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Common Types of Occupational Bone Fractures

Workers’ compensation covers broken bones due to work accidents and repetitive motion tasks

Bone fractures are common work-related injuries in New York. Often the result of work accidents or repetitive tasks, broken bones are serious, painful, and debilitating work injuries that can happen to any employee in any industry. The scenarios are endless. It could be a:

  • Construction worker who fell from scaffolding in Manhattan and broke their leg.
  • Server in Queens who fractured their ankle after they slipped and fell.
  • Bronx warehouse worker whose hand was ensnared and crushed by heavy machinery.
  • Staten Island mechanic with hairline thumb fractures due to years of using power tools.

In New York, most employees with work-related bone fractures are eligible for workers' compensation benefits, covering medical expenses and a percentage of lost wages. However, navigating the process isn’t always as easy as it should be. That’s why injured employees should consult an experienced workers' comp attorney to understand their potential legal options.

Bone fracture categories and types

Bones are made up of a matrix of collagen, a protein that gives them flexibility, and minerals like calcium that provide hardness. When a force is applied to a bone that exceeds its strength, it can lead to a fracture. The bones most frequently broken or fractured on the job are the wrist, ankle, and hip, followed by ribs, skull, chest, spine, and pelvis.

Compensation for occupational bone fractures largely depends on the type and severity of the injury. There are many ways to categorize fractures - by the wound type, break direction, and severity. Fracture categories include:

Types of broken bone wounds

  • Closed. There are no open wounds.
  • Open. An open wound is visible.
  • Compound. Open wound with visible bone.

Types of bone breaks

  • Stable fracture. Broken bones line up well, a “clean” break.
  • Transverse fracture. The fracture line is horizontal.
  • Oblique fracture. The bone break is at an angle.
  • Spiral fracture. The fracture wraps around the bone.
  • Linear fracture. A bone break without separation.
  • Comminuted fracture. Two, three, or more breaks in the same bone.
  • Avulsion fracture. Part of the fractured bone is pulled away from its main location by nearby soft tissues.

Types of fracture severity

  • Fissured or hairline fracture. Small or thin cracks in the bone that may be caused by repetitive motion or a sudden event. Also known as stress fractures.
  • Impacted or buckle fracture. The ends of the broken bone were forced back into each other.
  • Complicated fracture. These occur when a fractured bone causes damage to other parts of the body, like muscles, tendons, organs, or nerves.
  • Compression fracture. Usually, an injury to the spine in which the bones are compressed and cause damage to the vertebrae.

In a work accident, a bone fracture may be one of many injuries sustained by an employee. Work-related bone fractures may also involve significant blood loss, damage to organs or surrounding tissue, and nerve damage, among other injuries. It is also possible to have an injury in addition to a broken bone and not know it. That’s one reason why it is essential to seek immediate medical attention after a work accident.

Medical treatment for bone fractures

Getting immediate medical attention for a work-related bone fracture is critical. About 10 percent of all fractures that are not treated, or the treatment is delayed, can result in infection, tumors, comminution, and disrupted vascular supply. A medical professional or doctor may use an X-ray, CT scan, or MRI scan to diagnose the fracture and conduct a thorough examination for additional damage.

Orthopedic surgeons and medical professionals have an array of potential treatment options at their disposal to address broken bones sustained in workplace accidents. The choice of treatment method recommended will be contingent on various factors, including the nature and severity of the fracture, alongside other health considerations.

Common treatments for work-related bone fractures and alleviating the resultant pain and discomfort include:

  • Plaster casts: Plaster casts are widely used to immobilize and support fractured bones, allowing them to heal properly. These casts are molded to fit the injured area and are instrumental in stabilizing the bone during the healing process.
  • Splints and braces: Similar to casts, splints and braces provide support and stabilization to fractured bones. They are often utilized in less severe cases or as post-cast support during the latter stages of recovery.
  • Multiple surgeries: Complex fractures may necessitate multiple surgical procedures. Surgeons may use various techniques to realign and secure the broken bones effectively.
  • Surgical insertion of metal rods or plates: In cases of severe fractures or when alignment is challenging, orthopedic surgeons may opt for the surgical insertion of metal rods, screws, or plates to reinforce and stabilize the bone during the healing process.
  • Bone graft: Bone grafting involves transplanting bone tissue to the site of the fracture to stimulate and accelerate the healing process. This procedure is particularly valuable for cases with compromised bone integrity.
  • Bone stimulators: Bone stimulators, which may be electrical, electromagnetic, or ultrasonic, are used to promote bone healing. They work by enhancing the body's natural regenerative processes.
  • Physical therapy: Physical therapy plays a crucial role in rehabilitation. It aids in restoring mobility, strength, and functionality to the affected area after the fracture has healed sufficiently.
  • Rest: Adequate rest is vital for the healing process. It allows the body to focus its energy on repairing the damaged bone.
  • Dietary supplements: In some cases, dietary supplements containing essential nutrients like calcium and vitamin D may be recommended to support bone health and healing.
  • Prescribed pain relief medications: To manage pain and discomfort during the recovery period, healthcare providers may prescribe pain relief medications, ensuring the patient's comfort while the fracture heals.

Some fractures take longer than others to heal. Leg fractures, for example, are easy to reinjure and may require months in a cast followed by extended rest.

Fractures can also lead to paralysis and permanent disabilities that restrict activities and may require the use of a wheelchair, cane, or other medical device.

That's why it’s important for employees to understand the extent of their injuries before accepting a workers’ compensation or work injury settlement.

Applying for workers’ comp in New York City with a bone fracture

Applying for workers’ comp after a work accident is a high-stakes and complicated process. But you don’t have to face it alone. At the New York law offices of Pasternack Tilker Ziegler Walsh Stanton & Romano LLP, we fight for injured workers' rights.

Our attorneys have decades of experience successfully handling workers' comp claims, and we would be honored to help you with your potential legal case.

If you suffered a broken bone while on the job in New York, contact us today for a free case evaluation. A member of our team can answer your questions, explain your potential legal options, and explain how an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer can help.

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