Broken bone injuries are most commonly caused by falls, trampoline accidents, repetitive motions, violent assaults, and car accidents, with thousands of Americans suffering from these injuries every single year. Doctors usually categorize specific types of bone fractures based on the pattern of the break, the cause of the break, and where the break occurs in the body. Below, our San Antonio personal injury lawyers break down the most common broken bones in car accidents.
Broken bones can easily cause car accident victims to suffer thousands of dollars of debt due to the combination of medical costs and lost wages. The at-fault driver’s auto insurance policy can only cover so much of these damages, which is why many crash victims turn to civil lawsuits. San Antonio personal injury lawyers at Janicek Law have decades of combined experience in helping their clients recover the financial compensation they deserve for their car accident injuries. We can help you do the same. Call 210-366-4949 to schedule a free consultation today.
Bone Fracture vs. Broken Bone
Broken bones and bone fractures are the exact same thing. A bone fracture is the technical, medical diagnosis that doctors make when a bone breaks. The diagnosis will likely also include the specific type of fracture that the patient suffered as well.
Types of Broken Bones
There are several types of broken bone injuries, and doctors generally characterize them by the pattern of the break, the cause of the break, or where the fracture occurs in the body.
Listed below are the types of fractured bones that are characterized by a complete break.
- Longitudinal Fractures occur along the axis of the bone. In other words, the bone breaks right down the middle, starting from the top (or near the top) to the bottom.
- Transverse Fractures: A transverse fracture is sort of the opposite of a longitudinal fracture. Instead of the fracture extending from top to bottom, the fracture extends straight across the bone.
- Oblique Fractures: An oblique fracture occurs when the bone breaks at an angle instead of straight across.
Sometimes, bones break in a straight line. Other times, bones break in a jagged line. Below, we list the types of fractures that usually resemble jagged lines.
- Spiral Fractures: A spiral fracture usually occurs from a violent twisting motion. The resulting fracture may circle around the entire bone like a corkscrew, or the bone may be broken into multiple jagged pieces.
- Segmental Fractures occur when a bone breaks in two places, not just one. As a result, the patient will have a small segment of separated bone.
- Comminuted Fractures: A comminuted fracture is a bone that broke in two or more places. This is one of the more severe types of bone fractures that may require surgical repair and a lengthy healing process.
- Greenstick Fractures occur when the bone cracks. In other words, the bone doesn’t break into two or more pieces.
Doctors also diagnose fractures based on their causes. These types of fractures include:
- Buckle Fractures: A buckle fracture is also known as a torus fracture, and it occurs when one side of the bone bends and creates a “buckle.” The other side of the bone does not break.
- Avulsion Fractures: An avulsion fracture occurs when a small piece of bone, attached to a ligament or tendon, gets ripped away from the rest of the bone.
- Stress Fractures: A stress fracture (AKA a hairline fracture) is a tiny crack in the bone, most commonly caused by repetitive stress. Hairline fractures usually occur in the bones that carry the most body weight, such as the ankles and feet.
Lastly, doctors may classify your type of fracture based on whether or not you can see it through the skin. For example: open fractures – also known as compound fractures – are characterized by bone fragments that pierce through the skin. A compound fracture can come with serious complications like infections. Meanwhile, a closed fracture is one that doesn’t pierce through the skin.
What Causes a Broken Bone During a Car Accident?
One of the most common causes of broken bones are car wrecks. But how exactly do fractures from car accidents happen? Below, we list some common scenarios that often lead to fractures during a car accident.
- Hitting the steering wheel during head on collisions.
- Violent impacts from front or side airbags.
- Being ejected from a vehicle during a crash.
- Raising arms up in front of the face in order to block the blow from airbags.
- Crush injuries during a crash, such as being crushed inside the vehicle or being crushed by another vehicle like a large truck.
- The force of the seat belt holding a driver in place during an accident.
Most Common Broken Bones in Car Accidents
You can suffer a broken bone almost anywhere in the body during a car accident, especially depending on where your car or body suffered the most impact. However, doctors generally see the following common fractures after car accidents:
- Skull and Facial Fractures can occur if someone violently hits their head or face on a steering wheel or a window during a crash. Facial bones that commonly break during car crashes are the nose bones, jaw bones, and cheekbones. Additionally, the force of airbags hitting the face can definitely cause some severe skull fractures or facial fractures.
- Arm, Hand, and Wrist Fractures: If you try to protect your head with your hands or arms during a car accident, you can suffer some serious damage, mostly due to the airbag.
- Clavicle Fractures: Did you know that the clavicle is the most common bones broken in the human body? That’s because it’s so thin. It doesn’t take much force to break it. The impact of an airbag or the body slamming sideways towards a door can definitely break a clavicle bone.
- Spinal Fractures occur when the force of a motor vehicle accident causes the spinal vertebrae in the neck or back to break.
- Sternum and Rib Fractures are very common in car accidents due to the force of the seat belt on the abdomen during impact. Airbags can also cause sternum and rib fractures.
- Pelvis and Hip Fractures can occur due to the force of the seat belt holding the body in place during an accident. Pelvis fractures are also very common in motorcycle accidents or bicycle accidents.
- Fibula and Femur Fractures: The leg bones are some of the strongest bones in the body because, if you think about it, they have to hold the majority of our body weight. Still, it’s very possible to suffer a broken leg during a violent car accident.
How Do I Know if I Have a Broken Bone After a Car Accident?
Firstly, you should always seek immediate medical treatment after a car accident, whether you think you’re injured or not. But if you do have a broken bone after a car crash, you may experience the following symptoms:
- Intense pain and tenderness in the affected body part
- Bruising and/or swelling in the affected body part
- Inability to move or use the affected body part
- A noticeable bump or deformity in the affected body part
- A piece of bone has pierced through the skin (in the case of a compound fracture)
Treatment Options for Broken Bones After a Car Accident
Car accident fractures can be treated in the following ways:
- Immobilization: If your broken bone is fairly mild and the bones are non-displaced (AKA: they didn’t move out of alignment), then your doctor will likely recommend a cast or a splint. Most people need a splint for 3 to 5 weeks, while others need a cast for 6 to 8 weeks. It all depends on the severity and location of the broken bone.
- Closed Reduction: Severe fractures that cause the bones to move out of alignment will need to be moved back into place. A doctor will do this by literally pushing and pulling on the body to get the bone to move back into alignment. This is very painful, which is why most patients are heavily sedated or unconscious during closed reduction. Afterwards, the patient will likely need a splint or a cast.
- Surgical Repair: A severe type of fracture, such as a comminuted fracture, will require surgery. Depending on the exact type of fracture, the surgeon may use rods, screws, pins, wires, or even a bone graft to repair the bone.
- Bed Rest: Resting is crucial in order for the bone to heal properly.
- Pain Medication: People who suffer bone fractures from car accidents often need pain medication during the healing process.
- Physical Therapy is usually reserved for severe fractures that require surgery and months of bed rest. After so many months of not using or putting weight on the bone, patients will likely have to ease back into normal movement with the help of a physical therapist.
How Long Does it Take for Broken Bones To Heal?
The answer to this question heavily depends on the type of fracture suffered as well as what caused the fracture. Very mild fractures can completely heal within 1 to 2 months, especially with proper treatment. Meanwhile, severe fractures that require a surgical procedure can take up to a year to fully heal. Be sure to ask your doctor for a specific timeline of your recovery process.
Can You Sue for a Broken Bone From a Car Accident?
Yes, if you suffered one or more bone fractures during a car accident, then you can take legal action against the negligent driver. Auto insurance may be enough to cover the medical costs of a mild fracture. But severe fractures are very painful and very expensive. In some cases, car accident victims with severe fractures need multiple surgeries and physical therapy appointments to get back to their normal level of functioning. In cases like this, you can definitely file a personal injury lawsuit against the at fault driver.
Damages for Broken Bones in Car Accidents
If you decide to move forward with a personal injury lawsuit, San Antonio car accident lawyers can help you recover financial compensation for the following types of damages:
- Past and future medical bills
- Past and future physical therapy bills
- Lost wages
- Physical pain and suffering
- Emotional distress
- Mental health counseling bills
Call San Antonio Car Accident Lawyers at Janicek Law Today
If you suffer fractures or other serious injuries from an auto accident, you have grounds to take legal action against the at-fault driver. One or more broken bones can be incredibly expensive due to the combination of medical expenses and lost wages. So car accident victims can face mountains of debt even from a fairly minor broken leg. It’s important to remember that you can pursue financial compensation, and San Antonio car accident lawyers at Janicek Law can help. Call 210-366-4949 to schedule a free consultation with our legal team today.