In a vehicle collision, the impact of one car hitting another generally stops the forward movement of the cars involved. The bodies of the occupants inside, however, continue to move forward at the speed the car was traveling until they strike a windshield, steering wheel, dashboard, or other hard surface inside the vehicle. This impact often results in broken bones.
Common car crash broken bone injuries include fractures to the:
- Arm/hand/wrist. The humerus, radius, or ulna (bones in the arm) might be broken when the crash victim uses hands and arms to protect the head and face.
- Leg. The femur, tibia, or fibula (leg bones) can break when knees and legs are jammed against or under the dashboard.
- Ankle. Bone fractures in the ankle often occur when parts of a car are crushed and trap the feet.
- Hip. Hard impact or just the tension of a seat belt can break a hip, especially if the victim is elderly.
- Collarbone. The clavicle is the bone most often broken in a car crash, especially among teens and children since the bone doesn’t harden completely until the age of 20.
The most common symptoms of broken bones include:
- A limb is numb/tingling and/or hard for you to move.
- A limb looks deformed, crooked, or out of place.
- There is bruising, tenderness, swelling, and/or extreme pain in the area of the broken bone.
Kinds of Breaks
Any of the bones listed above might be broken in one of several different ways, depending on the point of impact, the speed of the vehicle involved, the design of the vehicle’s interior, and the presence or absence of seat belts. While a seat belt protects you from hitting hard surfaces in the car, it can also cause breaks and other injuries in the hip/pelvis area upon hard impact. The various breaks you might sustain in a wreck are:
- Simple/closed. A common break under the skin.
- Avulsion. Ligaments and tendons are pulled away from the bone.
- Transverse. The bone breaks into two pieces forming a right angle.
- Oblique. The bone fractures diagonally, usually as a result of bones grinding together internally.
- Compound/open. A bone breaks and protrudes through the skin, making infection likely.
- Greenstick. A fractured bone bends but does not break into separate pieces.
- Comminuted. A bone shatters due to hard impact.
- Buckle. Children’s bones are strained or bent but not broken.
- Hairline. A bone develops a small crack that only an X-ray can reveal.
- Stress. One side of the bone is bent while the other is fractured.
- Segmental. One bone breaks in two places, leaving a piece of bone unattached.
- Impacted. A break results from two bones being jammed together.
- Spiral. A spiral-shaped crack surrounds the bone, usually as a result of twisting.
Semi-truck and rollover accidents generally cause the most serious bone breakage.
Treating Bone Injuries
Some methods of treating car crash bone injuries are:
- External fixation. This is a surgery in which metal pins connected to an external bar hold the bones in a position that allows them to heal over time.
- Traction. Bones are slowly pulled into the right position and held there steadily by ropes, pulleys, and weights.
- Cast/boot. A fiberglass/plaster cast or an orthopedic boot holds the bone in place while it heals.
- Internal fixation/open reduction surgery. Pieces of a badly broken or shattered bone are reconstructed and held in place by rods or screws while the bone heals.
Bone injuries can take weeks or even months to heal. During this time, the victim’s movement of the body part with the broken bone should be minimal. Lack of movement can lead to muscle atrophy and loss of strength/flexibility, in which case physical therapy might be necessary for a full recovery after the bone break heals.
The Need for an Attorney
If you’ve broken bones in a car crash caused by someone else, the at-fault driver’s insurance company is liable for your medical bills, property damage, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Your insurance claim, however, could be an expensive one because:
- Bone injuries often require surgery, physical therapy, and other costly treatment.
- Your recovery time could be long and your wage loss significant.
- Your bones might not heal completely, in which case you could be disabled.
- Your pain and suffering could be extreme.
Expensive claims are often denied by an insurer in an attempt to save money. In such a case, an experienced car accident lawyer can fight to get fair compensation for your damages while you focus on your recovery. Contact us online or call us at 605-306-4100 to schedule a free consultation. You pay no attorney fees until we win your case.