Bone Injuries: Conditions & Common Causes

Bone injuries are a very common type of personal injury. There are two types: traumatic fracture, such as from a car accident, or pathologic (spontaneous) fracture, due to a disease such as osteoporosis.

A fracture that pierces the skin so that the wound is open to the environment is called an open fracture. A fracture completely inside the skin is a closed fracture. Bones break in different ways—they can twist, shatter or be incomplete (a greenstick or fissured fracture). Hairline or stress fractures are less obvious but no less important to treat. Symptoms of a bone injury include pain, tenderness, deformity, exposure of the bone, swelling, bruising, or joints locked into position.

When children break bones, a rare type of injury (across the epiphyseal disk) can stunt their long term growth. Fractures may be especially traumatic for older adults. Breaking a hip, for example, is often the triggering event that puts the injured person in a nursing home or leads to a downward spiral of debilitating ailments.

Common Causes of Bone Injury

Auto Accidents: The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration reports that traffic accidents cause around three million injuries a year. Auto accidents frequently cause serious or complicated fractures, such as to the leg, pelvis, or skull. Not wearing seat belts increases the chance of fractures and also may mean that the victim contributed to any negligence in the accident. Always wear a seat belt. They are designed so that the forces in a crash are absorbed by the strongest areas of your body - the bones of the hips, shoulders and chest.

Slip and Falls: According to the Centers for Disease Control, fall-related injuries are the leading cause of injury deaths and disability among adults over 65 years old. The most serious injury from falls is the hip fracture, responsible for about 300,000 hospitalizations a year. One half of all older adults hospitalized for hip fracture never regain their former level of function. Osteoporosis contributes to 1.5 million fractures a year in the U.S., but often it is a silent condition until the fall.

Sports Injuries: Each year, about 4.4 million children between 5 and 18 years old are treated in hospital emergency rooms for sports injuries. About five percent of those injuries are broken bones. Like adults, kids can get fractures from overuse (stress fractures) as well as from accidents on the field.

Legally, a sports injury may be complicated by assumption of risk, that is, the participant was fully aware he or she might get hurt from playing in the sport. However, the laws on negligence vary from state to state. If your child might have been injured because of someone else’s negligence, it makes good sense to consult a personal injury lawyer in your area. The first consultation usually costs nothing. See How a Lawyer Can Help, below.

Conditions Resulting from Bone Injuries

Serious fractures may require surgery, physical therapy, and long term recovery. Doctors may have to pin together complicated fractures with metal plates or surgical wiring. In addition to the pain and suffering, bone injuries can lead to temporary or permanent disability. That in turn can create negative psychological effects and depression. Victims may feel isolated and helpless because they can’t perform their routine chores, work, sports, or other activities.

How a Lawyer Can Help

Broken bones are hard injuries, much like head injuries, dislocations or ligament or cartilage tears. They are considered more serious than soft-tissues injuries, such as a sprained ankle or back. In the legal area, hard injuries are worth more dollars and cents. The more serious the break, the higher is the value of your damage claim.

That said, if you or your loved one has suffered a bone injury as a result of someone else’s negligence, you may be entitled to seek compensation for your injuries and for related medical expenses. A personal injury can give advice about your particular case. The lawyer will find all the applicable insurance coverage, fully document your claim, and represent you in negotiations or in court, so that you can recover the maximum possible compensation.

Seek legal advice as soon after the injury as possible or you may lose your ability to go to court on your claim based on your state's statute of limitations (click here to find out what the statute of limitations is in your state). If you would like to have your case reviewed by an experienced injury lawyer, simply fill out our case evaluation form.