Fractured Bones During Motorcycle Accident
Broken bones are on the list of common motorcycle accident injuries. Riders and passengers are often ejected, inertia propelling them full speed into pavement, trees, vehicles, light poles and other obstacles. It can be impossible to fully shield one’s extremities, even when donning all protective gear required under MGL ch. 90 section 7. Riders with time to react instinctively brace for impact by extending their arms or legs to safeguard their head and torso, inevitably leading to fractures.
Orthopedic injuries like fractures can range in severity from minor to severe – and in some cases are life-threatening. Although most broken bones sustained in a motorcycle crash won’t kill you, they can alter your life, at the very least until the cast comes off. Many victims are unable to carry out everyday tasks and can’t return to work for weeks or months. Chronic pain can become an issue. There is also a risk certain fractures may impact nearby soft tissue, nerves and internal organs. Sadly, some breaks never properly heal.
Motorcycle injury attorneys in Boston at The Law Offices of Jeffrey S. Glassman have prevailed in many cases involving victims with broken bones. Sometimes reasonable settlements can be reached with defendants/ insurers well in advance of trial, but we will not shy away from a courtroom resolution if there are no fair offers on the table. We meticulously investigate each case to identify all possible defendants (including negligent driver employers, vehicle owners, alcohol vendors, government agencies, vehicle manufacturers and other third parties) as well as develop a complete picture of your injuries and the resulting losses you have suffered.Types of Bone Fractures in Motorcycle Accidents
Bones are rigid, but thankfully they do “give” to some extent when outside force is applied. However, motorcycle accidents tend to involve higher force than bones can withstand, resulting in broken bones.
Just how severe such injury is will vary depending on applied force and what bones or joints are involved. A fall might result in a simple crack or hairline fracture, but extreme force (such as in a motor vehicle collision) can cause bones to shatter.
The American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons breaks down the five basic types of bone breaks:
- Stable fracture. This is when both ends of the bone line up and are not far out-of-place.
- Open, compound fracture. This is when the skin is broken, but the bone may not be visible through the wound.
- Transverse fracture . Here, the bones have broken in a horizontal fracture line.
- Oblique fracture. This is a broken bone where the break pattern is angled.
- Comminuted fracture. This type of break is where the bone shatters into three – or more – different pieces.
Treatment and long-term prognosis will depend on the seriousness of the break and your overall health. While many breaks will heal with prompt, proper treatment, some may not and require a more intensive approach, including permanent rods or bone grafts.Common Bone Fractures in Massachusetts Motorcycle Accidents
Any bone exposed to blunt force or puncture in a crash has the potential to break, but there are certain patterns of injury seen commonly in motorcycle crash victims.
- Leg fractures. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reports lower extremity injuries are the most common sustained in motorcycle crashes (followed by upper extremity injuries and head injuries). Over a 10-year time frame, those who suffered a single isolated lower extremity injury (such as a broken tibia or broken fibula) were usually discharged after receiving acute care, but even they racked up $21,000 in hospital charges on average. Those with multiple lower extremity injuries had charges that averaged $39,000 per patient. Those who had a combination of other injuries had hospital bills in the $56,000 range. Injuries to the femur (thighbone), fibula (outer leg bone) and tibia (shinbone) tend to require the longest recovery times – especially if it’s a displaced fracture (where bones aren’t aligned), meaning surgery is required. Pelvic fractures are often extremely serious due to excessive bleeding and risk to important organs. Usually an operation is necessary. Crush injuries (typically occurring when a leg is pinned or crushed) will take much longer and may even require amputation. Knees too can be affected by patellar fractures (broken kneecap) or dislocation. These are usually complex fractures and may require surgery.
- Arm fractures. These can include wrist fractures, shoulder fractures, elbow fractures and broken hands and fingers. Injury to the forearm ( radius and ulna) are common because motorcyclists use their arms to break the fall or impact. If it’s relatively minor, a doctor in the emergency department will realign the bones and put a cast on it. That can still have you unable to work for weeks, depending on your job. If it’s a more serious fracture, it may be necessary to undergo surgery to install screws and metal plates to hold the bones together.
- Facial fractures. This can include fractures to the nasal bone, orbital fractures (bones under the eye), jaw fracture and skull fractures. These are associated with extensive bleeding and serious risk to major functions (i.e., breathing, sight, smell, taste, hearing and cognitive function). They are more common among motorcyclists who weren’t wearing a helmet (which is required by state law), but this fact alone won’t stop you from winning your case.
Insurers do not have to provide no-fault personal injury protection (PIP) benefits to motorcyclists the way they do for other drivers under MGL ch. 90 section 34M. That means we must pursue other avenues of damage recovery against those who were at-fault, especially because fractures stemming from a motorcycle accident are often quite serious. You shouldn’t be stuck with those bills and the burden of struggling to make ends meet because you are unable to work. We must point out that in single-vehicle crashes, passengers can take legal action against the motorcycle operator too. Although some are initially reluctant to do this because the operator is usually a friend or loved one, the reality is it’s almost always auto insurers who ultimately pay, not the operator personally.
One silver lining in broken bone injury cases in Massachusetts is that unlike soft-tissue injuries, which can be difficult to prove or quantify, defendants know it’s tough to argue with a black-and-white x-ray of a bone fracture. These injuries are often indisputable, so defendants have a harder time arguing some other cause, or contesting severity of injury (as they do with many other damage claims). This often makes the settlement process more favorable to the plaintiff.
However, defendants sometimes still argue vigorously against our valuations of your injury, such as the extent of your pain and suffering, loss of life enjoyment and negative impact to your future earning potential. Even rehabilitative and medical expenses may be contested. Our Boston motorcycle accident attorneys are well-versed in the tactics of insurance companies and know how to effectively counter them.
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