If you've got a personal injury case stemming from an accident or incident that resulted in a broken bone (or multiple fractures), you may wonder how these types of injuries might impact the value of a settlement or court award you might receive.
Of course, much depends on the unique facts of your case, but there are a few common factors to consider when attempting to value a personal injury claim involving bone fracture(s). We'll cover those factors here, 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 seriousness of the claimant's injuries, and the medical evidence that can be utilized to prove those injuries.
When someone suffers a 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 can be difficult to prove, "hard" injuries like bone fractures are nearly indisputable.
Learn more about how the nature and extent of your injuries affects the value of your personal injury case.
"Valuing" a case means coming up with an estimate of what a jury might award the person suing for a broken fracture (the plaintiff), while also considering what the person being sued (the defendant) would be willing to 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: in the rare event that a personal injury case makes it to trial, it will be a jury that ultimately decides just how much money the defendant must pay the injured plaintiff.
Damages like medical bills and lost income are easier to predict because they'll 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 more subjective damages like “pain and suffering,” predictions are at best an educated guess based on awards in similar cases involving similar kinds of injuries.
Of course, not all bone fractures are valued in the same manner. Right or wrong, a broken finger won't be "worth" as much as a broken leg. 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, damages based on “loss of quality of life” will likely be higher in the eyes of a jury than if the plaintiff had been relatively physically inactive before the injury.
If the plaintiff had a prior fracture that made her more susceptible to re-injury, 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 likely be more inclined to accept a low settlement because he runs the risk of getting nothing at trial.
Medical bills and other losses resulting from a workplace bone 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 might 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 someone else was at fault for the accident that led to your bone fracture, the best way to get information that's tailored to your situation is to talk to a lawyer. Get tips on finding the right personal injury lawyer for you and your case.