Falls are a silent, pervasive threat across the United States. Though most slip and fall research focuses on the elderly population, over 800,000 people go to the hospital annually for fall-related injuries. One common set of injuries from a fall is a broken wrist, hand or finger. The hand injury most often is the result of someone attempting to break the fall with the palm outstretched on the way down. Aside from age, there is no predictive factor for hand injury or fracture, although risks increase from osteoporosis and poor physical health. If you’ve recently suffered this kind of injury, contact a San Bernadino injury lawyer.
Dangerous Conditions Lead to Fall Injuries
Falls, in general, are more likely to occur in certain circumstances. Inclement weather – ice or rain, for example – can cause the ground to become slippery, increasing the chance of falling. Labor-intensive work environments are also more dangerous, particularly in places like warehouses or on construction sites. According to the CDC, one out of every five falls results in serious injury such as broken bones.
Hand and Wrist Fractures From Falling
It may seem less dangerous to injure a hand, wrist or finger compared to a rib or hip, but broken hands are severe complications which take a long time to heal and can have major impacts on a person’s life. While it is natural to extend the hands to break a fall, this is the primary reason that hand or wrist injuries occur. The hands, wrist and fingers have a number of small bones. A fracture in any of these tiny bones can be severe. Not only is it incredibly painful, it is very common for complications to arise during the healing process. It is these small bones which are most vulnerable during a fall.
One common wrist injury is a scaphoid fracture, where the scaphoid bone – one of the eight carpal bones forming the base of the wrist, just below the hands – is broken. This injury often occurs from collision to the palm of the hand – either during a fall, sports activity, or even motor vehicle accident. It is not always obvious that something has broken the scaphoid bone. Although there is often intense pain when moving the thumb or forefinger, the wrist won’t appear deformed during this type of injury and may require a doctor’s diagnosis.
The most common bone fracture in the United States is called a Colles’ fracture, and it involves the radius – the largest of the two forearm bones. Often known simply as a broken wrist, these injuries represent 10% of all bone injuries annually. The worst Colles’ fractures may see bones broken in multiple locations or sticking out of the skin. Surgery is only rarely necessary, but the healing process is long and requires immobilization, meaning the injured arm is unusable for the duration of the time to heal.
Because they are so small, finger bones are easier to break than other parts of the body. Despite their size, they are also severe injuries that can put a hand out of commission for months at a time. Depending on the severity of the fracture, a finger injury may require a splint for up to three weeks.
Complications and Compensation for Falling on Hands
Injuries to the hands, wrists or fingers often require months of rest and recovery. Depending on the injured party’s circumstances, this may mean a short-term loss of wages and income. If the injury occurred in the workplace, it may be possible to receive workers’ compensation for the fracture, depending on the circumstances that led to the fall.
Regardless of the situation, a hand injury – though small in size – has huge implications. Complications from injuries to small bones, such as scaphoid fractures, often occur during the healing process. Small bones do not heal as easily as larger ones, and this may result in longer recovery time or even require surgery. If your fall occurred because of someone else’s negligence, contact an Orange County personal injury lawyer to see how they can help you get compensation for your hand or wrist injury.