Individuals involved in accidents caused by another party’s negligence commonly end up with broken bones. These victims might sustain one or more fractures in various areas of the body as the result of car, truck, slip and fall, ranch, and other types of accidents. If you, your child, or another family member has suffered severe or catastrophic injuries—including broken bones—due to another party’s negligence, one of our Nebraska personal injury attorneys at the Robert Pahlke Law Group can help you seek compensation for losses that are directly related to your injuries.
Types of Bone Fractures
An accident may cause many types of fractures. According to Stanford Health Care, the following are seven of the most common types of bone fractures:
- Greenstick fracture. Children and infants are the most common population groups to sustain greenstick fractures, which occur when young, soft bones bend but don’t completely break. A greenstick fracture is one type of stress fracture, sometimes referred to as a hairline fracture. When stress fractures occur in older, adult bones, they are often the result of repeated use or overuse.
- Transverse fracture. Sometimes referred to as a simple break, a transverse fracture occurs when a bone breaks completely in a horizontal, straight line.
- Spiral fracture. A spiral fracture occurs when the break spirals around the bone after a twisting injury. Spiral fractures most often occur in the large bones of the leg, but also might occur in the large bones of the arm.
- Oblique fracture. Another type of common fracture, an oblique fracture occurs when a bone breaks diagonally. Oblique fractures are most common in large bones, such as the femur and tibia.
- Compression fracture. These fractures most often occur in the thoracic or lumbar region of the spine, but might also occur in other parts of the body. When a serious accident happens and there is too much pressure on the vertebrae in the back, those vertebrae may crack or break completely. Victims often sustain multiple compression fractures.
- Comminuted fracture. Catastrophic injuries that are the result of treacherous accidents and include high levels of force often cause one or more comminuted fractures. In these types of fractures, bones are crushed and broken into three or more pieces.
- Segmental fracture. These fractures have two relatively clean breaks in the same bone and result in a floating segment. Segmental fractures are less common than other types of fractures.
Complications Caused by Broken Bones
Sometimes, when someone’s negligence results in another individual’s broken bone, the victim is quick to settle with insurance companies, especially if the break was relatively simple and straightforward. Insurance companies are quick to offer low initial settlements to avoid paying out more later on in the process. However, not all fractures are simple, and even those that are might result in long-term complications.
If you sustained a broken bone as a result of someone else’s negligence, and you accept the insurance company’s initial settlement offer, you give up the right to seek compensation for the same injury in the future. If your injury was the result of someone else’s negligence, regardless of its severity, you should contact a personal injury attorney as soon as possible to discuss your eligibility for compensation. Your attorney will help you recover compensation for the full cost of your injuries. The American Association of Orthopedic Surgeons provides several examples of complications that might occur after a fracture, most of which are associated with some type of chronic pain, including:
- Infection. Bone infections are not particularly common, but in the case of an open fracture, the bone might be exposed to bacteria that cause an infection when it breaks the skin. These infections are different from those that might occur during surgery, and the symptoms may not appear for some time.
- Avascular necrosis. Also referred to as bone infarction, avascular necrosis is the death of bone tissue due to poor blood supply. Even after a successful surgery, bone tissue can still die. This condition is most common in broken legs, but might also occur in the arm, knee, shoulder, or ankle.
- Post-traumatic arthritis (PTOA). When accident victims suffer fractures in or near their joints, they are at risk for post-traumatic osteoarthritis, which can result in lifelong pain and disability. Pressure and stress on joints that might be damaged following an injury may lead to cartilage loss, bone growth, and changes in the soft tissue of the joint, resulting in PTOA.
- Malunion. This condition occurs when parts of a broken bone do not properly grow back together. While this might be a result of poor treatment, it sometimes occurs because those who have accidents don’t seek immediate medical treatment. After some time, the bone may start to fuse together and heal in an incorrect position.
- Nerve damage. In severe accidents, fractured bones may tear, crush, or bruise nerves. Torn nerves generally do not heal on their own and can result in permanent damage that may not respond to surgical repair. Those who break a hip often suffer from some type of sciatic nerve damage.
- Compartment syndrome. After a serious injury or fracture, swelling and bleeding often occur within a compartment, which can cause increased pressure on the capillaries, nerves, and soft tissue, disrupting blood flow and leading to damaged nerve and muscle cells. In acute cases of compartment syndrome, permanent disability and tissue death may occur.
- Loss of motion. Most breaks result in at least a temporary loss in range of motion, but in many cases, regular physical therapy and time for healing can restore an injured individual’s full range of motion. In some cases, including with some of the complications included in this list, complete range of motion may never return following a break. Broken femurs are a common example. Even when the injured individual gets immediate medical attention, and doctors do everything correctly, healing might result in one leg that is shorter than the other, which can cause lifelong problems with stability and walking.
- Complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS). Although a rare complication with fractures, CRPS can lead to permanent disability. This chronic pain condition usually affects a limb after injury and might also involve changes in skin color, temperature, and swelling in the injured area.
- Hardware irritation. Fractures with multiple breaks and in different parts of the body might require temporary screws and steel plates to reconstruct the bone or hold it in place while it heals. Sometimes people’s bodies react poorly to the hardware, resulting in irritation and/or infection.
What Should You Do if You Suspect a Fracture?
If you were in an accident, you may have elected not to seek immediate medical attention because you didn’t feel any acute pain at the time of the accident. If you haven’t been evaluated by a medical professional, you need to seek medical attention as soon as possible for a number of reasons.
First, your health should be a top priority, and only a doctor can be sure that you remain healthy following your accident. Even small stress fractures might result in long-term issues, especially if not treated immediately. If breaks start to heal in the wrong position, having them adjusted later might be painful.
Second, a favorable outcome in a personal injury lawsuit requires documentation that proves your accident caused your injuries. Whether you make an appointment with your regular doctor or visit your local emergency room, the physician that sees you will order X-rays and other appropriate scans to see the extent and location of your break. This process will provide documentation that makes it very hard for insurance companies, businesses, or other parties to contest the extent of your injuries.
Comparative Negligence in Nebraska
If someone else’s negligence or intentional harm caused you to sustain one or more bone fractures, you are likely eligible to seek compensation for the full cost of your injuries. However, you should expect any potentially liable parties to argue that you are partially or wholly at fault for your own injuries. Nebraska applies a modified comparative negligence rule to most personal injury cases, which means that a court will reduce any verdict by the percentage amount that it determines the claimant caused his or her own injuries.
For example, if the court determines that your damages amount to $1,000,000, but also finds that you are 25 percent responsible for your injuries, your damages award will be reduced to $750,000. Nebraska further modifies the comparative negligence rule with a 50 percent threshold. Under this modification, claimants who are over 50 percent responsible for their own injuries are barred from recovering any damages in a personal injury lawsuit.
Hire a Nebraska Personal Injury Attorney to Seek Compensation for Your Broken Bones
If your injuries were caused by the careless or reckless actions of another individual, he or she may be liable for your medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other losses and damages directly related to your injuries. The liable parties may also be responsible for future losses if you now suffer from a permanent disability as a result of your accident. Our experienced legal team at the Robert Pahlke Law Group can help you through this difficult time by investigating your accident and determining liability. We can help you build a case that seeks compensation for the full cost of your injuries, including physical and emotional losses.
We have represented Nebraskans in their personal injury claims and lawsuits for more than 30 years, and while we cannot guarantee a favorable result in your case, we would be proud to advocate for you and your family. Call the Robert Pahlke Law Group today at (308) 633-4444, or contact us online, to schedule your free consultation and to discuss the details of your accident with a member of our skilled legal team.