One common type of injury that cyclists may sustain in a bicycle accident is a broken collarbone. The severity of this injury depends on the location and nature of the fracture. This will also determine the course of treatment taken.
Causes and Symptoms of a Broken Collarbone
The collarbone (clavicle) is a bone located over the top of the chest between the breastbone and shoulder blade. There are three types of breaks that can occur, with the most common a mid-shaft broken collarbone. A bicyclist falling onto an outstretched arm or falling onto the shoulder may cause this type of fracture.
Less common is a distal broken collarbone at the end of the bone. When it does happen, it’s caused by direct impact to the side and top of the shoulder. Rarely does a medial broken collarbone occur. If it does, it’s generally caused by a direct blow to the front of the chest.
Wherever the location, it could be a hairline crack or the bones might be severely displaced. The most serious is when there are multiple breaks.
According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS), the following are symptoms that may indicate a broken collarbone:
- sagging shoulder;
- trouble lifting the arm;
- grinding sensation;
- a bump over the broken area;
- swelling; and
Treating a Broken Collarbone and How It May Relate to an Accident Claim
There will be medical costs when a collarbone has been broken. However, the costs will depend on the type of treatment prescribed. If it’s a minor fracture, the bone may heal on its own.
Treating a minor collarbone break typically requires:
- immobilization with a sling;
- ice packs;
- medication for pain; and
- possibly physical therapy.
A more serious fracture could require surgery. This depends on a variety of factors, such as the patient’s age, activity level and degree of displacement. The bones are realigned using plates, screws and pins. Of course, this will result in higher medical costs.
If another party was at fault for the bicycle accident, that individual may be responsible for covering these expenses. But there could be other forms of compensation available as well. For instance, recovery can take several months or longer if surgery was performed.
If the individual is unable to work, the wages that he/she has been without may be recoverable. And with a more serious injury, compensation might also include pain and suffering damages.
If there are complications from the procedure, this could also impact damages in an accident claim. One example is when it doesn’t heal properly. In some cases it might require a second surgery. Or the hardware causes irritation. This is why it’s important to address all medical costs: current and future.
Importance of Seeking Legal Advice after a Bicycle Accident
Broken collarbones aren’t life-threatening and they generally don’t result in disability. But they can still be serious injuries that result in financial, physical and emotional losses. The best way to learn about one’s rights after a bicycle accident is to contact an attorney. Call D.J. Banovitz in Aurora at 303-300-5060 to set up a consultation.