Here, I’m going to give up to date info on personal injury settlements for a broken wrist. You’ll also hear about the average settlement for a broken wrist.
First, I want to quickly talk about the wrist. Then, we’ll talk about settlements.
Your radius is the bigger of the 2 bones in your forearm. The end closest to your wrist is referred to as the distal end.
A break of the distal radius happens if the part of the radius closest to the wrist fractures.
Comminuted Fracture Settlements
A comminuted fracture happens if the bone is fractured into more than 2 fragments.
The full value of pain and suffering of a comminuted fracture is worth more than a simple fracture or hairline fracture. I’m talking about for settlement purposes.
What does the Term “Full Value” Mean?
Throughout this article, I use the term full value. The full value is the estimate before any reductions for difficulty proving that the someone caused your broken wrist. The full value is also the amount before factoring your fault (if any) in the accident.
In tough liability cases, difficulty proving liability and comparative fault on a plaintiff can significantly reduce the full value of a case. In fact, sometimes I am unable to represent some people if I believe that I won’t be able to prove liability.
On other occasions, I don’t take a case if I believe that after factoring in liability issues (and fault on the injured person), the estimated case value is too small to warrant my time. Filing a claim takes a lot of time. And suing takes even more resources.
When calculating case value, I often reduce the full value in a slip and fall case. This is because slip and fall cases are difficult. Sometimes the court will dismiss a slip and fall case if you can’t show that the property owner knew (or should have known) that there was a hazard before you fell. This is known as proving notice.
On the other hand, if you were in a rear end car accident, I might not discount the full value of the case at all. Ultimately, it depends on the particular facts of the accident. In fact, every case depends on its unique set of facts.
When I value a case, I may need to reduce the pain and suffering component. Likewise, I may reduce the full value of the medical bills and lost wage calculations. I reduce these full values by the percent chance, if any, of a defense verdict (or the case is dismissed by the court). Additionally, I reduce the full value of the case by the likelihood (if any) that a jury finds the plaintiff negligent. This is known as comparative negligence.
$200K Settlement for Distal Radius Fracture from Car Accident (Miami)
Here is a short video about this settlement:
Marcia (not real name) was driving a car in Miami, Florida. She was heading straight through a traffic light that was green. While doing so, another car ran a red light. They crashed. As a result of the crash, Marcia had a comminuted intra-articular distal radius fracture.
USAA and Main Street America Group (Old Dominion Insurance Company) paid the claim. USAA has a reputation for paying above average in personal injury cases. The quality of the insurance company is one of many factors that may affect settlement value.
What is an open fracture?
An open fracture is when the broken bone breaks your skin. Open fractures need instant treatment due to the chance of being infected.
Tip: If you get an infection, this increases the full value of your personal injury case for settlement purposes.
$135K Settlement for Open Distal Radius Fracture (Car Accident)
A passenger got a $135,000 settlement for an open distal radius fracture after another car crashed into the car that she was in.
The injury was:
- Open distal radius and distal ulnar fractures.
- Laceration to flexor digitorum superficialis (FDS) tendon.
- Laceration to flexor digitorum profundus (FDP) to index finger.
A laceration is a deep cut or tear.
The passenger had the following surgery:
- Irrigation and debridement of the volar wrist wound.
- Primary repair of FDS tendon to index finger in zone 5.
- Repair of the muscle belly to FDP muscle
- Open reduction and internal fixation (ORIF) of the distal radius fracture.
The driver of the other car got a ticket for failure to yield the right of way. The accident happened in Hialeah, Miami-Dade County, Florida.
I represented the passenger. This is one of my many settlements for an out of state visitor who was injured in a Florida car accident.
A break that doesn’t go into the joint is known as an extra-articular fracture. These are usually worth less than intra-articular fracture, which I discuss below.
An intra-articular fracture is a break that goes into the wrist joint. “Articular” is defined as “joint.”
$37,500 Settlement for Broken Wrist (Car Accident)
Alex (not real name) was a passenger was in a car that was being driven in Miami, Florida (near the Falls Shopping Center). Another car was heading in the opposite direction. The other car made a left hand turn in front of the car in which Andrew was a passenger. The cars crashed.
As a result of the car accident, Alex had a broken wrist (distal radius fracture). Specifically, he had a distal radial intra-articular fracture. An orthopedic surgeon put a plate and screws into his wrist.
After the car accident, Alex wanted a Free Consultation from a Miami car accident lawyer. Thus, he contacted me. We met in my office (which was in Kendall, Florida at the time). During our in person meeting, he hired me.
Allstate insured the other car. The bodily injury liability (BIL) limit was $10,000. In addition, State Farm insured the car within which Alex was a passenger. State Farm had a $25,000 BIL limit.
State Farm and Allstate paid the combined $35,000 BIL insurance limit to settle. Neither driver had collectible assets.
Certain breaks are harder to manage (Increase Settlement Value)
Some fractures are harder to manage than others. The hardest breaks to treat are:
- Intra-articular fracture
- Comminuted fracture
- Open fracture
- Displaced fracture (if the bone fragments don’t align properly). The above image shows a displaced fracture.
Since these fractures are harder to treat, the full value of the case is usually higher.
You may also break your other bone in your forearm (ulna). This is known as a distal ulna fracture.
Approximately fifty percent of distal radius fractures occur in association with an ulnar styloid fracture. An ulnar styloid fracture generally does not require treatment.
So, if you also have a ulnar styloid fracture that doesn’t need treatment, it doesn’t add big value to your case.
Distal Radioulnar Joint (or DRUJ)
However, when the joint between the distal radius and ulna styloid, the distal radioulnar joint (or DRUJ), is unstable, the ulnar styloid may require independent treatment. This increases the full value of a Florida injury case.
Most distal radius fractures with associated ulnar styloid fractures happen without DRUJ instability.
A recent study concluded that patients who had distal radius fractures, did not have a worse outlook by the occurrence or absence of an ulnar styloid fracture.
Which Accidents Result in Injury Claims for Distal Radius Fractures?
Osteoporosis is a condition where your bones are extremely delicate and have a higher chance of fracturing. It may make a simple fall lead to a fractured wrist.
Your doctor should agree that your distal radius fracture could’ve happened from falling.
Signs of a Broken Wrist
A fractured wrist generally results in sudden swelling, bruising, tenderness and immediate pain. If you have swelling or bruising, you should immediately take photos of it.
Be sure to include your face in some of the photos so the liable party’s insurance company knows that it is your wrist. You should date and time stamp the photo.
Then send the photos to the responsible party’s insurance company.
Getting Checked Out by a Doctor
If your injury doesn’t hurt badly, and your wrist doesn’t look deformed, you may be able to hold off a day on seeing the doctor.
After most Florida car crashes, you should get examined by a doctor within 14 days. Otherwise, you will lose your Personal Injury Protection (PIP) benefits.
If your injury hurts very badly, if your wrist is numb or deformed, or your fingers aren’t their normal color, you should immediately go to the emergency room.
The doctor will take x-rays of your wrist. They will show if the bone is fractured, as well as any displacement (space between the fractured bones).
If you have a fracture, this raises the full case value. If you have displacement, this also increases the full case value.
They can also reveal how many fragments of fractured bone you have. The more fragments of fractured bone, the higher the full value of the case.
The aim of treating your fractured bones is to place the fractured fragments back into place and stop them from shifting out of place until they heal.
There are different kinds of treatment for a broken wrist. The type of treatment will be based on several considerations, like the kind of break, your age and how active you are, and what the orthopedic surgeon prefers.
Treatment Without Surgery Usually Results in Smaller Settlements
If the fractured bone is in good alignment, a cast may be put on it until it heals. If this is the case, your case has a lower settlement value.
The low-end ($35,000) of the pain and suffering range is for a wrist fracture that heals within a few weeks (e.g. 6 weeks or so). This assumes that you receive a little bit of physical therapy (PT). It also assumes that you have little to no permanent impairment (injury) or limitations.
Keep in mind that this $35,000 figure is the full value of pain and suffering. If you were 80% at fault for causing the accident, the $35,000 would be reduced by 80%. In other words, the pain and suffering value (after discounting for your fault) would be $7,000.
Also, estimating the full value of pain and suffering is not an exact science. There is not an “injury table” that says that an insurance company has to assign this amount. Likewise, a judge does not have to award a specific amount. The value is from past jury verdict research, primarily in South Florida. South Florida consists of Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County. Jury verdicts in these counties tend to be much higher than in rural parts of the state.
Upper Range of Pain and Suffering for a Broken Wrist Without Surgery is $70K
The higher end of the range is $70,000 for the full value of pain and suffering. This applies for injuries to the dominant (preferred) wrist, and serious future limitations on the use of your wrist or continuous serious pain, or a longer treatment period.
The above values are the actual values that I use as a starting point for the full value of the pain and suffering component of a wrist fracture. I use those values in my Florida injury and car accident settlement calculator.
However, I strongly suggest that you do not value your case based on an online settlement calculator.
Bike Rider Gets $10K for Wrist Fracture (Car Runs Him Off Road)
A car ran a bike rider off the road in North Miami, Florida. The bike rider fell off his bike. The car drove off.
In Florida, if a car runs you off the road and leaves the scene, the car is considered “uninsured“. This is true even if the car doesn’t touch you.
GEICO paid us the $10,000 limits of my client’s uninsured motorist insurance.
$10K Settlement for Broken Wrist After Car Hits Golf Cart Driver
A car hit my client while he was working as a security guard at Dolphin Mall in Miami-Dade County, Florida.
The limit of liability insurance for the driver and owner of the car that hit my client was only $10,000.
“Reduction” for a Distal Radius Fracture
If the alignment (position) of the bone is not in place and likely to hinder the future use of the arm, the doctor may need to re-align the fractured bone pieces. This is called reduction, and it is when the doctor shifts the fractured fragments into alignment.
If the doctor has to re-align your broken bone fragments, this increases the full value of your case for settlement purposes.
Surgery greatly increases the full value of your case for settlement purposes.
How much is a Broken Wrist (with Surgery) Worth?
The low-end of the full value of the pain and suffering component of a personal injury case for a wrist fracture is $150,000 or so.
This is true when you have:
- hardware (plate and screws) surgically inserted into your hand
- no or little complications to your treatment
- a little bit of physical therapy (PT)
- little to no permanent impairment (injury) or limitations.
The value for pain and suffering increases if you have serious future limitations on the use of your wrist or continuous serious pain, or a longer treatment period.
Once again, the pain and suffering amounts are in addition to other compensation that you may be entitled to.
Are Broken Wrist Settlements Different for Motorcycle Accidents?
Yes. In a motorcycle accident in Florida, even if the broken wrist isn’t a permanent injury, the rider can still get compensation for pain and suffering.
On the other hand, in most Florida car accident cases, the injured person needs a permanent injury.
What happens if the doctor doesn’t say that the broken wrist is a permanent injury?
In most Florida car accident claims, the injured person isn’t entitled to pain and suffering.
$1.25 Million Verdict for Broken Wrist (and Other Fractures)
In the case of Stewart v. Draleaus, 226 So. 3d 990 (Fla. 4th DCA 2017), Reagle was driving a motorcycle. This isn’t my case. However, I’ve read portions of the court file.
Robin Vincent was Reagle’s passenger.
Reagle’s temporary motorcycle license didn’t allow him to carry passengers. Having a temporary license in similar to not having a license.
Vincent was injured when she claimed that a car, driven by Stewart, crashed into her.
Nationwide Insurance insured Stewart.
I don’t know if Reagle’s motorcycle was insured. I also don’t know if Reagle had umbrella insurance.
Wrist Fractures With Surgery Usually Get Bigger Settlements
She also had a compound fracture to the right wrist which required to plates and screws. An compound fracture is also called an open fracture.
As a reminder, it is a fracture in which there is an open wound or break in the skin near the site of the broken bone.
The fact that she had a plate and screws put in her wrist increases the value of her case. Big time.
She sustained an open (compound) fracture to the right leg which required two plates and screws and a metal rod. I don’t know if she fractured her upper leg (femur) or her lower leg bone (tibia or fibula).
Vincent also had an, an open book pelvic fracture which required two four-inch screws in the back and a 5 inch plate and screws in the front.
It doesn’t stop there:
She also had two vertebral burst fractures. This is what a burst fracture looks like:
She had a two level lumbar fusion. This is what a one level lumbar fusion looks like:
Wow. Those are some serious injuries.
Vincent hired a West Palm Beach personal injury lawyer.
She sued Stewart for pain, suffering and other compensation.
Nationwide Took the Case To Trial
But Nationwide is still an insurance company. As you’ll see here, they still fight certain car accident claims.
Nationwide initially defended the lawsuit using an in house attorney, Mark Hektner. He is a West Palm Beach lawyer. Essentially, he was an employee of Nationwide.
Through its attorney, Nationwide denied liability.
Nationwide didn’t use its expert doctor at trial. Vincent and her mother testified about the impact of her injuries.
Passenger’s Doctor Said Future Care is $300K to $400K
Vincent presented the expert testimony of several doctors. They were:
- Orthopedic Surgeon, Dr. Daniel Segina
- Plastic surgeon Dr. Theophilos
- Pain management and physical rehabilitation expert Dr. Mark Rubenstein
Dr. Rubenstein testified within a reasonable degree of medical certainty that Vincent will require future care between $300,000.00 and $400,000.00.
Further, Dr. Rubenstein specifically did not include in his number any future treatment he deemed possible. He only included future treatment he was reasonably certain would be necessary.
I’ve said it before. All things equal, a passenger’s personal injury case is better than a driver’s case. And the jury here proved that this was the case.
According to her attorney, all her doctors testified that her injuries were related to the accident. All the doctors said that her injuries were permanent. They also agreed that she will need future medical care.
In addition, each doctor spoke about the pain involved in dealing with the injuries suffered by her.
At trial, the jury awarded her $725,829.80 for past medical bills. They awarded her $100,000 for past pain and suffering. They gave her $400,000 for future pain and suffering.
The bad news for the passenger?
The jury only awarded her $30,000 for future medical bills.
Passenger Usually Isn’t At Fault (Which Helps Settlement)
The jury placed 55% of the negligence on Stewart. They found Reagle 45% at fault.
Why does this percentage matter?
Since Kevin Stewart was 55% at fault, Nationwide only has to pay 55% of the Vincent’s damages. Of course, this amount is only up to the policy limits.
However, to get this money, Nationwide would need to have an insurance policy that is greater than $690,706.
Unfortunately, I don’t know how much Nationwide’s policy was in this case.
However, most car insurance policies aren’t that big. In fact, I settled a personal injury case with Nationwide where its insured’s bodily injury liability (BIL) insurance limits were just $10,000.
I also represented a family against Nationwide’s insured. The family was on vacation in Florida (from California). A car crashed into them. Nationwide had a $100,000 BIL limit in that case.
On the other hand, Nationwide also sells $1 million BIL policies. Better yet, Nationwide sells personal umbrella insurance coverage.
If Reagle, the motorcycle driver, didn’t have insurance, this could be bad news for Vincent. She might be able to get money from him.
Would this case have been different if Stewart was an Uber or Lyft driver?
If Stewart was an Uber or Lyft driver, and engaged in a ride, then there would be a $1 million insurance policy. The most that the injured motorcycle riders and passenger could get combined would be $1 million. I’m referring to getting money from Uber (Progressive) or Lyft (York Risk Services).
Here, Uber and Lyft’s insurance company would’ve had enough to pay Vincent what the jury awarded ($690K).
Ok. Back to the case.
After the verdict, Vincent and her attorney asked the trial court to increase the future medical bill award. From looking at the court file, I don’t see that the judge increased the award.
Did Nationwide automatically pay Vincent?
No. Nationwide appealed the verdict.
The appeals court said that in this particular situation — the motorcycle license violation was relevant to the case at hand. The evidence should have been presented to the jury for a determination of whether the violation proximately caused any of Reagle’s injuries.
Thus, it ordered a new trial. At the new trial, the jury will get to hear that the Reagle’s temporary motorcycle license didn’t allow him to carry passengers.
On October 27, 2017, this appellate order was entered in the trial court file. There are no other filings since then. Thus, I assume that Vincent reached a settlement.
She likely settled with Nationwide for less than the amount that Stewart was found liable for. This is because, among other things, the new jury would’ve heard that the Reagle had a passenger but didn’t have the proper license. In other words, more fault would likely be placed on Reagle. Thus, the jury would put less fault on Nationwide’s insured.
Let’s look at the types of distal radius fractures.
Does Nerve Damage in Your Hand Affect the Settlement Amount?
Yes. If an accident causes you to damage the nerve(s) in your hand, this increases the full value of the case for settlement purposes. The worse the nerve damage, the bigger the resulting increase on the case’s full settlement value.
A Colles fracture happens when the broken piece of the radius shifts upward.
Other distal radius fractures are:
Learn about Barton’s fractures from a fall or other accident.
Did someone’s carelessness cause your injury in an accident in Florida, or on a cruise or boat?
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This article is also in Spanish: Fracturas de Muñeca (Fracturas Distales del Radio): Accidentes de Auto, Bicicleta y Otros