Many accidents result in broken bones. Car accidents, workplace accidents, and slip and fall accidents that cause broken bones often result from another party’s negligence. When this occurs, the negligent party has a legal obligation to compensate the injured victim for all losses sustained as the result of the accident. A broken bone can cause many compensable losses beyond the medical bill required to treat it. The Clearwater personal injury attorneys at the Dolman Law Group can help identify all of your compensable losses in order to hold all negligent parties responsible for the injuries caused by negligent conduct.
Broken Bone Basics
A bone can be broken in many different ways. Sometimes an underlying medical condition (such as osteoporosis) is responsible for the break. In other cases, overuse or repetitive stress can result in a broken bone. However, the most common cause of broken bones is trauma. This is when a physical force (such as that incurred in a car accident or a fall) causes the bone to fracture.
A broken bone can present with many different symptoms. Some broken bones cause obvious deformity. If the bone breaks through the skin, it is called an open or compound fracture. But a closed fracture can be obvious as well. Swelling, bruising, and tenderness around the site of the injury can also be signs of a broken bone.
Treatment for a broken bone depends on the site of the injury and the position of the fracture (or fractures). The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons reports that many broken bones are treated by repositioning and immobilization in a fiberglass or plastic cast. This allows the bones to stay in place while they heal. In some cases, the bones can heal with only partial immobilization. In these circumstances, a patient may be allowed a "walking cast" or "functional cast," which allows for partial movement. Other fractures must be treated with traction. This method uses a gentle, steady pulling action to realign bones.
More serious fractures may require surgical intervention. External fixation uses metal pins or screws to stabilize the fracture. The screws are placed above and below the fracture, then connected to a metal bar outside the skin. The entire structure acts as a frame that holds the bones in place while they heal. This type of fixation can also be used internally. In this procedure, the site is opened to allow a surgeon to reposition the bone. Then, screws are inserted in order to hold the broken bones together. A rod can also be inserted through the shaft at the center of the bone. The surgical site is then closed with hardware remaining inside the patient. Again, the structure acts as a frame that holds the bones in place while they heal.
Potential Complications of Broken Bones
For many injury victims, a broken bone is only the start of their medical issues. Broken bones expose a patient to a wide range of potential complications. Science Daily reports on a study out of the University of Southampton that found that breaking a major bone in the body can increase a patient's risk for chronic pain throughout the body - even years after the bone is broken. For example, patients who had sustained a fracture of the spinal column were more than twice as likely to experience long-term, widespread pain throughout the body as a person who had never had a spinal fracture. This and other studies with similar findings suggest that the pain and suffering of a broken bone may not end when the cast is removed.
Specific types of fractures also present particular risks for complications. According to Healthline, a boxer's fracture is a finger broken near the knuckle or neck of the finger bone, known as the metacarpal. If this kind of fracture is not treated properly, it can result in the inability to grip, a permanently crooked finger, or a decreased range of motion. In some cases these complications are permanent. The permanent inability to fully use a finger as a result of someone else’s negligence is typically a compensable loss.
Certain medications can increase the risk of sustaining a bone fracture. ABC News reports that certain osteoporosis drugs, such as Fosamax, can increase a woman's chances of breaking a bone. This risk was in fact so great that the Food and Drug Administration required the manufacturer (Merck Pharmaceuticals) to include information about the risk of femur fractures in its patient information literature. After delaying for more than a year, Merck eventually did provide the information to consumers. The medication has also been linked to severe pain of the muscles and bones, as well as osteonecrosis, a serious bone disease that affects the jaw.
Many injury victims suffer complications long after broken bones have healed. Pain, decreased mobility, a limited range of motion, and other losses are very real side effects for many patients. A person whose negligence caused the broken bone has a legal obligation to compensate not only the medical expenses associated with a fracture but also the pain, suffering, and other side effects the victim experiences. Negligence can be found in cases involving auto accidents, workplace accidents, or slips and falls caused by unsafe conditions at businesses open to the public, such as grocery stores or theme parks.
Broken bones can cause a wide variety of compensable losses to a personal injury victim. The Dolman Law Group helps Clearwater residents and visitors who have suffered injuries in accidents, including broken bones. Our personal injury lawyers have several years of experience negotiating and litigating personal injury claims in and around the Clearwater area. Call us at (727) 451-6900 to schedule your free consultation. We fight to help victims injured because of someone else’s negligence recover full compensation for all of their losses.