Wrist Fracture Verdicts and Settlements

image describing what a wrist injury is and why they are on the rise

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Metro Verdicts Monthly provides the median verdict and settlement value of wrist fracture cases over the last 22 years. The average settlement/verdict in Washington D.C. is $105,000. Maryland is less than half that: $50,000. The average settlement/verdict in a wrist fracture case in Virginia is $52,583.

Maryland jury verdicts in series personal injury cases are generally higher in the District of Columbia. Again, I don’t know the methodology of how MVM gets its numbers. If they rely on personal injury lawyers reporting that data – which I do not think they do – then that could possibly skew the data as could a lot of other things that only a statistician could find. Particularly since Metro Verdicts includes settlements in their statistics, it is hard not to suspect that data could be skewed.

The only way auto accident settlements (as opposed to malpractice settlements that have to be reported) get on the radar screen is if you call Metro Verdicts and tell them you settled a case. But there are few sources of verdict and settlement statistics in personal injury cases so it is hard not to find data like this interesting. I would love to see a jurisdiction comparison of Baltimore City and all the counties in Maryland.

Most wrist injuries we see are fractures.  A fracture is a broken bone.  Many of these cases are comminuted wrist fracture cases which means it is not one clean, bony fragment, but multiple fragments.  These cases are going to have a higher average settlement value.   Also, there is a greater injury settlement value is when there is a fracture that extends into the joint is called an intraarticular fracture.  Ultimately, the more serious and permanent the injury is the greater the value of the case.

Wrist Injuries on the Rise

There is no question that wrist injuries are on the rise?  Why?  Everyone has airbags now.  When airbags deploy, arms and wrists often go flying causing a much higher number of wrist injuries. This leads to fractures and other injuries to the wrist and the two forearm bones, the ulna, and radius.

As a result,  the conventional wisdom of hand positioning is changing.  Some now believe that this new risk means that the 10 and 2 o’clock arm position you learned in driver’s education should be moved to 9 and 3 o’clock.  I don’t know enough to offer an opinion on this because I have no idea if you are quicker in the 9 and 3 position.

What Is a Smith’s Fracture?

A Smith’s fracture is a distal radius fracture across the wrist while the wrist is in flexion.  Our lawyers see a lot of Smith’s fractures in slip and fall cases because this injury occurs commonly when people fall on a flexed wrist. I suffered a Smith’s fracture in the third-grade playing football.  This type of injury can also occur by forcefully striking an object with the wrist in a flexed position.  A Smith’s fracture is a fracture of the volar rim of the distal radius.  It is not a common distal radius fracture but we seem to have a lot of clients who have suffered this fracture (or I’m more in tune with it because I suffered the same fracture).

Sample Wrist Accident Verdicts

Our law firm has handled many wrist injury cases.  You can see some of our verdicts and settlements here.  But many of you are not interested in jury our verdicts in Maryland.  Below are more personal injury verdicts around the country with an eye towards better understanding the value of these cases. There is no wrist injury compensation calculator.  We have to read these tea leaves to better understand what the range of your wrist injury settlement might be.

wrist fractureBut please remember you cannot determine the value of your case by looking at other verdicts.   The result for one personal injury victim really does not predict another.  I promise.  So why post them at all?  They are helpful, with other tools, to better understand the range in which these cases might settle or a jury might award.  They are helpful in understanding settlement value as long as you understand their limitations.

  • 2020, Pennsylvania 2020: $165,000 Settlement: A woman worked at a chicken factory.  Her hand became caught in a chicken sexing machine.  (Let that digest for a second.) She sustained a crushed wrist and developed carpal tunnel syndrome. She required surgical intervention to repair the injuries. She sued the machine’s manufacturer and seller, alleging defective design that had a dangerous pinch point. The manufacturer denied allegations and contended that the machine was not defective. They also claimed that the plaintiff’s injuries fully healed.
  • 2019, California:  $21,496,420 Verdict:  This is a motorcycle accident cases.  The motorcyclist was hit when the at-fault drive veered over three lanes out of the high-occupancy vehicle lane.  Thank goodness there were witnesses.  One of the problems in statistically isolating wrist injury settlement amounts in cases like this is a fractured wrist usually travels with other severe injuries.  Rarely is the only injury a fractured wrist.  So cases like this inflate average wrist injury settlements.  This big award underscores this concern although there is no question the broken wrist was a big driver of the claim’s value to the jury. The pain and suffering from this wrist injury was obviously significant.  But it is more than a broken wrist that led to a $21 million verdict.  This personal injury victim sustained fractures to his right leg’s femur, his lumbar spine at L1, and his dominant hand and wrist. He was hospitalized for more than two weeks. While hospitalized, surgery was performed on his right femur and right wrist. He then had inpatient rehabilitation for two weeks. He claims that his ability to move and use his right hand and wrist is permanently limited. This includes a grip strength loss of 70 percent.  Of course, there is a huge emotional stress component to the claim.  He filed a lawsuit against both the driver and the driver’s employer (the deep pocket with no policy limit problem).  The jury gave an amazing award, one a victim could not get in Maryland because of our cap on non-economic damages.
  • 2020, New York: $55,000 Settlement: This is a classic snow and ice slip and fall accident. The plaintiff, a tenant, alleged her landlord inadequately cleared snow, which resulted in her slipping and falling. The plaintiff sustained a fracture to her dominant right wrist. This required a cast. She contended that she has permanent pain and restricted movement.  The case settled for $55,000 before it could go to trial. Snow and ice cases are tough so this was likely a compromise settlement that was far less than the full value of the injuries.
  • 2016, Florida: $150,000 Verdict: A woman who is seven months pregnant is hit broadside by a police officer who runs a stop sign.  She suffers a left wrist fracture.  Her hand surgeon inserted plates and screws to rebuild the hand. The defense argument in the case was a classic insurance company argument:  the wrist has entirely healed.  Plaintiff said she was still having a problem and, presumably, the plaintiff’s lawyer showed the jury an x-ray of what it looks like having that hardware permanently placed in your arm.
  • 2014, Pennsylvania: $86,000 Verdict: The plaintiff was walking when he stepped into an empty tree well. He landed on his right wrist and elbow, injuring them. He sued the property owner, claiming that they failed to fix the empty tree well, while they asserted that it was the city’s responsibility to do so, not theirs. The plaintiff’s injury required medical attention, including reconstructive surgery of the tendons in his wrist. The jury determined that he was partially responsible which reduced the “money in her pocket” award to $55,900 (comparative negligence in Pennsylvania).
  • 2014, Pennsylvania: $70,000 Verdict: Plaintiff was walking on a sidewalk with her elderly mother. She tripped on a raised piece of sidewalk and fell on her wrist. Her wrist was fractured, and she had to remain in a cast while it healed. She sued the property owners, alleging that the sidewalk was negligently maintained. She was awarded $70,000, which was then amended to $49,000 because the jury found the plaintiff was partially at fault.
  • 2014, Virginia: $185,000 Settlement: This is a car accident case. Plaintiff, age 30, was driving her car when she was hit head-on by another driver. The other driver admitted liability but objected to the damage amount.  Her injuries required surgical intervention to repair torn tissue in her wrist. The defendant made a common argument: the injury is preexisting. The battle in these cases is usually over what the victim’s prior medical records show.
  • 2013, Maryland: $120,000 Settlement: The plaintiff, 54, was walking in northeast Baltimore, when she tripped and fell on her wrist, leading to a fracture. She sued the City, claiming that a raised portion of the sidewalk caused the injury, but the City contended that they were not responsible for fixing it because it was minimally dangerous. On the day before trial, she settled for $120,000.
  • 2013, D.C: $42,000 Verdict: This is a motor vehicle accident claim.  The plaintiff was a 78-year-old woman, who was a passenger in her granddaughter’s car. Her granddaughter was involved in a crash when she turned out in front of a car. She sued both the granddaughter and the other driver, claiming that the other driver was signaling a left turn.  This is not uncommon.  Often the passenger sues both drivers in auto accident cases. The thinking is that almost certainly one is responsible.  This car accident victim suffered a fractured right wrist. The jury awarded her $42,000 against her granddaughter, but nothing against the other driver. This verdict may have been a little light because the jury would not be told that the granddaughter has insurance. Sometimes juries figure that out but sometimes they do not and worry about how much the at-fault driver has to pay.
  • 2013, North Carolina: $43,000 Settlement: The plaintiff’s car collided with the defendant’s when she turned out into an intersection. He complained of a wrist fracture and sued the defendant. She did not claim liability, however, she disputed that the injury was caused by this crash.  The defendant’s lawyer argued it came from a previous fracture. He settled for $43,000 after claiming $23,000 in medical damages.
  • 2010, Maryland: $50,813 Verdict: The plaintiff was driving home late at night when he struck a construction container left in the road by a construction company. He fractured his wrist because of the accident. The defense contended the nature and cause of injury.  The jury awarded $50,813.

One other interesting thing to note.  Most personal injury cases use medical expenses as a marker for injury.  So we say this claim gets around five times the medical expenses.  This kind of formula is always dangerous to use.  But it is particularly dangerous in wrist injury cases because the medical treatment in these cases is usually very low compared to the pain and suffering.  These cases rarely require great amounts of physical therapy that can quickly inflate medical bills. In fact, it is often wise not to ask the jury for medical expenses in wrist injury cases because of the fear that the jury might use the medical bills as an anchor for pain and suffering damages.

Hiring a Lawyer

I have handed a large number of wrist injury cases.  I know the medical experts in these cases, I know the defense experts, the insurance adjusters, and I know how to put these cases in the position to get the best financial compensation for you that we possibly can.  You also need a personal injury attorney who will fight for you.  I will fight for you and so will my law firm. If you need a lawyer, call Ron Miller at 800-5553-8082.  You can also get more information about your options and get a free case evaluation online here.

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