How much compensation should you expect for your hand, wrist, or finger injury personal injury claim? There is no settlement calculator where you punch in numbers and it spits out a payout amount. The value depends on the type of injury and its severity.
The hand is an incredibly complex body part. It is a fine-tuned piece of engineering that allows us to do everything from playing the violin to constructing buildings. Together, the hand and wrist have an astonishing 27 bones. Injuries to the hand and wrist can result in permanent disability, particularly if the injury is to the dominant hand.
The hand is one of the most commonly injured body parts in workplaces. Except for back injuries, hand injuries are the most common type of nonfatal injury that caused injured workers and other victims to take time off from work. Trigger finger is an extremely common on-the-job injury.
Personal injury lawsuits, which is our focus, involve the hand, wrist, and fingers that our lawyers most frequently see in car accidents.
According to national data, the average jury verdict in finger and hand injuries is approximately $630,000. The median verdict is approximately $70,000. This big gap tells us that some severe, life-altering hand injury cases have extremely high values but many smaller cases are not as debilitating.
Our lawyers have handled a large number of serious injury cases involving hands and wrists. These types of hand injuries are likely to have higher compensation payouts and tend to settle before or during litigation than going all the way to a verdict:
- Scaphoid bone fractures: A small bone in the wrist, the scaphoid is difficult to heal. This is because the blood supply to the bone may become cut off, resulting in cell death and potentially arthritis.
- Scapholunate ligament injury: The scapholunate ligament is a critical stabilizer of the scaphoid and lunate carpal bones. Permanent injuries drive settlement value, as these injuries can leave victims with reduced grip strength and arthritis.
- Bone graft: If the fracture does not heal properly and a bone graft is required, long-term prospects for that hand are usually not very good.
- Internal Fixation: A metal plate or other hardware in the hand or wrist is usually a harbinger of a less than optimal outcome.
- Severe Impact: Plaintiffs' lawyers sometimes pretend the severity of the crash has nothing to do with the injury to the occupants. This is not the case in hand and wrist fracture cases. Higher energy injuries do more damage to the bone and soft tissues around the bone and are more likely to have nonunion than a low-energy fracture that might occur from a fall.
- Nerve Injury: Trauma like a car accident can cause injury to the nerves that carry signals to and from the brain. Nerve damage from a hand or wrist injury will cause impaired movement and sensation, and also pain. Our accident lawyers see many cases of peripheral neuropathy from car accidents. Good settlement amounts for nerve damage in the hand cases often require a lawsuit before the insurance company offers fair settlement compensation.
- Stitches are the lowest settlement amount driver on this list. But, all things being equal, stitches increase the settlement value of a hand or finger injury claim.
Some hand, wrist, and finger injuries are severe and require intensive medical care that ends up costing victims a lot of money. However, the medical care costs in many hand, wrist, and finger injury cases are often lower than with other injuries.
Many of these surgeries are quick and easy compared to, for example, back surgery. But the cost of surgery does not indicate how much pain or impairment a victim suffers. The patient may undergo a low-cost surgery and be left with a hand that doesn’t properly function or causes pain, affecting their ability to work and their quality of life.
Our accident lawyers know from experience that insurance companies in hand injury cases want to use a multiplier of the medical bills to determine the settlement value. But this is the wrong way to determine how much compensation your hand injury is worth because the pain and suffering damages dwarf the medical bills in most of these cases.
“These injuries are often high on pain and suffering yet low on medical costs.”
Sometimes jurors buy into the insurance company's argument. They see low medical bills, they wonder how bad the plaintiff’s injury could be. There is an argument to be made many verdicts would have been higher if plaintiffs had not asked for medical bills.
What is the solution to this problem? Take the medical bills out of the equation when you ask the jury for compensation.
Often, our attorneys will not ask the jury for payment of the medical bills. Jurors often correctly assume medical bills are covered by insurance. Not introducing the medical bills helps focus the jurors on the real harm in the case: what the victim has endured.
This often leads the jury to a much higher compensation payout. Just as importantly, this tactic can often scare insurance companies into making a significant increase in their settlement offer before trial.
Below is a list of verdicts and settlements in hand injury cases, intended to give you a better idea of the value range of these cases. Some of these verdicts are Miller & Zois verdicts while others were handled by other lawyers in Maryland and around the country.
These are just a sampling of verdicts and it is difficult to compare any one case, given the multitude of factors that affect a case’s value and success. However, the hope is that this gives you a better idea of the potential trial and settlement value of hand injury claims.Maryland Verdicts and Settlements
- 2021, Baltimore City: $18,314 Verdict. A woman was struck by a vehicle that pulled from a side street. The impact pushed her into a parked vehicle. She suffered righthand ligament damage, spinal strains, and a sprained shoulder. The woman now experienced panic attacks. She alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. The woman claimed she failed to yield the right-of-way, control her vehicle, and avoid a collision. A Baltimore City jury awarded $18,314.
- 2021, Prince George’s County: $56,582 Verdict. A 33-year-old woman was T-boned at an intersection in Beltsville. She fractured her left wrist. The woman also suffered the exacerbation of her pre-existing cervical sprain. The woman underwent a year of chiropractic care and physical therapy. She also wore a cast for several months. The woman alleged that the at-fault driver’s failure to yield the right-of-way at an intersection caused her injuries. She received $56,582.
- 2021, Baltimore City: $30,000 Verdict. A 48-year-old man was sideswiped on Pulaski Highway. He went off-road and hit a pole. The man suffered sprains and strains to his spine, left hand, and left knee. He sought physical therapy. The man used a heating pad, back support, and a neck brace. He alleged that the at-fault driver’s illegal lane change caused his injuries. The Baltimore City jury awarded $30,000.
- 2021, Baltimore City: $5,012 Verdict. A 40-something woman was struck on her vehicle’s passenger side. She suffered right hand arthritis, carpal tunnel syndrome, and soft-tissue spinal injuries. The woman sought an orthopedist. Her spinal injuries resolved. However, the woman’s right-hand injuries did not. She experienced residual right hand swelling and soreness. The woman periodically wore a hand brace. She alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. The woman claimed he ran a stop sign and failed to yield at an intersection. A jury awarded $5,012.
- 2020, Allegany County: $38,000 Verdict. A 27-year-old man was sideswiped on Reisterstown Road. He suffered strains and sprains to his left wrist, lower back, and left knee. The man underwent physical therapy sessions and left wrist injections. He alleged that the at-fault driver’s negligent lane change caused his injuries. The man also made a UIM claim. He received a $38,000 verdict.
- 2021, Washington: $93,794 Verdict. A 58-year-old woman was T-boned at an intersection. She suffered a right distal joint fracture. The woman also sustained soft-tissue cervical and lumbar injuries. She alleged that the at-fault driver’s failure to yield the right-of-way caused her injuries. The woman received $93,794.
- 2021, Washington: $665,000 Settlement. A woman went bike riding with her husband. She struck an inconspicuously placed water berm. The woman suffered metacarpal shaft fractures, an injured left distal radial ulnar joint, a right eye socket fracture, a right cheekbone fracture, and a displaced right eye. She underwent three facial procedures. The woman suffered several MRSA infections. She sustained permanent right facial nerve pain, right eye light sensitivity, and facial disfigurements. The woman and her husband alleged negligence against the municipal government. She claimed it placed a hazardous obstruction and failed to place warning signs. This case settled for $665,000.
- 2021, Idaho: $175,000 Settlement. A woman was rear-ended. She fractured her left wrist and hand. She also suffered a concussion and soft-tissue left arm, right hip, and spinal injuries. The woman underwent multiple hand procedures. She alleged negligence against the at-fault driver. The woman claimed he unsafely operated his vehicle in snowy conditions and failed to avoid a collision. This case settled for $175,000.
- 2021, Alabama: $125,000 Settlement. A truck driver loaded furniture into a trailer in wet conditions. He fell backward. The man landed on his left arm and hand. He suffered a left hand fracture, unspecified left arm injuries, and soft-tissue right upper limb injuries. The man filed a workers’ compensation claim against his employer. He received a $125,000 settlement.
- 2021, Idaho: $194,003 Verdict. A man was a passenger in a rear-ended vehicle. He suffered ligament and nerve damage to both hands. The man also suffered a concussion and adrenal gland insufficiency. The man experienced difficulties with grip strength and swallowing. He also experienced rapid weight loss, abdominal pain, weakness, fatigue, post-traumatic stress disorder, and aggravated seizures. The man alleged that the at-fault driver’s negligent driving caused his injuries. The jury awarded $194,003.
Our lawyers have handled scores of hand injury cases on behalf of victims. These are some of the commonly asked questions about hand injury claims and their settlement value:
Most hand injury cases settle before trial. As we discussed above, the problem with hand injury claims from a settlement perspective is that claims adjusters are often wedded to using the amount of medical bills as an anchor for the settlement value. Hand injuries typically involve more pain and suffering than most other serious injuries but typically have far lower medical bills associated with the injury.
Before a case goes to trial, insurance companies and their lawyers tend to review these things more realistically which results in a pretrial settlement.
But our attorneys file suit in most serious hand injury cases because the pretrial offers for compensation are typically not reasonable. In these cases, litigation is the only option for victims seeking to maximize the value of their claim.
The hand injury claims with the highest average settlement value will be permanent injury cases. These are usually crush injuries where there is nonunion or malunion of a fracture (which is often from a delay in diagnosis of treatment).
But, again, the hand is complex. Sometimes small fractures do not heal and lead to lifetime complications. This is all the more true if the victim is already developing arthritis or nerve damage that puts the patient at an even greater high risk for developing contracture and stiffness years later.
Our lawyers' experience is that compartment syndrome also drives settlement compensation amounts higher. Similarly, we see meaningfully larger recoveries in hand injury claims that involve arterial and nerve injuries.
“Cost, profile, and postoperative resource use for surgically managed acute hand and wrist injuries with emergency department presentation” by Luke Steven Robinson et al., Journal of Hand Therapy, April 2020.
This study from Australia looked at the medical records of patients to calculate the cost burden of hand and wrist injuries in a particular health network. Researchers identified 226 patients whose treatment collectively cost $1,204,606. This underscores that beyond the pain and suffering that comes with preventable injuries, there is an economic cost to society as well. Injuries to the hand and wrist are typically preventable accidents, and present costs to the healthcare system and individuals.
“Global trends of hand and wrist trauma: a systematic analysis of fracture and digit amputation using the Global Burden of Disease 2017 Study” by Christopher Steven Crowe et al., Injury Prevention, March 2020.
Researchers in this study used data from the Global Burden of Disease Study, the most comprehensive study of injuries and diseases around the world. The authors begin by saying that though global mortality is decreasing, non-fatal injuries are on the rise. The study breaks down which regions of the world experience these injuries by type. This helps lawmakers and medical professionals better understand the problem and how to address it.
They also found:
- Injuries to the hand, they say, account for a significant amount of these injuries and can be debilitating, especially if not well treated.
- Hand and wrist injuries have slightly decreased over the last 27 years.
- Not surprisingly, males are more likely to get these injuries than women.
- Loss of a thumb is the greatest cause of hand-related permanent disability globally.
“The Acutely Injured Wrist” by Federico Bruno et al., Radiological Clinics of North America, 2019.
This article is an overview of wrist trauma written by experts. It discusses wrist soft tissue and bone injuries, as well as how they manifest in children with a focus on radiologic imaging. Images of wrist x-rays are included, allowing readers to visualize injuries.
Losing the use of your hand or having chronic pain is tough on the victim. The personal injury lawyers at Miller & Zois know that well because of our years of experience handling these cases.
Our attorneys fight to get our clients who have suffered severe hand injuries the money they deserve. Preferably by early settlement but we take these cases to trial when the insurance companies do not pay our clients what they should. Call us to discuss your auto accident, workers’ compensation, or another personal injury case at 800-553-8082 or get a free consultation online.More Information on Settlement Value of Personal Injury Cases