The leg is comprised of three bones. The femur, the largest bone in the human body, runs from the hip to the knee through the thigh. The lower leg is supported by two bones, the tibia and the smaller fibula. Additionally, the kneecap is comprised of a flat, triangular bone called the patella.
Broken leg injuries are a frequent cause for visits to the emergency room. Femur fractures in particular are dangerous and can be fatal due to a high volume of blood loss. Broken legs can have lasting physical and psychological impacts, such as PTSD and osteoarthritis. Severe injuries can result in disability, affecting a victim’s long-term ability to work and quality of life.
Worldwide, the most common injuries from motor vehicle accidents and falls are fractures of the patella, tibia, fibula, and ankle. This category of injury is a leading cause of disability resulting from car accidents and falls.
Our personal injury lawyers have handled many broken leg injury claims over the years. Below, our attorneys discuss the value of broken leg claims and provide sample verdicts and settlement amounts as well as recent medical research.Value of Broken Leg Injury Claims
A common question that accident victims ask is, how much is my injury claim worth? The economic and non-economic damages awarded for broken leg bone injury claims vary depending upon the type of break.
For example, for a fibula or tibia fracture, the median recovery is approximately $85,000. Not surprisingly, that number more than doubles to $167,000 for a femur fracture, a far more serious injury. For multiple fracture or comminuted cases, when there is more than one fracture or the bone splinters into multiple fragments, the median verdict rises to $193,000.
The award amount for femur or comminuted fractures is not always higher than other fractures, however. A major factor when determining the value of the case is how the broken bone has affected and will continue to affect the broken leg injury victim. Did the victim lose time at work? Do they suffer from chronic pain? Is there scarring?
“The value of broken leg injury claims depends on the type of fracture and the effect of the fracture on the patient’s health and ability.”
For example, tibia fractures in the lower third of the bone are particularly troubling for adults. After the body has finished growing, blood supply to the tibia slows, making it difficult to keep the bone straight during the healing process. Additionally, certain fractures, such as tibial plateau fractures, put victims at a high risk of muscle and nerve damage.
Another important factor is the cost of the medical treatment that the victim has received and will need in the future. For example, did the patient require extensive surgery? How big was their emergency room bill? Do they go to physical therapy?
Medical malpractice also is a cause of greater injuries in these cases. Often, the failure to realize the need for immediate surgery causes the injury to become more severe and leads to a permanent injury that should not have been permanent. Yes, this can be a medical malpractice case. But, in Maryland, a doctor's committing medical malpractice can also be claimed in the accident case itself.
Finally, how did the injury happen? Using car accidents as an example, the median value for pedestrians is $125,000, and for passengers is $ 97,300. The median case value in a truck accident is greater at $160,500.
If you sustained a broken leg injury in a fall accident, car accident, or workplace accident, our personal injury lawyers may be able to help you. To discuss your case with our legal team at no charge, call (800) 553-8082 or fill out our online form.
- 2020, Virginia: $1,250,000 Verdict - A woman was struck head-on. This is not a surprise. A near majority of the broken leg cases our law firm has handled in Maryland are head-on collusions. In this case, the victim suffers a leg fracture along with rib, arm, and hand fractures. She alleged that the other driver’s negligence caused her injuries. The woman claimed he fell asleep before striking her vehicle. This case settled for $1,250,000.
- 2020, Alabama: $250,000 Verdict - The plaintiff, a pedestrian, is jogging alongside a roadway and is struck by a car. He suffers a fractured fibula, dislocated knee, and torn ligaments, and undergoes multiple surgeries to repair his injuries. The plaintiff sues his own insurance carrier, State Farm, claiming that the defendant’s insurance policy limits were not enough to cover his damages. State Farm argues that since the man was jogging at twilight, he was contributorily negligent. A jury awards the plaintiff $250,000 for his pain and suffering. The jury verdict is reduced to $75,000 due to setoffs from his previous settlement with the defendant.
- 2020, Texas: $775,000 Settlement - A 60-something man fell in a convenience store. He suffered a displaced right femur fracture. The man underwent a total knee replacement revision procedure. Within two years, the man suffered three additional falls. He underwent revision surgery and physical therapy after each one. Because of his injuries, the man now used a walker. He was also designated as a fall risk. The man alleged that the convenience store’s failure to maintain safe premises caused his permanent injuries. This same case is unlikely to settle for $775,000 in Maryland. Why? Maryland has contributory negligence which is a much harder bar to climb than the comparative negligence standard in Texas. In Maryland, if you are 1% responsible for your own injuries, you cannot recover.
- 2020, New York: $9,000,000 Settlement - A woman was struck by an intoxicated driver. She suffered left foot, left fibula, left tibia, right sacrum, pelvis, and bilateral wrist fractures. The woman also suffered a lumbar disc bulge. She underwent multiple surgeries and painkilling injections. The woman claimed permanent residual pain throughout her body. The woman alleged that the other driver’s negligence caused her severe injuries. She claimed he drank 16 alcoholic beverages before driving. This case settled for $9,000,000.
- 2020, Missouri: $850,000 Settlement - A man collided with a tractor-trailer on Route 65. He suffered right femur, cervical, and lumbar fractures. The man underwent leg surgery, which involved replacing damaged hardware. His medical expert testified that he required a future total knee replacement. This case settled for $850,000.
- 2019, Maryland: $2,458,000 Verdict - A truck driver makes a left turn into a parking lot, cutting off an oncoming motorcyclist traveling in the opposite direction. The motorcycle crashes into the side of the truck. The plaintiff, an adult male, fractures his right femur and tibia, resulting in nerve damage. Even after surgery and physical therapy, he is left with permanent loss of feeling in his foot and an impairment rating of 46%. The jury awards almost $2.5 million to compensate the plaintiff for his pain and suffering and past wages.
- 2019, Maryland: $80,000 Verdict - A woman walking on a Baltimore City sidewalk fractures her right fibula when she gets her foot caught in a hole in the sidewalk. The plaintiff alleged that the hole had been there since 2011 and that it was concealed by grass. The defendant, Mayor & City Council of Baltimore City, disputed negligence and the facts of the case. The jury finds with the plaintiff, awarding her $80,000.
- 2019, New York: $25,000 Settlement - A mother is driving with her infant as a passenger when she gets into a car accident. The infant suffers a right tibia-fibula compound fracture. The plaintiff files a claim on her child’s behalf, and settles with the insurance company, State Farm, for $25K. The money will be held in an account for the infant’s benefit.
- 2019, New York: $300,000 Settlement - A young boy is crossing the street in New York City when he is struck by a vehicle. He suffers an oblique spiral compound fracture of his left tibia and fibula. The boy’s parents make a settlement with the GEICO, who insures both the injured party and the at-fault driver. The at-fault driver’s insurance covers $100,000 and the remaining $200,000 is covered by their underinsured motorist insurance.
- 2019, Alabama: $30,000 Settlement - In this premises liability case, a mother sues a trampoline park for an injury her son sustained while using the trampolines. The boy fractured his left tibia and fibula. The defendant denies liability but settles with the plaintiff in the amount of $30K.
- 2018, Nevada: $306,000 Verdict - A minor suffers an open right femur fracture, requiring surgery and causing permanent scarring, in an accident when he and a family member attempt to hitch a trailer to a pickup truck. The minor’s mother files a claim against the family member. The minor alleges that the family member was negligent, and the family member’s insurance company offers to settle for $306K.
- 2016, Maryland: $375,000 Verdict - A 37-year-old woman is hit in an "unmarked" crosswalk on Georgia Avenue in Montgomery County. She suffers left displaced tibia and fibula fractures and a left ankle injury. The bones are repaired with hardware. She has a noticeable 5-inch surgical scar down the center of her knee. The defendant vigorously contests liability, claiming that the plaintiff walked out into the middle of the road without looking. The defendant had a $500,000 policy with their insurance company, Amica.
- 2016, Washington: $ 1,000,000 Settlement - A 60-year-old man driving a Smart Car hit an overturned dump truck in the middle of the roadway. He claims that the overturned truck did not provide flares or other warnings to motorists. However, a neighbor who witnessed the accident claimed that he was speeding and that the truck’s taillights were illuminated. The man fractured his tibia in the car accident and contracted MRSA, resulting in more than $425,000 in medical bills.
The average settlement value for a fibula or tibia fracture in a personal injury lawsuit is around $70,000 to $90,000. Femur fractures get twice as much compensation with an average settlement value of $150,000 to $175,000. The most serious broken leg cases (those involving multiple fractures or bone splinters) can have a settlement value of $300,000 or more.
Three primary factors drive the settlement value of broken legs in personal injury cases: (1) the type and location of the fracture, (2) how the broken leg impacts the victim's life, and (3) which bone (femur, tibia, or fibula) is fractured.
No. Broken leg injuries can be identified on a simple x-ray so they are easy to prove in a lawsuit. The settlement value of a fractured leg is on far more solid ground than many other injuries because there is such a clean and objective way to demonstrate injury.
Prevalence of posttraumatic stress disorder in acute trauma patients by Noah Joseph et al., OTA International, March 2020.
Post-traumatic stress disorder does not just affect soldiers—many people who have experienced emotional or physical trauma suffer from PTSD. This includes those who have suffered severe bodily injuries. Researchers in this study were interested in the prevalence and risk factors of PTSD in trauma patients. They looked at 400 patients in a US facility and found that 26% of trauma patients—one in four—tested positive for PTSD shortly after their injury. Interestingly, while the severity of the injury did not make people more or less likely to have PTSD, being struck by a car as a pedestrian was among the predictive factors.
Age-based differences in the disability of extremity injuries in pediatric and adult occupants by Michaela Gaffley et al., Traffic Injury Prevention, September 2019.
The study aimed to compare motor vehicle accident injuries of the arms and legs in children and adults. Specifically, researchers wanted to know if age affected the likelihood that these injuries would result in a disability. Using the National Trauma Data Bank–Research Data System, they found that older adults were significantly more likely to be disabled from these injuries. Children’s bodies, the researchers explain, have a greater capacity to heal bones. Also, researchers found that disability was more common than death with these injuries and that impaired ability to move the extremities was the most common disability.
Predictors of Peripheral Vascular Injury in Patients with Blunt Lower Extremity Fractures by Lobsang Marcia and Dennis King, Annals of Vascular Surgery, May 2019.
In order to prevent interrupted blood flow and amputation after trauma to the legs, doctors must quickly identify damage to the veins. In this study, researchers identify risk factors for vascular injury to help emergency room doctors and orthopedic surgeons treating broken legs know when they should be double-checking for interrupted blood flow. By looking at leg injury victims over two years at a hospital, the authors found vascular injuries are more likely to be present with open tibia-fibula fractures, especially those located in the mid-shaft.
Incidence of Lower‐Extremity Fractures in US Nursing Homes by Kathryn Sine et al., Journal of the American Geriatric Society, February 2019.
Researchers were interested in the rate of lower-extremity fractures in nursing homes. These injuries can prove fatal in an elderly population. Looking at Medicare-enrolled nursing home residents over a year-long period, the authors compared leg fractures to hip fractures, a more commonly discussed problem for elderly people. They discovered that those who broke their legs were more likely to be immobile, dependent, overweight, and diabetic. Simply put, severely functionally impaired individuals are at a higher risk, suggesting the need for better strategies to prevent these injuries in these patients.
Effects of passenger car front profile and human factors on pedestrian lower extremity injury risk using German in-depth accident data by Bingyu Wang et al., International Journal of Crashworthiness, January 2018.
The authors of this study used accident data to better understand how the engineering of a vehicle, impact speed, and the age and weight of the victim affects the likelihood of a lower-extremity injury in a pedestrian crash. The author’s main takeaway was that higher speed collisions and bigger cars led to a higher likelihood that the pedestrian would suffer a lower-extremity injury.
If you or a loved one was injured due to someone’s negligence, you have a legal right to compensation. The Maryland personal injury attorneys at Miller & Zois handle serious car accident, workers’ compensation, and premises liability personal injury cases. To get a free consultation about your personal injury or wrongful death claim, call (800) 553-8082 or fill out our online form.More Information