Below are some insights regarding hand, wrist and finger injuries that victims have sustained in car accidents, slip and fall accidents and construction site accidents.
At Michael J. Redenburg, Esq. PC we will take you through the statistics on hand, wrist, and finger injuries for various types of accidents and how we interpret these statistics to help you better predict ranges of compensation for your case.
What is the value of Hand, Finger and Wrist Injuries?
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 and how that particular injury limits your day to day life afterward.
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 injured body parts in workplaces. Except for back injuries, hand injuries are the most common type of nonfatal injury that causes injuries to workers and causes other injury victims to take time off from work. Trigger finger is an extremely common on-the-job injury.
Personal injury lawsuits may involve the hand, wrist, and fingers that we often times see in auto accidents, trip and falls and construction accidents.
We have seen serious injury cases involving hands and wrists. These types of hand injuries are likely to have higher compensation payouts and tend to settle during litigation and before trial rather 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 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.
Medical Care Costs Do Not Always Reflect Pain and Suffering
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 does not 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 we feel that 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 that 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.
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.
Frequently Asked Questions
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:
Do hand injury cases usually settle out-of-court before filing a lawsuit or going to trial?
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 we 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.
What type of hand injury lawsuits have the greatest settlement value?
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 truer if the victim is already developing arthritis or nerve damage that puts the patient at an even greater high risk for developing 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.
How do I maximize my settlement compensation payout for my hand injury claim?
This may appear self-serving. But the path to improving the worth of your injury claim is to hire the very best personal injury lawyer you can find with a record of success and proven courtroom skills.
Relevant Medical Studies
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.
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, 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.
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