Damages Caused by Sprain and Strain Injuries
We often like to think of sprains and strains as minor injuries. That couldn’t be further from the truth. Many sprains and strains can result in a significant amount of pain.
Unfortunately, the severity of some of these injuries may even require medication, physical therapy, or medical procedures.
Sprains and strains can create significant complications that can directly impact the lives of those suffering from them. These complications aren’t always medical. Sprains and strains can cause life disruptions, mental health issues, and emotional damages that go far beyond initial medical procedures.
Sprains and Strains Are the Most Common Work-Related Injuries
Strains and sprains are quite common. In fact, according to a recent Bureau of Labor Statistics report, strains and sprains remain the number one cause of all work-related incidents, accounting for nearly 31 percent of work-related injuries. For employees, strains and sprains can mean time away from work. For hourly workers, the lack of work can mean that there will be no money coming in. For small business owners, employees who suffer from strains and sprains may require time off. This can result in being understaffed or even unable to open.
Understanding one’s injury is critical to identifying potential medical and legal remedies. Both sprains and strains are considered soft tissue injuries. A sprain occurs whenever a ligament is either overextended or torn as a result of stress. The most common sprains are sprained wrists and sprained ankles. Although these sprains often occur during sports and exercise, they may occur at any time. Strains are similar to sprains but affect muscles or tendons.
Sprains are typically categorized into the following three medical categories:
- Grade 1: The ligament was slightly stretched or torn during the injury. Often, these types of sprains cause minimal pain, but that’s not always the case.
- Grade 2: The sprain is accompanied by swelling, bruising, and pain. These will typically be tender to the touch, but they don’t involve a full tear of the ligament.
- Grade 3: The ligament at the site of the sprain is completely torn. You may not be able to walk or move that area of your body without significant pain or instability.
Each of these grades can be accompanied by significant pain and suffering. These grades mostly refer to the extent of the damage to the ligament itself. Unfortunately, sprains also involve nerves and other structures in the body, and the pain from strains may be severe regardless of the grade of damage given by a doctor.
How do Sprains and Strains Occur?
Sprains and strains are generally caused when the ligaments that connect bones to other bones are stretched and torn. This can be caused by a number of things. However, more often than not a person will experience sprains and strains in the limbs. More specifically, the ankles, wrists, and knees. This can happen in physically demanding activities most often but can also occur when someone is doing something as simple as climbing the stairs and they slip and land on their foot the wrong way. Regardless of how,
Sprains and Strains Are Capable of Causing Lifelong Medical Problems
Sprains and Strains can create lifelong complications. Doctors have concluded that these types of injuries can be considered permanent injuries. While they may become less painful with proper treatment and time, they will never completely go away. In fact, these injuries may be aggravated by minor movements. Further problems can arise whenever sprains and strains are neglected. Neglected injuries often become serious, chronic injuries.
Complications of Sprain and Strain Injuries
Sometimes a person that has suffered a sprain or strain injury may develop further complications if they fail to seek medical assistance for their injury as soon as possible. These complications can not only worsen the severity of a sprain or strain injury but they can also increase an otherwise temporary injury into permanent damage. Complications of a sprain and strain injury can include chronic ankle pain, chronic ankle joint instability, and arthritis in the ankle joint.
Examples of Ways Sprains and Strains Can Affect Your Life:
- Recurring pain. Many sprains and strains can be remedied with time and care. However, these injuries can cause nagging pain that doesn’t seem to go away.
- Loss of enjoyment of life. The pain from an injury may keep you from being able to engage in some of your favorite activities. Lower body sprains may prevent one from exercising, dancing, or even walking without a cane.
- Ongoing medical care. Lingering injuries may require physical therapy, assistance such as a cane or brace, or even having to regularly take medicine to quell the pain.
The Medical Costs of Sprains
Medical costs related to sprains vary depending on the severity and location of the sprain. According to research, the average direct costs of an ankle sprain cost as much as $2,268 to remedy, and that figure excludes the cost of ongoing medical care, mental health issues, and recurring pain problems. Arm sprains also have a significant price tag, often costing up to $2,294 simply for the emergency visit and remediation. Unfortunately, many of these costs aren’t covered by insurance. This is especially true for durable medical equipment like arm braces and ankle braces, which are often uncovered and significantly costly.
But the costs don’t necessarily end with the first visit. Sprains can cause damage to the surrounding joints or interior structures of the impacted area—resulting in persistent pain that requires months of physical therapy and even prescription therapy. According to research by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, 40 percent of those who experience sprains will have ongoing chronic pain.
Attempting to alleviate this chronic pain requires physical therapy, which can cost over $100 per session. These sessions may continue for weeks, months, or years depending on the severity of the pain. Research suggests that over 30 percent of patients who present with a sprain are referred to a physical therapist. So these ongoing costs are anything but rare.
Another cost bucket involves prescription medications. In the United States, consumers pay over $18 billion annually for pain medication. And the overall cost of pain management for consumers is over $500 billion annually. Ankle sprains often don’t stop costing you money after the first visit. They can continue to accrue costs for months or even years after the initial injury.
Intangible Costs of Sprains
Medical costs aside, many consumers suffer from a multitude of emotional, mental, and physical ailments that fall outside of the medical bucket.
- Emotional distress: Depending on how your injury took place, you may have ongoing emotional distress related to the injury. For example, if your ankle was sprained during a car wreck, the medical damages alone may not cover the total impact of your injury. Around 9 percent of car crash victims suffer from PTSD, which can impact every layer of your daily life. The emotional damages from sprains range from individual to individual. Contact an attorney to discuss the specifics of your case.
- Pain and suffering: Pain is a very complex sensation. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), people who suffer from persistent pain are four times more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. The total costs related to pain and suffering are nearly immeasurable.
- Loss of enjoyment of life: The legal term loss of enjoyment of life exists to quantify and qualify the damages relating to how injuries impact your overall quality of life. Pain, emotional suffering, and financial stress all play a significant role in how we enjoy our day-to-day activities. When a sprain or strain impacts that quality of life, the costs go far beyond money.
The Lost Work Cost of Sprains
Beyond the medical costs associated with sprains, many individuals will have restricted mobility and pain that prevents them from working. Believe it or not, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) data shows that sprains and strains are the leading cause of lost work time in the United States. With 78 percent of American workers living paycheck to paycheck, these lost work hours can be detrimental to people’s financial health and mental wellbeing.
It may seem that sprains and strains will only result in one or two missed days. But that’s not true. According to the BLS, strains, and sprains result in more days away from work than the average illness or injury. The work-related costs of an injury vary from person-to-person. But these lost hours can prevent you from paying your mortgage or car payment or even from putting food on the table.
So, what are your options?
Third-party Lawsuits and Workers’ Compensation
In general, sprains and strains damages come in two forms: third-party lawsuits, and workers’ compensation claims. It’s important to note that some individuals who are injured on the job may want to take both actions, especially if their costs are not covered by workers’ compensation.
If you are injured outside of the workplace, you can file a third-party lawsuit against the person or entity responsible for your sprain or strain. In fact, you can also sue co-employees or employers who were responsible for your injury outside of workers’ compensation. But you should contact your attorney to discuss the details of these types of cases in length.
In general, a lawsuit against a third party is meant to cover medical expenses, lost work, and other damages relating to your injury. Generally, you and your attorney will consult to discover a suitable figure for your lost expenses. Some of the intangible costs are incredibly difficult to quantify. Consult your attorney to discuss these types of suffering in detail.
Workers’ Compensation Claims
Back, ankle, foot, and arm sprains are all incredibly common on-the-job injuries. Fortunately, these types of injuries are covered under your employer’s workers’ compensation insurance. The average payouts for these types of injuries range significantly. The average workers’ compensation claim for an injured foot is $17,435. Foot injuries can result in insurance payouts as high as $250,000. In other words, every case is entirely unique. Contact your attorney to discuss the specifics of your injury and the types of damages you’ve suffered.
Types of Sprain Damages
There are several types of potential damages involved when you’re facing a sprain or strain lawsuit. Typically, damages are organized into both economic loss (i.e., loss of work, medical costs, etc.) and non-economic damages (i.e., emotional issues, mental health, etc.).
Here are some of the different types of economic damages typically pursued in a personal injury claim:
- Lost wages: You may be able to receive compensation for any work-time impact the injury has caused you. For example, you may have to take days off of work to treat the injury, or your on-the-job performance may suffer due to pain or lack of mobility.
- Medical bills: From the initial hospital bills to prescription costs and pain management therapy, you may be able to receive compensation for all of your medical costs that arise from (or due to) the injury.
- Property Damage: Often, sprains, and strains happen in car accidents or other types of accidents that involve physical property. If your property was damaged during the injury, you may be able to receive compensation for that property.
Non-economic damages often pursued include:
- Emotional distress: You may be able to receive compensation for any type of emotional pain (e.g., anxiety, PTSD, depression, etc.) that you’ve suffered due to the injury.
- Loss of enjoyment of life: This is often the hardest type of damage to quantify. How do you put a price tag on the value of your life? By working closely with your attorney, you can determine a reasonable financial solution to this loss of enjoyment in the form of damages.
- Pain and suffering: Ongoing pain related to the injury can directly affect every part of your daily life. You may be able to receive compensation for pain and suffering and its related impact on your life.
Recovering Damages for Sprain Injuries
If you have suffered a strain or a sprain, you may be entitled to recovering compensation by filing a workers’ compensation claim or filing a lawsuit against a third party. If your accident was the result of the negligence of someone other than your employer, you may be entitled to damages for your medical expenses, lost income, loss of quality of life, and physical and emotional pain and suffering. The extent of your damage, your medical bills, and the impact on your quality of life are all important determiners for damage recovery.
Dolman Law Group has years of experience when it comes to assisting those that have suffered severe injuries while on the job. The best thing that you can do to ensure that you receive the best amount of compensation possible for an on the job injury is speak to an experienced workers compensation attorney like those at Dolman Law Group. You have a right to compensation should your injuries be caused by another party’s negligence. Don’t hesitate to at least speak to our attorneys. Dolman Law Group offers free consultations and can at the very least give you information on what options for legal action are available to you.
Dolman Law Group
800 North Belcher Road
Clearwater, FL 33765