People who get into car accidents in South Carolina frequently suffer broken bones, or fractures. Compared to injuries such as spinal cord injury or traumatic brain injury, a fracture may seem to be relatively mild type of harm. However, as our law firm has seen through the years, fractures frequently have a severe, negative impact on the lives of victims.
If you suffer a broken bone injury in a crash, you can experience a great deal of pain. Additionally, the injury may keep you out of work for a long period – especially if complications arise. You may be unable to carry out basic chores around the home like carrying a laundry basket or mowing the lawn, or you may be unable to enjoy activities like playing golf or throwing a football.
In short: A broken bone is no minor injury. For that reason, you should understand the injury and your legal rights when it comes to seeking compensation for it after a car accident.
Why Do Fractures Occur in Car Accidents?
Typically, people suffer fractures in crashes due to the force of impact that occurs when the car collides with another car or strikes a fixed object like a tree, light pole or guardrail. In other words, upon impact, a car going 45 mph suddenly stops – but your body keeps going. So, you may slam into the dashboard or windshield and suffer a facial or skull fracture, or you may break an arm, hand or wrist as you brace for the impact.
Fractures can also occur if you get thrown around inside the car, caught between objects or tossed from the vehicle, motorcycle or bicycle and hit the ground hard. In many car accidents, people suffer broken ribs from the pressure exerted on them by a seat belt or air bag, or because parts of their body get twisted in an awkward fashion.
What Are Common Types of Fractures in Auto Accidents?
You can fracture any bone in your body in car accident. It often depends on where you were sitting at the time of the crash or on the point of impact. We frequently work with clients who have suffered:
- Femur (thighbone) fractures
- Ankle fractures
- Hip or pelvis fractures
- Arm, hand and wrist fractures
- Sternum (breastbone) fractures
- Clavicle (collarbone) fractures
- Facial and skull fractures.
Some of the most serious fractures involve vertebrae in the neck or back. The traumatic blow which causes those types of fractures may also damage nerves in the spinal cord and, ultimately, result in paralysis.
The severity of the injury typically depends on the type of fracture. For example, a hairline fracture involves only a small or partial break. It may require minimal medical treatment. However, more severe types of fractures are:
- Compound (the bone breaks through the skin)
- Transverse (the bone breaks into two pieces)
- Comminuted (the bone shatters into three or more pieces)
- Displaced (the bone fragments on each side break and do not align)
- Avulsion (soft tissue such as a ligament detaches from the bone).
The seriousness of a fracture also depends on the person. If you are young and healthy, for instance, you may recover quickly from a broken bone. However, if you are older, a broken bone could be debilitating. A hip fracture, in particular, can carry life-threatening complications for elderly victims.
How Are Broken Bones Treated?
You should get immediate medical attention after an auto accident of any kind. This is especially true if you believe that you have suffered a broken bone. A doctor can examine you and order tests such as an X-ray or MRI in order to determine the severity and precise location of the fracture.
As the Mayo Clinic describes, treatment typically requires realignment of the bone, or “reduction.” In severe cases, the realignment may involve surgery and the insertion of plates, nails, screws or wires.
Once a bone is aligned, treatment turns to restricting movement of the bone so it “sets” properly. A doctor may put the bone in a sling, brace or cast to immobilize it. You may need to wear the device for several weeks or months.
Initially, you may also need to take medication to reduce inflammation and help you to cope with the pain, which can be intense at first. A doctor may also order you to come in for follow-up tests in order to make sure the bone is healing properly.
Depending on the type of fracture, you may need to undergo physical therapy sessions. These sessions usually involve stretching and exercises that help you to regain muscle strength, motion and flexibility. A doctor may restrict you from working or recommend that you perform only light duty until your rehabilitation is complete.
Can Fractures Lead to Complications?
For many people, a fracture may lead to additional health problems. For instance, the fracture may expose you to bacteria and cause an infection. If the bone does not align properly, then you may suffer from a deformity. You may continue to suffer from joint and muscle pain for months or years.
Serious complications can arise if a fracture restricts mobility. If you cannot walk because of a hip or pelvis fracture, for example, you could develop blood clots or bedsores. Additionally, the loss of muscle mass could expose you to the risk of a fall and additional injuries.
What Types of Damages Can You Recover for Broken Bone Injuries?
If someone else’s negligence caused you to suffer a fracture in an auto accident, you may be entitled to recover damages that include:
- Past and future medical expenses (including payment for emergency treatment of the broken bone, medication, assistive devices and rehabilitation)
- Lost wages (including compensation for time missed from work and any reduction in your future earning capacity due to a disability)
- Physical and emotional pain and suffering.
Get Help from an Experienced South Carolina Car Accident Attorney
At David Blackwell Law, we realize that a fracture is no minor injury. It can lead to expensive medical treatment and harm your ability to earn a living and enjoy life. We will explore all sources of compensation available to you, and we will treat you with the respect and compassion that you deserve during what may be one of the most difficult times in your life.
To learn more about how we can help you after you suffer a broken bone in a car accident, contact us today. We will provide a free consultation through our conveniently located offices in Lancaster and Indian Land.