Injuries to the hand, wrist and elbow can be devastating as they significantly restrict your ability to work in most types of jobs. They can also prevent you from performing routine tasks. Without the function of your upper extremities, it is almost impossible to carry or lift objects and to touch or grasp things.
Any type of injury to the hand, wrist, elbow or arm can be extremely painful and disabling. You may need extensive treatment, surgery and rehabilitation. It may take several months to regain the use of your arm and to recover your lost strength, flexibility and mobility. Some arm injuries such as amputations are catastrophic and the victims’ lives are never the same again. An experienced New York arm injury lawyer can help you assess your legal rights and better understand your options during such challenging times.
Types of Arm Injuries
There are several types of arm injuries one might suffer either on the job or during a traumatic event such as a car accident. A majority of injuries listed below are diagnosed using X-rays or MRIs.
Broken arm: A broken arm is the most common type of arm injury. A break may occur when a bone is twisted, struck directly, or used to brace against a fall. About one in every 20 fractures involves the upper arm bone or humerus. Children are more likely to break the lower arm bones (radius or ulna). When a person is in a car accident or falls down on an outstretched arm, it often results in a broken arm. Most people know immediately when their arm is broken because they may hear a snap or a loud cracking sound. The broken arm may seem deformed and become swollen and bruised. Common symptoms include extreme pain at the site of the injury, pain increased by movement and loss of normal use of the arm.
Elbow fractures: The elbow joint may fracture at different locations based on the traumatic event that caused it. Distal humerus fractures occur at the end of the upper arm bone where it forms the elbow. This is a very serious injury that damages the joint and cartilage and often results from severe falls or high impact incidents such as car accidents. Olecranon fractures occur when the bony tip in the elbow breaks. Since this bone has little protection, it may break if there is a direct blow to the elbow or if you fall on a bent elbow. Radial head fractures occur at the head of the radial bone. These account for about 20 percent of all elbow injuries.
Amputations: Whether it is losing fingers, a hand or an arm, amputations are not only physically and mentally traumatic, but also catastrophic. Amputations leave victims with lifelong disabilities. Victims are unable to perform jobs or activities, which they were able to prior to the accident. A number of amputees tend to lose the ability to earn a livelihood.
Dislocations: Pushing or pulling bones out of their normal relationship to other bones that make up a joint may cause dislocations. This occurs when the bones slip out of place. Individuals who suffer these types of injuries spend a significant amount of time in rehabilitation.
Bruises: These are contusions that occur when blood vessels under the skin tear or rupture, often from a twist, bump or fall. Blood leaks into the tissues under the skin and causes a black-and-blue color that usually turns purple, red, yellow or green as the bruise heals.
Sprains and strains: Injuries to the tough, rope-like fibers that connect bone to bone and help stabilize joints may lead to sprains or strains. Arm injuries can lead to pulled or ruptured muscles. These types of injuries usually involve an extended recovery for the victim.
Nerve damage: Arm injuries may result in nerve pain or nerve damage. Victims in such cases may require long-term disability. The nerves of the arm arise from the spinal cord in the lower neck forming a nerve bundle known as the brachial plexus. This nerve bundle splits giving rise to the ulnar, radial and median arm nerves. Arm nerve damage may cause a variety of symptoms from severe pain to varying loss of function and sensation.
Causes of Arm Injuries
Here are some of the most common causes of arm injuries:
Car accidents: Auto accidents, whether it’s a fender bender or a multi-car pileup, may result in arm and elbow injuries that are debilitating. Arms and elbows are exposed to injury and receive no protection from seatbelts or airbags. Fractures are among the most serious arm injuries that can occur in a car accident. Auto accidents, especially side collisions, can cause multiple arm fractures as well. Victims of auto accidents also face the risk of getting their arm bones crushed. It may be very difficult to recover completely from these types of injuries.
Slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accidents: There are many different ways in which an arm can be injured in a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident. Wrist injuries are common because individuals will throw down their hands instinctively to break the fall. Doing so puts a significant amount of pressure on the wrist, which can result in a broken wrist. Typically, slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accidents leave little reaction time for the victim. Often the victim lands on his or her elbow, which can lead to a broken, chipped or sprained elbow. Also, when a person falls, the shoulder can take a large portion of the impact resulting in shoulder dislocation or ligament damage.
Laborer accidents: Workers who perform hard physical labor such as that required in construction jobs are in danger of suffering severe arm injuries including bone fractures and crushing injuries. Arm injuries at construction sites may also occur as the result of falling, struck-by incidents and accidents involving heavy equipment or machinery. Other laborers who are in danger of suffering arm injuries include ironworkers, steelworkers, sheetrock workers, bricklayers, electricians, carpenters, window washers, etc.
Work-related injuries: Arm injuries caused by repetitive motion are among the most common injuries suffered in the workplace. These are basically tissue injuries that occur as a result of repeated motions. The most common types of repetitive motion injuries are tendinitis and bursitis.
Acts of violence: An act of violence such as a physical or sexual assault may also result in arm injuries. The severity of the injuries usually depends on the intensity of the attack.
Dog bites: Dog bite victims often suffer severe arm injuries because they tend to try and defend themselves from the attacking dog using their arms. Common injuries suffered in dog attacks include lacerations, puncture wounds, nerve injuries and digital or limb amputations.
Who Can Be Held Liable?
There are several parties that can be held financially liable in arm injury cases. The determination and fault as well as liability of the responsible party or parties will depend on the nature of the incident and the circumstances of the injury. For example, if you have suffered your arm injury at a construction site, you may file for workers’ compensation benefits, which will help pay medical expenses and a portion of lost wages.
In addition to workers’ compensation, an injured construction worker may also be able to able to file a third-party claim against a party other than the employer such as a general contractor, sub-contractor, product manufacturer or property owner whose negligence may have caused or contributed to the incident.
If you have suffered your arm injuries by slipping or tripping and falling on another individual’s property, you may be able to file a premises liability claim against the property owner and/or manager. If your arm injury occurred during an auto accident, you may file a claim against the at-fault party. If you suffered your injuries in a dog attack, the dog owner may be held liable. Sometimes, more than one party can be named in the injury lawsuit. An experienced New York personal injury lawyer will be able to help victims and their families pursue all potential options in order to secure maximum compensation for their losses.
What to Do When You Suffer an Injury
Whether you are injured on the job, in an auto accident or on someone else’s property, there are several steps you can take to ensure that your legal rights and best interests are protected:
- File a report. If you are injured in a car accident, file a police report and make sure your account of incident gets into the report. If you are injured in a slip-and-fall or trip-and-fall accident, file a report with the property owner or manager and retain a signed copy for your records. If you have been injured on the job, tell your immediate supervisor right away. Always obtain a copy of any injury report you file.
- Get as much evidence from the scene as possible such as photos of the dangerous condition and your injuries. Obtain contact information (name, address, phone number and e-mail address) for anyone who may have seen the incident that caused your injuries. Save items such as torn or bloody clothing and any oil or substance that is on your clothes. These are all important pieces of evidence that may help bolster your claim.
- Get prompt medical attention. By getting the help, care and treatment you need, you are maximizing your chances for a speedy and complete recovery. Seeing a doctor, getting the necessary diagnosis and treatment and following the treatment plan is critical.
- Document all your losses. Save all receipts relating to your injury. Keep track of emergency room costs, hospitalization expenses, surgeries, rehabilitation costs, number of days of work missed as a result of the injuries, etc. It is also a good idea to maintain a personal journal documenting activities you are unable to perform as a result of your injuries.
- Contact an experienced New York personal injury attorney right after the accident. This is the best thing you can do to help protect your legal rights. Do not talk to any insurance company or defense counsel or rush into any settlement agreement before you talk to your own lawyer.
Damages in Arm Injury Cases
Here are some of the damages that can be recovered through a personal injury claim:
- Medical expenses: This includes emergency room costs, expenses relating to hospitalization, surgery, medication, medical equipment, rehabilitation, etc.
- Lost wages and benefits: Those who suffer arm injuries often end up taking time off work to recover. Victims may need to take several weeks or months off to completely recover from their arm injuries. In such cases they can claim wages and any benefits that may have been lost such as medical insurance.
- Hospitalization: Hospital costs can add up very quickly and not all of it may be covered by medical insurance.
- Rehabilitative treatment: This is yet another area where patients end up spending significant amounts of money out of pocket. For example, medical insurance policies cover only a limited number of physical therapy or chiropractic sessions.
- Permanent injuries: This refers to injuries that may leave an individual permanently disabled. For example when a person is disfigured or scarred in a dog attack, that is a permanent injury. When a person suffers loss of function as a result of a limb amputation, that is a permanent injury as well.
- Disabilities: When an injury leaves an individual temporarily or permanently disabled.
- Loss of livelihood: This is when a person is unable to work or earn a living as a result of an arm injury.
- Past and future pain and suffering: This refers to the physical and emotional distress an individual suffers. This is categorized under non-economic damages.
Contacting an Experienced Lawyer
If you or a loved one has suffered an arm injury due to someone else’s negligence or fault, the experienced New York personal injury attorneys at the Law Offices of Kenneth A. Wilhelm can help you better understand your legal rights and options. Please contact us TOLL FREE 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-WORK-4-YOU (1-800-967-5496). WE CAN EVEN COME TO YOU. There is no attorneys’ fee unless we recover money for you. We can also help with personal injury cases in New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, or Florida. If you have been seriously injured in any of the 50 U.S. states, please call us and we will try to help you with your case. We have recovered many, many millions of dollars for our clients.
Other TOLL FREE phone numbers for us are:
1-800-RADIO-LAW, 1-888-WYPADEK, OR 1-800-LAS-LEYES
Please visit us at: www.WORK4YOULAW.com