Bone Fractures After a Car Accident

Written By: The Champion Firm Team

Date Posted: 01.05.24

Category: Car Accident

Whether you are going to a grocery store or work, a car accident can happen when you least expect it. While not all accidents result in injuries, many do. Bone fractures are common yet serious and painful injuries. A fractured bone may occur even when an accident happens at low speeds.

In the guide below, we will discuss the common types of bone fractures in different areas of the body and what compensation you can recover if you suffer this type of injury, among other things. If you have a broken bone from a crash, you should immediately consult a skilled car accident attorney near you.

Bone Fractures in Different Areas of the Body

Generally speaking, most bones in our body are strong enough to withstand a considerable impact. However, a bone can break from too much force exerted on it.

Driver with crutch post-car accident, standing by vehicle with shattered windshield on white background.

Bone fractures can occur in:

  • Arms. Arm fractures refer to a break in the upper arm, elbow, or forearm. Depending on the severity of the fracture, it can take weeks to months to heal and may require surgery.
  • Wrists. The wrist is a relatively small area of the body, but it can still experience a significant impact during a traumatic event. The severity of the fracture depends on how the hands are positioned at the moment of impact.
  • Tibias/fibulas. The tibia and fibula are the two bones that make up the lower leg. A traumatic event such as a crash can cause these bones to fracture, resulting in severe pain, swelling, difficulty walking, and a limited range of motion in the knee/ankle area.
  • Patellas. This fracture is a break in a person’s kneecap, the bone that covers the knee joint. Statistically, fractures of the patella, tibia, and fibula are considered the most common and burdensome.
  • Femurs. The femur is the longest bone in the human body and connects the hip to the knee. A femur fracture is a severe injury resulting in pain, swelling, and an inability to stand, walk, or even bear weight on the leg.
  • Clavicles. The clavicle, or the collarbone, is a long bone connecting the shoulder to the chest. A clavicle fracture commonly occurs due to the force of the seatbelt during an automobile accident.
  • Ribs. The ribs are a crucial part of the chest and protect vital organs such as the heart and lungs. Rib fractures can result in swelling or tenderness in the affected area, difficulty breathing, and severe pain when taking a deep breath.
  • Heads. A car accident can also result in fractures to the skull or facial bones. These injuries can be life-threatening and may require emergency medical attention. When the fractured bone heals, the victim may have disfigurement and other long-term effects. A study found that seat belts reduced the risk of a facial fracture by 74 percent in crashes with frontal impacts.
  • Pelvic bones. The pelvis is a ring of bones that connects the spine to the legs. A fracture of the pelvic bone can result in intense pain when walking or moving legs, difficulty standing or walking, pain in the groin area, and difficulty urinating.
  • Spines. Fractures in the spine can range from minor breaks to serious injuries that can result in paralysis. A crash can cause the spine to fracture due to the force of the impact, especially when the car crumples onto itself.

Regardless of the type of bone fracture, you may be entitled to compensation if the injury results from someone else’s negligent actions. A car accident lawyer can assess your rights to compensation.

How a Car Accident Can Result in Fractured Bones

Each year, people suffer about 5.4 million medically consulted injuries in motor vehicle crashes. Bone fractures are among the most common and often the most impactful injuries that may occur due to direct impact, deceleration, crushing, or ejection in car accidents.

Direct Impact

A direct impact is a common cause of fractures in car crashes, especially when the vehicle collides with another object or vehicle. Direct impact puts a lot of pressure on our bones to the point of fracturing them.

For instance, your legs can fracture if the dashboard crashes into them during a front-end collision. Depending on the severity of the impact, your bone can snap into two pieces or completely shatter.


Deceleration injury is the most common cause of spinal cord and pelvic fractures in car crashes. This type of injury occurs when a moving vehicle suddenly stops. The rapid change in speed can tear the muscles and tissues around the bones. It may also cause the soft tissues to move in opposite directions, leading to spinal cord, rib, and pelvis fractures.


A crushing injury happens when excessive force is applied to a particular body part, pushing it beyond its strength limits. It can occur when car occupants get trapped under the car’s debris, and the metal car frame crushes their bones.

The severity of the crushing injury depends on the weight of the automobile part under which the person gets trapped and how long the person remains trapped. It is not uncommon for victims to experience multiple fractures and internal injuries after a crushing injury.


An ejection injury occurs when a car occupant is thrown from the car during an accident, which is common when the vehicle’s occupants are not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the collision.

The impact of landing on the pavement or hitting objects nearby can cause severe fractures and internal injuries. Ejection injuries are potentially fatal and happen when a car occupant fails to wear a seatbelt or if the car’s safety features do not work properly.

  • Note: Wearing a seatbelt can significantly minimize the risk of an ejection injury. Buckling up is the law. All states except New Hampshire require adult front-seat occupants to wear seatbelts. In Georgia, all persons riding in the front seat must wear a seatbelt under Georgia Code § 40-6-273.

Symptoms of a Fractured Bone After a Car Accident

The following symptoms may be an indication of a fractured bone:

  • Pain. You may experience persistent and intense pain in the affected area, ranging from mild to severe.
  • Swelling. Swelling at the injury site may also occur, causing stiffness in the surrounding joints.
  • Deformity. When a bone breaks, it can cause the affected limb to look deformed or misshapen.
  • Bruising. Injured victims may notice bruising around the site of the fracture, often accompanied by difficulty moving the affected area.
  • Weakness. You may experience weakness in the area with a bone fracture, making it difficult to use the affected limb.
  • Numbness or tingling. Numbness or tingling in the affected area can signal nerve damage.
  • Limited mobility. Fractures can severely limit your mobility and range of motion, especially if they occur in the limbs.
  • Muscle spasms. Fractures can cause muscle spasms in the surrounding area.
  • Inability to put weight on the limb. Fractures in the lower limbs can make it difficult to put weight on the affected limb.
  • Throbbing pain. Fractures can cause a throbbing pain at the site of the injury.
  • Redness. Sometimes, fractures can cause redness in the surrounding area due to inflammation.
  • Difficulty sleeping. Fractures can make it difficult to sleep, especially if they occur in the limbs.
  • Discolored skin. Fractures can cause the skin around the affected area to become discolored, a sign of nerve or vascular damage.
  • Bone showing. Some people see the bone showing when it pierces through the skin.

If you notice any of these symptoms, do not hesitate to seek medical attention right away. Then, discuss your legal options for compensation with a car accident attorney in your area.

Diagnosis and Treatment Methods for Fractured Bones

Early diagnosis is key to effective treatment.

Compassionate female doctor attends to overworked male patient in a wheelchair with knee and ankle pain at the hospital, receiving necessary medical care.

Some of the methods to diagnose fractured bones include:

  • X-rays. X-rays are the most common diagnostic test to determine whether a bone has fractured. The test produces images of the bone, allowing medical professionals to see any structural breaks or cracks. X-rays are quick and painless, making them the ideal first step in diagnosing a bone fracture. They can usually happen in the emergency room, and results are available immediately. The only downside is that X-rays may not be as accurate and comprehensive as CT or MRI scans.
  • Computerized tomography (CT) scans. A CT scan is sometimes necessary if an X-ray does not provide enough information. This diagnostic test uses a combination of X-rays and computer technology to create detailed images of the bone, muscles, and soft tissue surrounding the fracture. A CT scan can detect fractures that may not be visible on standard X-rays and identify any damage to nerves or blood vessels. CT scans can take longer to complete than X-rays, and they usually require a referral to an imaging center.
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). An MRI is another diagnostic test often ordered by medical professionals to identify fractures that X-rays and CT scans may miss. This test uses a powerful magnetic field and radio waves to produce detailed bone and soft tissue images. An MRI scan can take longer and is more expensive than a CT scan, and some people may feel claustrophobic during the test. MRI scans can last from 30 minutes to two hours.
  • Bone mineral density (BMD) test. This test can determine the amount of calcium and other minerals in a patient’s bones. This test might help in cases where the patient has a history of osteoporosis or other bone disorders that may affect bone strength. Fractures are more likely to occur in weak bones due to a loss of mineral density, so a BMD test can help identify any underlying conditions that may contribute to a fracture.

Once a doctor diagnoses a bone fracture, they will select the appropriate treatment method to help you heal.

The most common treatment methods are: 

  • Immobilization through a splint or cast. This aligns and stabilizes the bones and prevents further damage while allowing the body to heal naturally. The affected area is wrapped with a plaster or fiberglass cast that needs to be worn for several weeks or months until the bone has fully healed.
  • Functional cast or brace that allows limited movement of nearby joints. In some cases, a functional cast or brace may be more appropriate to allow limited movement of the nearby joints. This treatment method can be appropriate when the fracture is not severe and requires only minimal immobilization.
  • Medication. Pain and inflammation are common after a bone fracture. In many cases, doctors may prescribe medications, such as pain relievers and anti-inflammatories, to alleviate the pain and swelling. These medications help to manage the pain and discomfort while the body heals and also reduce the risk of any further complications.
  • Physical therapy. Physical therapy is a crucial component of fracture treatment, especially in cases where the bone has been immobilized for an extended period. Physical therapy can help maintain and restore the affected area’s range of motion, strength, and flexibility.
  • Open reduction and internal fixation. Severe fractures may call for surgery to stabilize the bones and promote healing. This method, called open reduction and internal fixation, involves the use of plates, screws, and rods to hold the broken bones together.
  • External fixation. External fixation is a treatment method that involves using pins or wires attached to the outside of the affected area and connected to a device that stabilizes the bones. This method may be appropriate when the fracture is complicated and requires prolonged immobilization.
  • Traction. Traction is a less common treatment method for bone fractures that uses weights and pulleys to gently pull the bones into the proper position. Traction is typically combined with other treatment methods and is not usually a standalone procedure.

Resting the affected area can prevent further complications and ensure proper healing. In addition to appropriate treatment methods, patients should avoid any physical activities that may stress the affected area until a doctor has given them the green light.

Hiring a car accident lawyer can seek compensation for the limitations and inconvenience you experience.

Recoverable Damages for Bone Fractures

Fractured bones can significantly impact your life and make it challenging to carry out your everyday activities, not to mention the medical expenses, prolonged healing time, and inability to work.

Darl Champion, Car Accident Lawyer

Car Accident Attorney, Darl Champion

You may recover compensation for:

  • Hospital bills and other medical expenses. Medical expenses include the cost of emergency room visits, hospitalization, surgery, laboratory tests, rehabilitation, and prescription drugs, among others.
  • Past and future lost income and diminished earning capacity. This may include compensation for the time you are unable to work as well as loss of future earning potential if your injury permanently impacts your ability to work.
  • Past and future pain and suffering. Bone fractures can be excruciating, and the pain can have long-term effects on the victim’s life. Pain and suffering damages are available to compensate accident victims for the physical, emotional, and mental pain they experience as a result of their injury.
  • Emotional distress and mental anguish. Often, accident victims with bone fractures suffer from anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and other forms of psychological harm.
  • Loss of enjoyment of life. Victims suffering from bone fractures may experience a diminished quality of life, which can affect everything from hobbies to daily activities. Compensation for loss of enjoyment of life aims to account for this unfair loss of joy in life’s everyday pursuits.
  • Disfigurement. Bone fractures may sometimes result in permanent disfigurement, especially if the victim suffers facial fractures. If it does, the accident victim can recover compensation to restore their physical appearance to how it previously was before the accident.
  • Inconvenience. If your bone fracture injury has forced you to adjust your daily routines or hire someone to handle personal responsibilities, you can request compensation for the inconvenience.
  • Household services while the victim is recovering. In-house services such as cleaning, laundry, grocery shopping, or childcare may be necessary while the victim recovers from a bone fracture injury. The victim can recover for the cost of these services to ease the burden on themselves and their loved ones.

A skilled personal injury lawyer can pursue compensation for the expenses and losses you have incurred due to a bone fracture. Your lawyer will work tirelessly to determine and prove the full extent of your damages and ensure you receive the maximum compensation you deserve.

About the Author

The Champion Firm, Personal Injury Attorneys, P.C. is a full-service personal injury law firm serving the greater Metro Atlanta area. Our award-winning team of attorneys specializes in car accidents, wrongful death, premises liability, and slip-and-fall cases. Learn more about our team here.