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Fractures in Children


Children enjoy hopping, jumping, running, skipping, and tumbling. All these activities may have the potential to result in a fracture should a sudden fall happen. A fracture is a medical condition involving a break in the continuity of the bone. It generally occurs when there is excessive force applied to the bone or more than what the bone can absorb. Motor vehicle collisions are a leading cause of fractures in children.

If your child has suffered a broken bone in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, our personal injury lawyers are here to help. Call our law firm at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400. Our attorneys are available anytime to review your bone fracture case and provide free, friendly advice.

Since 1982, our personal injury law firm has represented many California families in personal injury cases involving broken bones. We understand that this may be a challenging time for your family and will provide the care, guidance, and legal representation needed. When you are ready to take legal action on behalf of your child, contact us today to set up a free case evaluation and learn what options for recovery are available.

What is a Pediatric Bone Fracture?

A pediatric fracture includes broken bones in patients ranging in age from neonatal to late adolescence. This type of injury is unique because its management and patterns differ from that of adults because of biomechanics, anatomy, and physiology of growing bone.

Most Common Reasons for Fractures in Children

According to the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPMR), the leading cause of fractures in children is trauma. This is often related to:

Common Types of Fractures in Pediatric Patients

Following are the most common types of bone fractures in children:

  • Buckle Fracture: Also known as a compression fracture, it involves the buckling of a bone to one side but does not break.
  • Greenstick Fracture: The bone cracks from bending instead of breaking into separate fragments.
  • Growth Plate Fracture: This type of fracture occurs when there is a break in a bone undergoing the growth process.
  • Stress Fracture: When there is a very fine, small break in the bone.
Classification of Growth Plate Fractures

A growth plate fracture is classified under the Salter-Harris system, which provides estimations of both the prognoses and possibility of growth disturbances. According to OrthoInfo of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS), the system classifies this type of fracture into five groups, including:

  • Type I: At the growth plate, there is a break through the bone, causing a separation in the bone shaft from the bone end. This may cause a complete disruption in the growth plate.
  • Type II: There is a partial break in the bone at the growth plate causing a crack through the bone shaft. A type II fracture is the most common type of growth plate injury.
  • Type III: This type of injury is more common in cases involving older children. It occurs when a fracture crosses through a part of the growth plate, causing a fragment of the bone end to break off.
  • Type IV: This type of trauma occurs when there is a break in the end of the bone, the growth plate, and the bone shaft.
  • Type V: This is a rare fracture in children. They may occur from a compression force causing the growth plate to sustain a crushing injury.
Risk Factors for Growth Plate Injury

A child is susceptible to suffering an injury of the growth plate at any stage of the growth and development process. However, there are specific factors that may influence how often they occur. OrthoInfo of AAOS reports:

  • About one-third of breaks in the growth plate occurs in children participating in competitive sports such as gymnastics, basketball, or football
  • Approximately 20% of all fractures of the growth plate happen during recreational activities like skateboarding, skiing, sledding, and cycling.
  • Fractures of the growth plate occur twice as often in boys as in girls because boys finish growing slower than girls.
  • There is a peak in the incidence of a growth plate fracture in adolescence
What are the Signs of a Broken Growth Plate?

One of the common symptoms of a growth plate fracture is severe or chronic pain. Other common signs include:

  • Difficulty to put pressure or move the injured limb
  • Warmth, tenderness, and swelling in the affected area near the joint and around the end of the bone
  • Visible deformity of the trauma site, like the limb presenting a crooked appearance
Types of Pediatric Treatment for Bone Fractures

A pediatric fracture is often treated with a brace, cast, or splint to stabilize the bone. Before this is done, the bone may need to be realigned or set before stabilization. This process is called reduction and is generally performed by medical professionals in two ways:

  • Closed Reduction: The process of realigning the fractured bone without the involvement of incisions. Medication is often given to relieve pain from the medical procedure.
  • Open Reduction: In cases where the broken bone is more complex, surgery may be necessary for the alignment and stabilization of bones with plates, screws, and wires. An incision is required and is generally performed under anesthesia.
How are Growth Plate Injuries Treated?

Treatment of a fractured growth plate will depend on various factors, including:

  • Any related trauma
  • The displacement of the broken ends of the bone
  • The overall health and age of the child
  • The type of fracture
  • Which bone is affected
Surgical Treatment

If the fracture of the growth plate is unstable and there is a displacement of bone fragments, a surgical procedure may be necessary. The most common operation in treating broken bones is open reduction and internal fixation (IRIF).

During IRIF, the fragments of bone are positioned into proper alignment (reduction). After this has been done, special implants such as wires or screws are used to fix the bones into place. Metal plates may also be used to attach to the outer surface of the bone. Casts are often applied to immobilize and protect the affected area during the healing process.

Nonsurgical Treatment

Most fractured growth plates are healed successfully through the treatment of immobilization. This involves the application of a cast to the affected area. There are some limitations for the injured child depending on the type of activity.

A cast will hold the broken bones in place and protect them while they heal. Physicians often use cast immobilization when the broken pieces of bone are not found to be significantly out of position.

Personal Injury Cases for Minor Children in California

Under California law, a minor child is not held to the same standards of care as an adult because of their lack of experience. To compensate for this, adults are expected to exercise additional due care by anticipating unintended behavior from a child in the event of an accident.

For instance, if a child runs into the road and is hit by a motor vehicle, the motorist has a specific responsibility to watch for children in the road. This is especially true in areas such as school zones, neighborhoods, and parks. The driver is expected to anticipate the presence of a child or others on the road and must be prepared to respond accordingly, regardless of the unique circumstances involved.

Who is at Fault in an Accident Involving a Minor Child?

When it comes to children, they are owed a higher standard of care from their adult counterparts. Those who fail to exercise additional due care and cause harm to a child may be held financially accountable for any resulting damages. At-fault parties may include:

  • Dog owners
  • Drivers of motor vehicles
  • Manufacturers of playground equipment or toys
  • Property owners

Proving liability for an injury to a child is often a challenging matter. Seeking the assistance of an experienced personal injury attorney in California may be the best course of action in your situation. A skilled injury lawyer has the necessary experience and resources to conduct an independent investigation of the accident in question, retain expert witnesses, and build a strong case for financial compensation.

Compensation in a Personal Injury Case of a Minor

An injured minor child may be entitled to the following types of compensation:

  • Past and future medical expenses that are deemed reasonable and necessary
  • Scarring and disfigurement if the injury has caused an unsightly mark in a visible area of the body
  • Mental trauma from the involvement in the catastrophic accident that caused injury
  • Pain and suffering for the physical pain and emotional suffering the injury has caused

Additional information about the personal injury claims process in California is available through the video below.

What is the Statute of Limitations for a Minor in California?

Bodily injury claims are subject to a strict filing deadline known as the statute of limitations. Under the California Code of Civil Procedure Section 335.1, a claimant has a period of two years to file a lawsuit in civil court.

The two-year statute of limitations may be extended or tolled if the case involves a minor. This means that once the minor turns 18, they have two years from their 18th birthday to file a personal injury suit. For more information on the claims process and filing deadlines for minors, reach out to an experienced injury lawyer today.

Contact a Pediatric Bone Fracture Attorney Today

As a parent or legal guardian, you want the best for your child. When your child has suffered a fracture or other type of injury in an accident caused by someone else’s negligence, you expect fair compensation from the at-fault party for your child’s medical expenses and other losses. In such situations, you need an experienced personal injury attorney on your side.

Contact our law firm to schedule a free consultation with one of our attorneys at (916) 921-6400 or (800) 404-5400. We are available anytime to meet with your family, discuss your case, and determine the best options for moving forward on behalf of your child.

Editor’s Note: Updated for accuracy and relevancy [cha 3.14.23]

Image Source: Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

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