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Complications from Bone Fractures in Auto Accidents

Posted By Dennis Wagner
Complications from Bone Fractures in Auto Accidents

Some people don’t think that broken bones are a serious injury. They imagine that a victim just gets a cast put on the affected limb and, within a few months, the bone heals, then life returns to normal. But, if those bones have been broken as the result of an auto, truck or workplace accident, the situation may not be that simple.

In some cases, rehabbing a fracture might be as simple as that. However, in many cases, complications ensue. And when they do, accident victims can be permanently impaired or sick for very long periods of time. Broken bones are extremely common in accidents of this type. Insurance companies will fight vigorously to either settle quickly with you, or to attempt to settle your case should you hire an attorney. Before we dive into the complications, please never talk to an insurance company without the help of an attorney if you have suffered broken bones in an accident. Most attorneys can work with you on a contingency based fee which means they do not get paid until you do.

Below, our California bone fracture lawyer identifies the top complications from bone fractures that accident victims should be on the lookout for.


An infection can be devastating, especially if the infection enters the bloodstream or the bone. Fractures can sometimes become infected when a broken bone pierces the skin. This is called an “open compound fracture,” and is sometimes seen particularly when a bone breaks in the leg.

Any broken skin must be immediately cleaned and closed in a sterilized manner. A patient should also look for signs of infection, such as:

  • Fever
  • Redness
  • Pus draining from the wound


A bone might be set improperly, which will result in the bones fusing back together improperly. This is called malunion, and it can cause a person considerable pain and expense. An improperly fused bone might cause disability, and a patient might need it broken again and reset, which costs money and can leave them unable to work for additional months.

Fracture Blisters

A fracture blister can form when the skin attaches directly to the bone, typically because there is no soft tissue (like muscle) between the two. Fracture blisters can form in certain places, such as the elbow, ankle, and foot. A patient will usually need to have a cast removed early and have their limb elevated. They are typically immobilized as they recover.

Soft Tissue Damage

The jagged end of a broken bone can slice through soft tissue, including muscles, tendons, ligaments, and veins. This tissue can sustain permanent damage if a doctor does not try to repair it while setting the broken bone.

When a broken bone cuts into veins, the person can begin to bleed substantially, leading to something called “compartment syndrome.” The pooled blood impedes the flow of blood to and from the affected area, which can cause tissue or organ death if the pressure is not relieved.


Fractured ribs impair a person’s ability to exhale fully. In the elderly, any rib fracture dramatically increases the possibility that the victim will develop pneumonia. There is also an increased chance that they will die as a result.

The statistics are alarming. One 10-year study found that nearly a third of elderly patients (those 65 and older) developed pneumonia after a rib fracture. Also, 22% of those ultimately died. The mortality rate was over twice as high for the elderly as for those who were younger, and the rate increases the more ribs that are broken.

In fact, any fracture in the elderly can increase the risk of pneumonia because it might lead to being bedridden. This is also true of fractures in the legs or hips.

Surgical Risks

If a patient needs a doctor to insert a pin, screw, or plate, then they face any of the additional risks that come with surgery. Depending on the break, a patient might need general anesthesia, which can carry potentially fatal complications and the risk of health care-associated infections.

Emotional Distress

Some complications are emotional, not physical. Suffering a fracture can lead to a cascade of negative emotions, often stemming from the fact that a person cannot go about their normal daily activities. If the break immobilizes a patient, they could suffer from depression, irritability, and anger.

Some breaks are disfiguring, such as a broken nose that might not return to normal even after reconstructive surgery. These types of visible disfigurements can lead to intense embarrassment, anxiety, and social withdrawal.

There are also the petty annoyances that come with a broken bone that should not be discounted. Needing to scratch an unreachable itch can lead to anger and sleeplessness, impacting all aspects of a person’s mental well-being. All of this emotional distress is deserving of compensation.

Speak with a California Bone Fracture Attorney Today

The lawyers at Wagner Zemming Christensen LLP never discount a broken bone as just a “minor” injury. Instead, we help clients obtain the maximum compensation for their financial and non-economic losses. Please contact us today. We offer a free consultation to those who reach out to us to discuss their cases.

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About the Author:

Dennis Wagner

Wagner Zemming Christensen, LLP representing clients in the following areas - personal injury, commercial real estate, business law and employment law specializing in employee issues such as wrongful termination, discrimination and civil rights. For more details call our Riverside motorcycle accident lawyer at 951-686-4800.... View full business profile here: Dennis Wagner