Posted on behalf of Stephens, Anderson & Cummings on May 10, 2017 in Auto Accidents
Many people do not associate hand and wrist injuries with car accidents, but the hands and wrists are some of the most commonly injured body parts in motor vehicle crashes.
There are many ways your hands and wrists can be damaged in a car accident. For instance, in the seconds before the crash, or even while the crash is occurring, you might brace your hands against the side or ceiling of your car. This puts intense pressure on the bones, tendons and ligaments in your hands and wrists.
Some people throw their hands up during the collision, which can cause their hands or wrists to crash into the airbag, dashboard, window, steering wheel, or other objects or parts of the interior of the vehicle.
If you grip the inside of the steering wheel rather than the outside and the wheel spins or twists in a crash, your hands could get caught and violently spun around the wheel.
Common Hand and Wrist Injuries
Car accidents can cause a wide variety of hand and wrist injuries, from bruises and puncture wounds to damage to bones, ligaments and tendons.
Each of your wrists and hands contain 27 bones, 13 that start in your wrist and extend into your palms and 14 in your fingers and thumbs. These bones are delicate and have a higher risk of being fractured or crushed from blunt trauma, which often occurs in car crashes.
Fractures in the wrists and hands often occur when these body parts hit things in the car, such as the steering wheel, air bag or windshield.
Some of the most common types of fractures from car accidents include:
- Fractured or broken wrists
- Crushed hands
- Fractured knuckles
- Broken fingers
This is one of the more common types of wrist fractures. It is named for the scaphoid bone, which is the smallest bone in your wrist with the highest risk of breaking in a motor vehicle crash.
Wrist injuries are divided into three categories based on severity. A wrist sprain is a grade one injury because it is the least severe. It occurs when the ligaments connecting the bones in the wrist are stretched but not torn.
Sprains often happen when ligaments are forcefully bent or hyperextended, which can occur during a car crash.
A grade two injury occurs when the ligaments are partially torn. Victims of these injuries may end up losing some function in their hand.
A grade three injury occurs when the ligaments are completely torn. These injuries are often accompanied by a joint fracture. Victims need surgery immediately to treat these injuries, otherwise they may develop chronic instability and debilitating arthritis.
Joints allow the bones in your hands to move. A dislocated joint is a painful injury that can result in permanent damage if it is not treated right away.
Damage to Tendons
Tendons connect your muscles to your bones. Blunt trauma from a car accident can result in inflammation of the tendons, also known as tendonitis. This can cause mild to severe pain in your wrist joints.
Symptoms of a Hand or Wrist Injury
If you were involved in a car crash and notice any of these symptoms in your wrists or hands, you may have an injury that requires medical treatment:
- Difficulty flexing or straightening your wrists or fingers
You should always seek medical treatment immediately, no matter how mild your symptoms are. Some wrist injuries cause minor symptoms that get progressively worse over time, particularly if the injury is not treated immediately.
Doctors can run tests, including x-rays and MRI scans, to determine the true extent of your hand and wrist injuries. This helps them to determine all of the treatments you need so you can make the best recovery possible, given your diagnosis.
Treating Your Injury
In some cases, you will simply need to put ice on the injury and keep it elevated to allow it to heal over time. In other cases, you will need to immobilize the injury with a splint or keep it in a cast for weeks or months.
However, if you have a severe injury, you may need multiple surgeries and months of rehabilitation. Unfortunately, the longer your treatment lasts, the more expensive it becomes.
A severe injury will also make everyday life much more difficult because you use your wrists and hands for so many tasks each day, from dressing, showering and grooming to eating, driving and typing.
Your injury could also make it more difficult to do your job, particularly if you do manual or skilled labor or jobs where you do a lot of typing. In some cases, you will have to work fewer hours and in others you will not be able to work at all.
Contacting a Skilled Lawyer
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that you will ever make a full recovery. You could end up with chronic pain and mobility limitations in your wrist or hand.
This is why you should contact a personal injury attorney after suffering a wrist injury in a car crash. If the accident was caused by the other driver, you may be entitled to compensation for your medical expenses, lost wages, lost earning capacity, and pain and suffering.
Compensation cannot change what happened but it can help you manage daily life with your physical limitations. It will also allow you to try to move forward with your life.
The car accident attorneys at Stephens, Anderson & Cummings can review your claim in a free legal consultation and inform you of all of your options. If you have a case and decide to proceed, we will thoroughly investigate the accident to ensure your injury claim is valued accurately.