Many clients contact our firm seeking expert advice on the value of their case. A common question is “what is my broken leg worth in Georgia?” First, understand that most of my clients are conservative Georgians. Some of them are embarrassed to even be asking a question like that. They work for a living and are not looking for handouts. They, like me, believe in a pay as you go society where each of us pulls our own weight and no one rides for free.
You need to understand that for over 200 years, our justice system has handled car accident injuries and wrongful death in a deliberate and well-thought-out manner. Jury verdict awards come from the common wisdom of our neighbors, not from the persuasive techniques of lawyers. Are well trained lawyers great at presenting their cases? Certainly, but understand that the facts of the case are the most important factor. Our justice system is premised on the concept that if you act carelessly and hurt or kill another human being, the system will compensate the victim to put the scales back in balance. Hiring an auto accident attorney in Atlanta is not about looking for a lottery ticket, it’s about balancing the wrong that was done to you. With that in mind, we will discuss how broken legs differ, and by analogy how all injuries differ.
Each injury coming from a car accident in Georgia is unique and the impact on each client is unique. One broken leg sustained in a car crash in Atlanta, Georgia is not the same as the broken leg that my client sustained slipping at a hotel in Decatur, Georgia.
Anatomy of a Broken Leg
There are three bones that comprise the leg, the femur, the tibia, and the fibula. The femur is the large upper leg bone, the tibia and the fibula comprise the lower leg.
Let us begin with fractures to the bones of the lower leg, the tibia, and the fibula.
A tibial plateau fracture from a car accident occurs just below the knee and can involve the cartilage as well. Early management and physical therapy are essential to avoiding arthritis.
An open or compound fracture from a car accident can be the most painful and difficult to treat type of fracture. Compound fractures are those where there is a complete break of the bone and surgery is often required. ORIF, or open reduction internal fixation repairs are grueling surgeries with long recoveries. With open fractures, the skin has been pierced and bacteria and other agents can infect the would, increasing the danger to the patient and the recovery time.
For mild patellar fractures where the patient can move their knee still, a long leg case can be used to let the fracture heal. For more serious knee fractures, surgery and extensive physical therapy can be necessary. The broken pieces can be repaired with pins, screws, and wires.
The value of a patella fracture from a truck accident or car accident without surgery is at least $25,000.00 and can go much higher depending on the long term consequences. The value of a patella fracture with surgery can easily exceed $100,000.00.
Femur Fractures from Car Accidents
The large bone in the upper leg is the femur and it is incredibly strong. Because car crashes, especially head-on collisions, involve the vehicle crushing in, directly towards the long end of the femur, we see a large number of compound femur fractures in the Georgia car accident cases I handle.
For mild fractures, casts are appropriate. For serious fracture, the Doctor can put a rod down the center of the femur. This surgery is done under general anesthesia and there are multiple scars. Patients often complain of knee pain and arthritis for years to come. With sufficient insurance coverage in place, a compound femur fracture even with a good result is worth in excess of $250,000.00 and more if a tractor-trailer caused the fracture in Georgia.
Some leg fractures require plates and screws to fixate the fracture, especially if it is close to the knee or ankle. In the most severe fractures, doctors will use external fixators. The external hardware secures the bones and immobilizes them so that they can heal. Fractures requiring external fixation have significant case values because they are incredibly painful and tend not to heal without post-traumatic arthritis. In cases with sufficient insurance, external fixation fractures can be worth over $300,000.00.
Fractures of the ankle, fractures of the malleolus and the calcaneus bones in the ankle and foot are incredibly complex and incapable of gross generalizations regarding case value. Each of these fractures has a different severity and the outcome is completely dependent on how the client is able to heal. Some malleolar fractures are catastrophic such as the case I worked on for a lady who shattered both of her hers resulting in a permanent fixation of the ankle joint. The case settled for over $800,000.00.
Please realize that each injury is unique and know that the attorney will need to review the medical records before they can give you an accurate estimate of value.