When can broken bones become catastrophic injuries?

On Behalf of | May 7, 2024 | Catastrophic Personal Injuries

People hurt in car crashes often try to evaluate their injuries as soon as possible. They report their concerns to first responders and seek out medical care after leaving the scene of the wreck.

Most people recognize that brain injuries, spinal cord injuries and amputations could have catastrophic consequences for the injured party. Many other injuries may not seem as severe when compared with those life-altering medical challenges. However, injuries that can be mild to moderate can sometimes be worse in certain circumstances.

While broken bones frequently heal quickly and fully, sometimes fractures produce permanent medical symptoms. When can a broken bone potentially become a catastrophic injury?

When the bone breaks multiple times

The worst fractures possible involve bones breaking repeatedly due to extreme force. Spiral fractures which involve a twisting force applied to the bone are possible in a crash. Comminuted fractures are also possible, especially if someone suffers a crushing injury to their upper or lower extremities. The bone can break into many small pieces, and doctors may not be able to set the bone after the initial injury without surgical intervention. Fractures with multiple breaks often require implanted support devices and may permanently alter someone’s strength and range of motion.

When the bone pushes through the skin

A broken bone can be sharp, which might mean that it damages the surrounding tissue. The force of a car crash is enough to push a broken arm or bone leg through the musculature and skin. Open or compound fractures can cause nerve damage. A person with an open fracture could lose a large amount of blood, which might require hospitalization. They are also at elevated risk of an infection. Often, open fractures require surgery to clean and set them, followed by a lengthy recovery process.

When the body heals improperly

While the human body is capable of healing most fractures, not all broken bones heal cleanly. In some cases, fractures lead to damage to the nervous system. People can develop complex regional pain syndrome (CRPS) after a broken bone in rare cases. Their pain symptoms may continue to worsen long after the initial trauma heals. They may require regular medical treatment for the rest of their lives and could become unable to continue working in more severe cases.

Realizing that a broken bone might require a significant amount of compensation can help people handle the aftermath of a car crash. Those who evaluate their losses carefully can potentially pursue an appropriate amount of compensation given the consequences of a wreck.