If you've got a personal injury case involving a broken bone or multiple fractures, you're probably wondering how that specific injury might impact the value of any settlement or court award you might receive. Any exact dollar amount will obviously depend on the unique facts of your case, but there are a few common factors to consider. In this article, we'll discuss the key considerations when attempting to value a claim involving a broken bone, and we'll also look at some examples of past verdicts and settlements where a broken bone injury came into play.
One of the most important factors in any personal injury case is the availability and nature of medical evidence of the injuries. When someone suffers a broken or fractured bone (or multiple fractured bones), a radiologist will almost certainly take x-ray images that definitively speak to the extent of the injury. There’s no arguing with the black and white x-ray image of a fractured bone. Unlike soft-tissue injuries which are difficult to prove, “hard” injuries like bone fractures are nearly indisputable.
Having this type of medical evidence should make negotiating a settlement easier. See Valuing the Nature and Extent of Your Injuries for an in-depth analysis of how different types of injuries are valued in a personal injury case.
“Valuing” a case means coming up with an estimate of what a jury might award the person who is suing for a broken bone (the plaintiff), while also considering what the person being sued (the defendant) would be willing to ultimately pay. There's also the question of the amount each side might be willing to agree upon in order to settle an injury case before trial.
That's obviously a lot to consider. But the two big factors in valuing any case are the extent of the plaintiff’s damages -- how bad the broken bone injury is -- and how likely the jury is to find the defendant liable if the case goes to trial.
Estimating with any degree of accuracy how much the plaintiff might receive is quite difficult for one main reason: at trial, it will be a jury that ultimately decides just how much money the defendant must pay the injured plaintiff.
Some damages, like medical bills and lost wages, are easier to predict because “concrete” damages like these will mostly be based on the amount the plaintiff demonstrates he or she has paid or lost and/or will continue to pay or lose. For subjective, less concrete damages like “pain and suffering,” predictions are at best an educated guess based on awards in similar broken bone cases in the past. There are methods of calculating these types of damages that an insurance company and defense attorney might use, but they serve only to come up with a figure from which to negotiate.
How the broken bone affects a particular plaintiff is also key in valuing damages. For example, if the plaintiff was a very active person who enjoyed participating in a variety of sports and outdoor activities, but suffers a partially-disabling compound fracture, his damages based on “loss of quality of life” will likely be higher in the eyes of a jury than if he had been relatively physically inactive before the injury.
If the plaintiff had a prior fracture that made him more susceptible to re-injury, his damages might go down. Additionally, if the broken bone temporarily or permanently prevents a plaintiff from making a living, the defendant could be liable for the full extent of lost wages or diminished earning capacity.
The other major factor in valuing a case is the likelihood that the defendant will be found liable at trial. If there is little or no evidence proving the defendant was at fault for the plaintiff’s broken bone, there is a higher likelihood that the plaintiff would lose at trial, so the defendant will be less likely to offer a high settlement amount.
Even if the potential damages are high, a defendant will be less willing to settle and more inclined to take her chances at trial. Similarly, where fault is up in the air, the plaintiff will be more inclined to accept a low settlement because he runs the risk of getting nothing at trial.
A workplace fracture will typically only be paid out by the worker’s compensation carrier. The standards of compensation vary from state to state, but if a plaintiff is not completely disabled by the injury and does not have high medical bills – the fractured bone(s) did not require surgery, or a long-term cast, for example -- the worker’s compensation payment may not be very high.
To get an idea of the available compensation for a bone fracture in a workers compensation case, see this overview of workers compensation benefits, or talk to a local attorney.
Here is a quick look at a few real-world awards and settlements in injury cases involving broken bones:
If you’ve suffered any kind of serious injury caused by someone else’s carelessness, negligence, or even intentional act, you would be well served to talk to an attorney about your case. A consultation should be free, and you can get a real idea of what you may expect in a settlement.