One of the most common injuries sustained in auto accidents is a broken bone, also referred to as a fracture. Broken bones can lead to permanent loss of range of motion, mobility, or even paralysis, depending on the severity of the injury.Among car accident victims, broken arms, legs, collarbone, and spinal cord are commonly seen fractures.
Broken Legs: There are three bones in your leg. The femur, or thighbone, is the strongest bone in the body. A great deal of force is required to fracture the femur. Fractured femurs can be the result of very serious auto accidents. The But tibia, or shinbone, is the major weight-bearing bone in your lower leg. The bone that runs alongside your tibia below your knee is the fibula. All three of these bones are subject to fracture in an auto accident.
Broken Arms: A broken arm refers to a fracture in one or more of the three bones in the arm: the ulna (the longer forearm bone), radius (the shorter bone of the forearm) and humerus (the bone that runs from shoulder to elbow). A fracture to the elbow will involve a break to a part of any of these three bones where they work together to extend the elbow joint.
Broken Collarbone Injuries to the head and neck, such as whiplash, are commonly seen in auto accidents. The collarbone connects the upper part of the breastbone to the shoulder blade. The collarbone doesn't harden completely until about age 20. Children and teenagers who experience a car accident will be at higher risk of a broken collarbone.
Spinal Cord Injuries Spinal cord injuries can be incredibly serious in auto accidents. The spine is comprised of small, irregular shaped bones called vertebrae. Damage to the spinal cord can result in permanent changes in strength, sensation and other body functions below the site of the injury. A spinal cord injury is "complete" if almost all feeling and the ability to control movement are lost below the injury. An injury is "incomplete" if the victim has some motor or sensory function below the affected area.
Diagnosing a Broken Bone
One of the most common methods of diagnosing a broken bone is an X-ray. During an X-ray, beams of radiation pass through your body and are absorbed in different amounts depending on the density of the material they pass through. Bone, due to its density, will appear as white on an X-ray, allowing medical professionals to view and diagnose fractures. Some types of X-ray tests require that a contrast medium such as iodine or barium is introduced into the body in order to provide greater image detail.
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) is an imaging process that uses a magnetic field and radio waves to formulate images of the organs and tissues. An MRI is commonly used following an auto accident to diagnose injuries to the spinal cord, as well as to determine if any organ or tissue damage has occurred.
Treatment for Broken Bones
Splints are comprised of a piece of hard material that's held in place with an elastic bandage or Velcro straps, with a cotton layer inside. Splints are used for newly broken bones when the area around the injury remains swollen, as well as for minor fractures. Using a splint on a fresh injury can ensure that circulation remains intact. Once the swelling has gone down, a splint may be replaced with a cast. However, for some breaks (such as a broken elbow) where mobility is a concern, or for a very minor break, a splint might be the only treatment required for the fracture.
Casts are comprised of a soft inner layer and a hard outer layer. This outer layer is typically made of either plaster of paris, a heavy powder mixed with water which forms a thick paste that hardens quickly, or fiberglass, a moldable plastic that is lighter than plaster. More sophisticated casts may be used on body parts with joints that present issues with mobility, such as the feet. Depending on the severity of the injury, your doctor will determine the length of time your injury must remain in a cast.
In the case of very serious or complex fractures, surgery might be required. The nature of the surgery will depend on the area of the body where the fracture has occurred. Some injuries require the insertion of medical devices such as plates or screws. Some of these might be permanent, while others will require a subsequent surgery to remove the device. Surgical intervention following a broken bone will generally lengthen recovery time, and cal be followed by a subsequent cast or splint.
In the case of many moderate to severe fractures, physical therapy might be necessary. The period of time a limb is placed in a cast will result in additional issues with mobility when the cast is removed. The severity of these issues can depend upon the seriousness of the injury and the amount of time the cast was on. Physical therapy might be required for a patient to regain range of motion and strength in the affected area. In the case of serious fracture injuries, physical therapy might be required for weeks or months.
Compensation for Treatment Costs
If you have suffered a broken bone as the result of an auto accident, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical treatment. By pursuing a personal injury claim, you can seek damages not only for direct medical expenses (things such as hospitalization, doctor visits, and physical therapy/ongoing treatment costs) but also ancillary expenses (things such as equipment for bath with a cast) as well as lost wages for periods of time you were unable to work due to your injuries and/or subsequent treatment.
Denver Car Accident Victim Attorney
At the Law Firm of Jeremy Rosenthal, we understand how frustrating and painful broken bones can be and appreciate the significant physical and financial difficulties that can result. To begin the process of obtaining compensation for your injuries and the associated costs, contact us at 303.825.2223.