Broken or fractured bones are very common traumatic injuries, and can be incredibly painful, depending on the type of fracture and its location. Depending on the severity of the break, reconstruction involving casts, bone screws, plates, and steel rods may be required, and the recovery time varies from case to case. In some instances, a person who suffers a bone fracture injury may need the assistance of crutches or a wheelchair, and physical therapy to regain full use of the injured part of their body.
A person may suffer a broken bone from a fall, a workplace incident, an assault, motor vehicle collision, or a number of other possible circumstances. If you’ve experienced a fractured bone, it’s important to be aware of your rights if someone else’s negligence caused your injury.
Types of Fractures and Treatments
Bones can be fractured or broken in a number of ways. Depending on which of the 206 bones in the adult human body is damaged and the angle of the damage, the recovery requirements vary greatly.
- Transverse fractures result from a force impacting the bone at a right angle.
- Oblique fractures slant along the long axis of the bone, and are typically the result of forces coming from any angle other than a direct right angle.
- Compound fractures are severe breaks in which the broken bone penetrates the skin.
- Greenstick fractures are common in children who do not have fully developed bones and occur along the side of the bone, and the bone does not completely break.
- Comminuted fractures describe bones being broken into several pieces.
- Stress fractures are hairline cracks in the bones and are a common result of repeated light impacts or repetitive motions.
- Spiral fractures result from a bone being twisted violently. These are severe fractures that often result from vehicle accidents or when a victim becomes ensnared by heavy machinery.
- Pathologic fractures result from diseases that weaken the bones, such as osteoporosis.
The location and severity of the break can cause other complications aside from the extreme pain that typically accompanies a bone fracture. A compound fracture is an open wound that requires immediate medical attention to reduce the risk of osteomyelitis – an infection within the bone. Tissues and blood vessels surrounding a compound fracture may also become damaged permanently. Pathologic fractures that result from conditions like osteoporosis weaken the skeletal system, and individuals with these diseases must exercise caution when engaging in everyday physical activities.
Proving Negligence and Suing for Damages
Anyone who experiences a fractured bone that may have resulted from the irresponsible actions of others should focus on healing first, but they shouldn’t forget that they have legal rights to sue a negligent party if they contributed to or caused their injury. In order to prove negligence, the victim must be able to establish three things:
- The defendant owed the victim a duty of care to act with reasonable safety. An example would be motorists having the duty of following traffic laws and driving at safe speeds.
- The defendant breached this duty by some action. With the motorist example, a breach may include speeding, running a stop sign or red light, or splitting a lane of traffic.
- This breach of duty caused the victim’s injuries.
If these three things are established, the victim can sue the offending party for damages, including medical expenses, the costs of ongoing treatments such as physical therapy, property damage that also resulted from the accident, and their pain and suffering. In broken bone cases that resulted from workplace accidents, workers’ compensation benefits may cover medical expenses and time lost from work, but they most likely won’t cover the costs of ongoing treatments or compensate the victim for their pain and suffering.
A competent legal professional will be able to guide you through a workers’ compensation claim process, but the amount you receive may not be enough to cover your losses. If unsafe working conditions cause your accident, your employer may be held accountable and considered negligent in their duty to provide a hazard-free workplace.
At Douglas, Haun & Heidemann, we believe that anyone who suffers a bone fracture injury in Springfield, Mo., and the surrounding areas deserves thorough legal representation and fair compensation for their injuries. Visit our website or get in touch with our team of experts to start reviewing a case or if you have any questions about broken bone injury law and the damages you may be able to claim.