You might not think that broken bones constitute a severe injury. After all, over half of Americans will fracture a bone before turning 65. But depending on your age, health, and which bone you break, you could suffer from intense pain and disabilities.
As a result, you may incur substantial damages from a broken bone. You may require extensive medical treatment and physical therapy. You might miss work while you heal or even change jobs afterward.
Here is some information about broken bones and how you can seek compensation for them, depending on your situation.
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What Is the Anatomy of Your Skeleton?
Your skeleton consists of the calcified structures in your body. These structures include bones and teeth but exclude cartilage, tendons, and soft tissue in your joints.
Your skeleton gives structure to your body. It also provides leverage for your muscles to move your body.
Bones meet at joints. Joints typically include soft tissue to cushion and lubricate the joints. Without this soft tissue, the bones would grind against each other and wear away.
Your bones also play a vital role in your circulatory and immune systems. Your bone marrow sits inside your bones and connects to your circulatory system through small blood vessels. The bone marrow produces red and white blood cells and feeds them into your circulatory system to replace old, worn-out blood cells.
How Do Broken Bones Happen?
Bones break when they endure forces greater than their material strength can bear. This can happen from an impact on the bone. You might break a bone if an object falls on you in a workplace accident or when you hit the ground after a pedestrian accident.
Bending forces can also fracture bones. These forces can happen when your body part gets caught and twisted or bent.
Stress fractures can result from small, repeated forces that cause small cracks to form in your bones. Over time, these cracks can expand into fractures.
What Are the Types of Broken Bones?
Bones can fracture in several different ways, including the following.
In a non-displaced fracture, the broken ends of the bone remain aligned after the bone fractures. This type of fracture usually requires less-invasive treatment. Since the broken ends do not displace, the bone will likely heal after doctors can immobilize it with a cast or brace.
In a displaced fracture, the broken ends of the bone move after they fracture. As a result, the ends do not line up.
To treat a displaced fracture, doctors must move the ends back into alignment. Sometimes they can do this by manipulating the bone ends back into place. But in other cases, doctors operate so they can realign the bones and secure them in place with plates and screws.
After setting the bone, the doctor will immobilize it with a cast or brace until the bone heals.
A compound fracture involves a displaced fracture where the bone has moved so far that it punctures the skin. As a result, you have both a fractured bone and an open wound.
Treatment usually requires a doctor to operate to realign the bone. The doctor will also clean the open wound and close it before immobilizing the fracture.
Ligaments hold bones together. Tendons hold muscles to bone. When a tendon or ligament experiences stress, it can fracture the bone by pulling a chip off it. When a tendon or ligament breaks off a piece of bone, you have an avulsion fracture.
In most cases, doctors treat avulsion fractures by immobilizing the bone in a cast or brace. They rarely operate, although doctors will consider surgery to repair a severely damaged joint.
A comminuted fracture happens when a bone breaks into three or more parts. The non-medical term for a comminuted fracture is a shattered bone.
Doctors treat a comminuted fracture with surgery, and they either rebuild the bone with plates and screws or remove it. Doctors need to find all of the bone fragments to rebuild the bone, and if any fragments are too small or damaged to use, doctors can use a bone graft instead.
What Are Some Complications from Broken Bones?
Bone fractures can cause many related conditions. Some common complications from broken bones are discussed below.
Infections happen when bacteria enter the body through an open wound. When you suffer a compound fracture, you run a high risk of infection. Worse yet, the infection can enter your fractured bone, causing osteomyelitis. This bone infection can kill bone tissue and force doctors to amputate.
Compartment syndrome occurs when the tissue damaged by a bone fracture swells. The swelling squeezes blood vessels and cuts off circulation in the injured limb. Without emergency treatment, cells will die from lack of oxygen.
Broken bones can tear nerves as they displace. Doctors can repair or graft larger nerves to restore their connections. But the injury can also damage smaller nerves.
Peripheral nerve damage can cause:
- Loss of dexterity
- Loss of sensitivity to temperature or pressure
If you have undamaged nerves in the affected body part, the brain might remap those nerves to replace some of the lost functions.
After breaking a bone, the body forms a blood clot over the fracture. This blood clot protects the fracture from microorganisms and promotes healing.
If pieces of the blood clot break off, they can travel through the bloodstream and cause life-threatening conditions like:
- Pulmonary embolism
- Deep vein thrombosis
- Heart attack
Without emergency treatment, these conditions could kill you.
What Compensation Can I Seek for Broken Bones?
You may recover compensation for broken bones caused by someone else’s negligence by filing an insurance claim or personal injury lawsuit.
You could be entitled to economic damages, such as medical expenses, physical therapy costs, and travel expenses. You could also recover non-economic damages for your pain and suffering, mental anguish, and permanent impairments.
The amount of damages you receive will depend on many factors, including the severity of your impairment from your broken bone. This could depend on the location and type of fracture.
Broken bones can cause both short-term and long-term disabilities. As such, they can interfere with your ability to earn a living and participate in the activities you enjoy.
Contact a Harrisburg Personal Injury Lawyer for Help Recovering Compensation for a Broken Bone
If someone’s negligent actions caused your broken bone, you deserve to be compensated for your damages. To discuss the compensation you might receive, contact Marzzacco Niven & Associates to schedule a free consultation. We’ll investigate the cause of your accident and get you the maximum compensation you deserve.