Fractures and broken bones can be serious injuries on the job. Not only are they painful, but depending on their severity, they can also result in long-lasting consequences to your health, work performance and more.
Many Alabama workers will experience a fracture or broken bone over the course of their work, so it’s crucial to understand your right to workers’ compensation benefits, as well as the steps you need to take to get maximum compensation for your claim.
Different types of broken bones and bone fractures
There are several types of fractures, and they can have different symptoms, treatments and recovery times. Below are some of the most common types of bone fractures experienced at work.
A simple fracture, also known as a closed fracture, is a type of bone fracture where the bone breaks but does not puncture the skin. The broken bone remains within the body, and there is no external wound or damage to the surrounding tissues.
Simple fractures can occur in any bone but are most commonly seen in the long bones of the arms and legs. They can be caused by a variety of factors, including falls, sports injuries and motor vehicle accidents.
Treatment typically involves immobilization of the affected limb with a cast, splint or brace to allow the bone to heal properly. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to realign the bone and stabilize it with plates, screws or pins. Physical therapy may also be needed to help restore strength and function to the affected limb after the bone has healed.
An oblique fracture is a type of bone fracture where the break occurs at an angle diagonal to the long axis of the bone. It’s often the result of a twisting or bending force on the bone, which causes it to fracture at an oblique angle rather than a straight line.
Oblique fractures are most commonly seen in long bones such as the femur, tibia and humerus. The severity of an oblique fracture can vary depending on the angle and location of the break, but they are generally considered more serious than transverse or linear fractures.
Treatment for oblique fractures typically involves immobilization of the affected limb with a cast or brace to allow the bone to heal properly. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to realign the bone and stabilize it with plates, screws or pins. Physical therapy may also be needed to help restore strength and function to the affected limb after the bone has healed.
An open fracture, also known as a compound fracture, is a type of bone fracture where the broken bone penetrates the skin and is exposed to the external environment. This can lead to a higher risk of infection and other complications.
Open fractures are often the result of high-energy injuries, such as falls, vehicle accidents or sports injuries. They can be classified into 3 categories based on the severity of the injury:
- Type 1. The skin is punctured by the bone, but the wound is less than 1 cm in size, and there is minimal soft tissue damage.
- Type 2. The skin and soft tissues are more extensively damaged, but the wound is still less than 10 cm in size, and there is no significant loss of tissue.
- Type 3. The skin and soft tissues are extensively damaged, and there may be a significant loss of tissue. Type 3 fractures are further classified into subtypes based on the severity of the soft tissue injury.
Treatment for open fractures typically involves immediate medical attention to clean and cover the wound and prevent infection. The bone may need to be stabilized with surgery, and the affected limb may need to be immobilized with a cast or brace to allow the bone to heal properly. Physical therapy may also be needed to help restore strength and function to the affected limb after the bone has healed.
A comminuted fracture is a type of bone fracture where the bone is broken into several pieces or fragments. This can occur when a bone is subjected to a significant impact, such as a fall from a great height or a motor vehicle accident.
Comminuted fractures are most commonly seen in the long bones of the arms and legs. The severity of a comminuted fracture can vary depending on the number and size of the bone fragments and the location of the fracture.
Treatment for comminuted fractures typically involves immobilization of the affected limb with a cast, splint or brace to allow the bone to heal properly. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to realign the bone fragments and stabilize the bone with plates, screws or rods. Physical therapy may also be needed to help restore strength and function to the affected limb after the bone has healed.
A transverse fracture is a type of bone fracture where the break occurs in a straight line across the bone, perpendicular to the long axis of the bone. It typically happens when there is a direct blow to the bone, such as in a slip-and-fall accident or a car accident.
Transverse fractures are commonly seen in long bones, such as the femur, tibia and humerus, and can be either complete, where the bone is completely broken into 2 pieces, or incomplete, where the bone is cracked but still partially intact.
Treatment for transverse fractures typically involves immobilization of the affected limb with a cast, splint or surgery in severe cases, and physical therapy to promote healing and restore function after the bone has healed.
A stress fracture is a small crack or hairline fracture that develops in a bone due to repeated stress or overuse. Stress fractures can occur in any bone but are most commonly found in the weight-bearing bones of the lower leg and foot, such as the tibia, metatarsals and calcaneus. They may also occur in the bones of the spine, pelvis and upper extremities.
Treatment typically involves rest, immobilization with a cast or brace, and a gradual return to activity once the bone has healed. In some cases, surgery may be necessary to stabilize the bone and promote healing.
Symptoms of broken bones and bone fractures
Sometimes, you can immediately hear or feel when you’ve fractured a bone. Other times, especially with a smaller fracture, the symptoms might sneak up on you. Here are some of the red flags to watch out for:
- Inability to move or bend the affected limb
- A raised bump at the fracture site
Recovery time for bone fractures
The average healing time for a bone fracture will depend on factors like where it is, what type it is, and how badly it’s been broken. A simple fracture might mend in 6 to 8 weeks. A compound or open fracture might leave you unable to work for 5 months or more.
Jobs that commonly result in fractures and broken bones
While anyone could experience a fracture at work, someone working in construction is much more likely to break a bone than someone working in an office. Here are a few industries where fractures are the most common. As you can see, they tend to be highly physical jobs with a lot of movement:
- Factory and manufacturing
- Transportation (especially truck drivers, delivery drivers, taxi drivers and rideshare drivers)
- Agriculture and farming
- Landscaping and tree trimming
- Emergency response (especially EMTs, ambulance drivers, police officers and firefighters)
It’s important to note, however, that employees from all industries can suffer fractures, and even office workers can seek damages for them as long as they occur at work.
Common causes of broken bones at work
Medical emergencies come in all shapes and sizes, and they can be the result of many different mishaps on the job. Here are just a few ways that people get injured at work with fractures:
- Forklift accidents
- Crush incidents
- Getting caught in machinery
Workers’ compensation in Alabama
If you’ve suffered a fracture while on the job, you might be able to file a workers’ compensation claim.
Workers’ comp is a type of insurance required by almost all employers in Alabama with 5 or more employees. It can pay for things like medical bills, lost wages, and more.
However, there are eligibility requirements for those seeking workers’ comp. For example, the injury must have occurred while you were fulfilling work duties, and it must have happened while you were still actively employed by your place of business.
There are also employers that are exempt from providing workers’ comp insurance, including farms, so be sure to double-check your eligibility before filing your claim.
Workers’ comp is a no-fault system
Workers’ compensation is a no-fault system, meaning that no one has to be at fault for your accident for you to be compensated. In other words, you don’t have to assign blame for your fracture. No one has to be proven negligent. It can just be an unfortunate accident.
Workers’ compensation benefits
There are several types of benefits, or “damages,” that are available to employees who are injured on the job in Alabama. These include but aren’t limited to:
- Medical care, including treatment, medication, rehabilitation and assistive devices.
- Lost wages, including a potential loss of future income for permanent disabilities. (This amount is typically two-thirds of the worker’s average weekly wage.)
- Death benefits, including funeral expenses and lost income for dependents, if a worker dies from their injury.
In the case of a bone fracture, workers’ comp might pay for things like surgery, medications, crutches, casts, slings and occupational therapy costs.
Steps to filing a workers’ compensation claim in Alabama
As an employee in Alabama, you should follow these steps to apply for workers’ comp:
- Seek medical attention. Except for emergencies, you will be required to see a physician in your employer’s insurance network.
- Report the accident to your employer. This should be done within 5 days in writing. In some instances, you may have up to 90 days, but failure to report your injury to your employer within this timeframe will typically result in your benefits being denied.
- Wait for your employer to file the necessary paperwork. Your employer is required to file a First Report of Injury form after being notified of your injury to start the workers’ comp claim process.
- Receive approval or denial of your claim. Your employer’s insurer will review your claim and issue a decision about benefits.
- Contact an attorney. Reach out to an attorney to learn more about your rights if your claim is denied or you have questions about the amount of compensation you should be entitled to.
As you can see, it’s something of a collaborative process with your employer. For example, you don’t file the injury report to the insurance company; your employer does. It’s their insurance company, so they’re the ones responsible for contacting them.
Contact an Alabama work injury attorney
It’s never fun to break a bone, but the good news is that you might be entitled to compensation if it happens at work. If you’ve been hurt on the job, consider contacting a workers’ compensation attorney for help with your claim. A workers’ comp attorney can help you with organizing the paperwork, filing the claim, negotiating with the insurance company, and arranging for the implementation of your benefits.
If you experience a fracture at work or any other kind of work-related injury or illness, contact the experienced workers’ compensation attorneys at Nomberg Law Firm. Our attorneys have extensive experience fighting for injured Alabama workers to get them the money they deserve. Let us handle the negotiations with your employer and their insurer so you can focus on healing.
Contact us today for your free, no-obligation consultation.