- When a car accident occurs, drivers often react to the impending collision by firmly gripping onto the steering wheel. The impact along with airbag deployment often lead to hand and wrist injuries.
- A serious injury to the wrists or hands can result in a large injury settlement because being unable to use these body parts can significantly impact a person’s quality of life.
- An experienced car accident lawyer can often make a powerful argument to an insurance company that the true value of a hand or wrist injury is quite high.
When a person first recognizes an impending car accident collision, their first—and often involuntary—reaction is to grip the steering wheel firmly. But once the impact occurs, the hands and wrists bear the brunt of the force and exploding airbag. This tremendous jolting can leave these body parts badly injured.
Insurance companies often like to ignore injuries to the hands and wrists because they are not typically life-threatening. However, being unable to use these body parts can severely impact your abilities and quality of life.
Here’s what you should know if you’ve suffered a hand or wrist injury in a car accident.
We Use Our Hands and Wrists for Everything
The hands and wrists contain some of the most complex joints in the human body. These joints make it possible for our hands to accomplish the many intricate movements they are capable of. Injuries to these joints can make everyday movements and activities difficult or impossible. Hand and wrist injuries may require a long and difficult recovery, which often means limited or no function for an extended time.
When the hand and wrist are injured, it can mean plenty of unwelcome lifestyle changes. Perhaps you can no longer drive, work, or even care for your family.
When your injury means that your lifestyle must be altered, these unwanted changes can and should be compensated for as part of your accident settlement. An experienced personal injury lawyer can ensure that these lifestyle changes don’t get forgotten about or brushed off by the insurance company.
Common Hand and Wrist Injuries Following a Car Accident
- Finger fractures: Breaks to the bones in the phalanges or phalanx (the finger bones).
- Metacarpal fractures: Breaks to the bones located in the flat part of the hand between the fingers and the wrist. These bones are called metacarpal bones.
- Finger dislocation: A dislocation, or separation of the bones at the joint, can happen when a finger is hyperextended, which means forced forward or backward further than it is meant to move naturally.
- Ligament or tendon damage to the hand: A ligament that is stretched too far can result in a painful sprain or tear.
- Chemical burns: The mechanics of airbags include explosive chemical reactions that can cause serious burns as well as impact injuries.
A car accident can also cause damage to the bones, ligaments, or tendons within the wrist. Common wrist injuries include:
- Carpal bone fractures: The bones of the wrist that connect inside the palm of the hand are called carpal bones. The most common wrist fracture, a scaphoid fracture, results from a forceful impact upon the palm. (When we anticipate an impact, we instinctively try to lessen the blow by protectively thrusting out our arms and hands—this action often results in scaphoid fractures.)
- Distal radius fracture: This fracture happens where the long bone of the arm (the radius) meets the wrist joint (the distal radius).
- Wrist sprains: The traumatic over-stretching of tendons in the wrist can result in painful sprains.
Why Car Accident Settlement Values Vary – Even With the Same Hand Injury
It’s tempting to compare your injury and potential compensation to others advertised on lawyers’ websites. But the fact is, no two settlements—even for identical injuries—are exactly alike. Comparisons to other settlement figures can often be misleading.
Personal injury cases are not like products at a grocery store; they don’t all come with set values – especially more complex injury cases involving hands and wrists. Often the full value of a hand or wrist injury from a car accident can only be determined after a full range-of-motion or impairment report is received from a specialist.
And, while insurance adjusters may try to treat claims that way, they often discount how severely the injury impacts your day-to-day life. This is where a personal injury lawyer can help by obtaining an impairment or functional capacity report, to demonstrate your loss of use.
Insurance settlements should be tailored to each victim. The circumstances of your accident and injury are likely to be quite different from another person’s. For example, a person who is no longer able to work as a mechanic due to a hand injury may have a higher case value than a professional voice-actor.
When you talk directly with a lawyer, they will look to historical cases and past experiences to determine what may be realistic for a hand or wrist injury. They may even map out all your accident costs to get a closer estimate.
Factors That Can Increase a Hand or Wrist Injury Settlement
When setting values for injuries, there is no simple price list to go by. The insurance company for the at-fault driver might wish it were this easy, but your experienced lawyer will know that other circumstances must be considered as you negotiate a full and fair settlement.
The following factors and circumstances may increase your settlement amount:
- If you suffered a severe injury with an extended recovery time.
- If your hand or wrist injury is permanent.
- What type of work and recreational activities you do regularly.
- Whether surgical procedures are required.
- The costs of medical care, the associated pain and suffering, as well as additional recovery time.
- When you must hire help for tasks at home that you can no longer perform. For example, if you now need to hire a landscaper to mow your lawn.
- If you’ve missed work during treatment and recovery.
- If you must attend physical therapy.
- If you incur expenses for medication or prosthetic devices.
- If you have a diminished quality of life. For example, a golfer, a musician, or even a little-league coach who can no longer effectively pursue their hobbies or civic volunteerism may seek compensation for lost quality of life issues.
- When the other driver was under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In DUI cases, punitive damages can be requested. However, there is a cap on the amount of punitive damages that can be awarded in Georgia.
Factors That Can Reduce a Hand Injury Settlement
Just as some things can increase your settlement amount, some factors can lower your potential settlement, too. Instances that may decrease your compensation include:
- If you were partially at fault for your accident.
- If you fail to seek medical care to document your injuries.
- If there’s not enough evidence for an attorney to build a strong claim.
- If there is too little or no insurance available.
- If your injury is minor and you heal quickly and fully.
- If you hire a lawyer that is content settling for less.
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Our Law Firm Can Help
The Georgia legal team at The Millar Law Firm has a long and distinguished history of helping accident victims achieve full and fair settlements for their injuries. For decades, we have successfully represented people who have suffered due to the negligence of others. We know our way around personal injury claims, and our experience can be the key to unlocking your best settlement.
Insurance companies have entire teams of lawyers standing by to keep your settlement as small as possible. You need your own advocate who can find and present the evidence of everything you lost as a result of your accident.
Our goal is not simply to convince an insurance company or judge and jury of your injury but to also identify and find ways to deliver all the help you will need to live your best life despite the damages inflicted upon you. To make that happen, we offer a free first consultation so we can let you know what to expect and how to proceed.
Before you discuss any settlement or consider moving forward with your claim, get professional advice. Call us today to schedule your free initial appointment at 770-400-0000, and let us help you get the compensation you deserve.