. You may feel tired or weak, or even lose consciousness.
Not all broken bones are obvious, however, and it occasionally happens that a person misses a fracture for a long time. In the immediate aftermath of an accident, you can experience an adrenaline rush, which may hide the pain of the fracture. Sometimes, a fracture may be mistaken for a sprain.
If you think you may have fractured a bone, you should see your doctor right away. Immediate medical attention after a fracture increases your chances of optimal healing.
Broken Bone Injury Treatment
Sometimes treatments for bone fractures are quite extensive.
The broken bone must be immobilized while it heals. This may be accomplished by a splint, cast, or other such device. If the bone is displaced or at risk of displacement, surgery may be required to install plates or screws to hold it in place. After the bone has healed, this hardware may be removed.
During the early phase of the bone healing process, your doctor will also prescribe medications to manage pain.
Bone healing takes 6-12 weeks in most cases, and can take longer. However, you can speed the process by eating a healthy diet, avoiding tobacco and alcohol, and exercising when possible, so long as this does not put any pressure on the fracture itself.
After your cast or splint comes off, you may need physical therapy to strengthen the muscles and return the injured part of your body full mobility.
Sometimes, although fortunately not often, a fracture fails to heal. This is known as a nonunion. Nonunions can sometimes be fixed, but in a few cases, the fracture will never fully repair itself. This can happen to anyone, but the elderly are at much greater risk, as are smokers and people with certain medical conditions such as diabetes.
Even in cases where a bone does not fully heal, however, there are a variety of medical treatments that can reduce pain, increase mobility, and help the sufferer return, as much as possible, to normal.
Specific Bone Fractures
Certain types of bone fractures have other complications. If a skull fracture occurs, then the sufferer may also have a brain injury, which can lead to permanent cognitive impairment. Likewise, if a fracture of the spine occurs, it may cause a spinal cord injury, which may lead to partial or complete paralysis.
The hip is one of the body’s largest weight-bearing joints. It consists of two parts: a ball at the top of the thigh bone (femur) and the rounded socket in the pelvis. Ligaments hold the ball into the socket and provide stability to the joint.
A hip fracture is usually a break near the top of the thigh bone, where it angles into the hip socket. Depending on the age and health of the victim, it can take months of bed rest and immobility for the hip to heal completely. In some cases, the hip is so severely damaged that it must be replaced with an artificial hip.
Knee and Leg Injuries
The knee is the largest joint in the body, made up of the lower end of the thigh bone (femur), the upper end of the shinbone (tibia), and the kneecap (patella).
The knee also includes four major ligaments that connect the bones, control motion, stabilize the joint, and restrict abnormal movement. The meniscus is the cartilage in the knee that serves as a shock absorber and stabilizer. The medial collateral ligament (MCL) connects the thigh bone to the shinbone and helps to stabilize the inner side of the need. A blow to the outside of the knee may cause injury to the MCL that may be accompanied by a sharp pain on the inside of the knee. Other important ligaments in the knee are the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) and the posterior cruciate ligament (PCL).
Damages to any of these bones impede a person’s ability to walk and may create accessibility issues and lost wages.
Shoulder Blade, Collarbone and Arm Bones
The shoulder is the most mobile joint in the body, capable of a nearly 360-degree range of motion. However, the complex mechanics of the shoulder make it vulnerable to injury. The shoulder joint is made up of the clavicle (collarbone), the scapula (shoulder blade), and the humerus (upper-arm bone). The shoulder joint is a ball-and-socket joint that helps the shoulder move forward and backward and makes it possible for the arm to move in a circular motion and lift away from the body.
The elbow joint is where the upper-arm bone (humerus) meets the two bones of the lower arm (the ulna and radius). The elbow joint allows the arm to work like a door hinge as well as twist and rotate. The elbow is made up of several muscles, nerves, and tendons that connect the tissues between muscles and bones.
Arm injuries can be painful and inconvenient. They may also impede a person’s productivity and ability to work, depending on what the person does for a living.
When to Talk to a Lawyer About Your Broken Bone Injury
With the right treatment, most bone fractures have a very good prognosis. However, recovering from a bone fracture can be difficult, in the best of circumstances. They are particularly stressful added to dealing with other problems resulting from a motor vehicle accident.
If you were injured because of another party’s negligence, you have every right to expect that the negligent party’s insurance to pay damages for your injury. If you encounter any challenges regarding compensation, you need to speak to an experienced personal injury attorney immediately.
Call TorkLaw today at 888.845.9696 for a FREE consultation. We can take on the burden of dealing with your case so you can focus on healing. We will help you receive the maximum amount of compensation, so you can have the best treatment possible.