Are broken bones considered catastrophic injuries?

Broken bones could be considered catastrophic injuries if the fracture is severe and there are long-term or permanent effects. Although most broken bones heal without problems, some can lead to life-threatening complications. Other fractures cause some type of impairment or even necessitate care in a nursing facility.

Catastrophic injuries can be life-altering. It could affect ability to work, perform routine daily tasks and result in a variety of complications that reduces quality of life. Although any injury sustained in an accident could lead to compensation, catastrophic injuries may lead to greater compensation because of the extent of financial, physical, and even psychological damages.

Hip Fractures

These fractures can be very serious. Those who’ve had a fractured hip are at risk of it occurring again.

If there is extended immobility, the following increase in likelihood according to the Mayo Clinic:

  • blood clots;
  • bedsores;
  • pneumonia; and
  • urinary tract infections.

Many people lose their independence, either for a long period of time or indefinitely.

Open Fractures

When a broken bone punctures the skin, this is called an open (or compound) fracture.

Compound fractures cause injury not only to the bone and skin, there is usually some injury to surrounding tissue:

  • tendons;
  • ligaments; and
  • muscles.

This fracture increases the risk of complications such as infection and can take longer to heal.


Most people don’t think about the possibility that a broken bone could lead to amputation. But this type of catastrophic injury can occur when a limb is severely infected following the injury. It may be the only way to prevent it from spreading into other parts of the body.

Comminuted Fractures

This type occurs when the bone shatters into three or more pieces. With such a complicated type of break, it’s difficult to treat. Sometimes they fail to properly heal (also known as nonunion).

Vertebral Compression Fractures

These fractures occur as the vertebrae collapses, more often in the thoracic (middle) section of the back, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center. But no matter the location, this is a very serious fracture that sometimes requires surgery.

Although surgery is rare, when it is necessary the recovery can be long-term. And there is always the risk of additional injuries because the vertebrae are in close proximity to the spinal cord.

Growth Plate Injuries

In children, a broken growth plates (ends of the long bones) could be disfiguring. Let’s say the growth plate in the left arm is broken, for example; the bone might not grow the same length as the right arm.

Other Types of Complications

With any type of broken bone, there are other general complications that may accompany it. For instance, acute compartment syndrome may affect some patients after a fracture; this occurs as pressure in the muscle builds, which can reduce blood flow, according to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS).

Healing might be delayed or not complete. If this occurs in a leg, it could impact one’s ability to walk; if it occurs in an arm, it could reduce movement. And there is also the risk that blood vessels or nerves are damaged in the accident.

Make sure your claim or lawsuit accounts for the full extent of your injuries. Call D.J. Banovitz if you were injured in an Arvada car accident that somebody else caused. Set up your appointment by calling (303) 300-5060 or fill out our contact form.

D.J. Banovitz’ career has always concentrated on trial practice and he has litigated hundreds of cases. His passion and sole career focus has been to seek justice for people suffering from personal injuries as the result of someone else’s negligence. The hallmark of the Law Office of D.J. Banovitz, is the total commitment to professionalism, quality, and personalized care of your injury case. D.J. has dedicated his professional life to helping those most in need and is a proud and active member of the Colorado Trial Lawyers Association. His experience includes volunteering for Colorado Rural Legal Services in Montrose, the Colorado Aids Project, consumer law, family law, criminal defense, and Alternative Defense Counsel for juveniles in Denver.