In September 1996, Andrea McIntyre, then a first year student at McMaster University, was struck and injured by a car driven by an impaired driver. The young woman suffered numerous physical injuries, including several orthopaedic injuries, as a result of the accident. More than six years after the incident, Ms. McIntyre was still suffering from lower back pain, right lateral thigh numbness, knee discomfort and other joint and muscle pain. Ms. McIntyre sued the driver and the owner of the vehicle, as well as the University pub she and the driver had both attended, which she argued had over-served the driver. A jury ruled in Ms. McIntyre’s favor, finding the driver and the owner of the car 70% liable for the accident and the pub 30% liable. She was awarded $250,000 in general damages.
Orthopaedic injuries, which refers to any injury to the body’s musculoskeletal system, are one of the most common type of injuries resulting from accidents, specifically car accidents and slip, trip and fall accidents. Orthopaedic injuries includes injuries to the bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles and nerves. While these injuries are sometimes mild, they are frequently serious enough to require surgery. This typically includes open reduction surgery where plates, screws or other hardware are fixed internally.
The long-term effects of orthopaedic injuries can be significant and may include emotional and psychological pain, chronic pain, multiple surgeries, loss of income and other financial costs. Factors such as the age of the individual and prior or current medical history can play a significant role in how well and how quickly they recover from an orthopaedic injury.
Orthopaedic injuries are commonly associated with car accidents. In fact, four of the most common injuries resulting from motor vehicle collisions are orthopaedic injuries. They include:
- Brain and Head Injuries – Included are minor injuries such as lacerations and bruising to more serious injuries such as concussion or skull fracture, and catastrophic injuries such as traumatic brain injury. Brain injuries are frequently serious with potentially complex symptoms that can be permanent and have substantial consequences on an accident victim’s life. Brain injury is also the most common cause of death resulting from a car accident.
- Chest/Neck/Back Injuries – These injuries commonly occur in car accidents, particularly for individuals riding in the front seat. Included are neck sprains, whiplash, chest bruises, contusions, spinal injury, rib fractures and more.
- Joint Injuries – Joint injuries may entail minor bruising or more severe ligament tears and fractures. Some of the more common joint injuries are a ligament tear or fracture to the leg, such as a torn menisci of the knee or tendo-achilles injuries.
- Internal Organ Injury – Internal organ injuries include injury to any organ excluding the skin, such as to the lungs, liver, kidneys or heart.. These injuries are particularly dangerous not only because they constitute damage to a vital organ but also, symptoms are not always immediately perceived and the risk of further damage and threats to health may continue until a diagnosis is made. Next to brain damage, injury to the internal organs is a primary factor in accident fatalities.
While car accidents are a very common cause of orthopaedic injuries, equally as common, are slip, trip and fall accidents. Slip, trip and fall accidents may result from slippery or icy roads, wet or sticky floors, uneven surfaces, flooring or stairway defects and inadequate lighting. Injury to the bones and joints and supporting structures, such as muscles, cartilage, ligaments and tendons, frequently result from a serious fall. Mild to serious ankle fractures are among the most common type of orthopaedic injury resulting from slip and falls, with the most serious type being what is referred to as trimalleolar fractures. These latter fractures are very difficult to recover from as they may be complicated by an infection, nerve or blood vessel damage and arthritis.
Poor lighting and an uneven surface resulted in a foot injury and was the basis of a personal injury claim in Kania v. 1618278 Ontario Inc. While out with friends at a local pub, a woman fell when she missed a single step, which had recently been added to the back patio of the pub. As a result of the fall, she suffered a fracture of the navicular bone in her right foot, which caused her continuous pain and she was eventually diagnosed with mild to moderate post-traumatic osteoarthritis in her right foot. She sued the owners of the pub for negligence, for not providing sufficient warning to their customers about the newly constructed step. The judge agreed with the claimant and ruled that the owners of the pub failed in their duty of care, to ensure that everyone entering onto their premises are kept reasonably safe while there. As a result, the injured woman was awarded damages in the amount of $212,659.00.
While some orthopaedic injuries are mild to moderate and heal relatively quickly, others are severe and cause both short and long-term complications for the accident victim. Physical limitations and chronic pain resulting from a severe injury often impacts a person’s ability to function in daily activities, recreational pursuits and sometimes, the ability to perform their job or in fact, any type of gainful employment.
If you or someone you love suffered an orthopaedic injury or any other serious injury in an accident, contact a respected and knowledgeable personal injury attorney to determine your options for obtaining compensation. If your injury resulted from another party’s negligence, including an ‘at fault’ driver or negligent property owner, you may be entitled to file a tort suit for damages. Individuals injured in a motor vehicle accident are can also claim for accident benefits from their vehicle insurance policy. The experienced team at Kotak Law can offer expert advice on your most advantageous strategy for getting the compensation you are owed, if you sustained serious injury in an accident. Call Kotak Law today to find out about your best options moving forward.