Sprained Wrist Injuries Rank Among the Most Common Types of Hand Injuries, and You May Be Entitled to Seek Compensation if Injured
Wrist sprains are a common injury caused by the sudden twisting or stretching of the ligaments in the wrist joint beyond their normal range of motion. This happens in workplace injuries, or during a fall—perhaps on an uneven or slippery floor, or during sports or some traumatic event like a car accident. Overuse or repeated stress on a joint can also gradually weaken ligaments and lead to a sprain. Age can also be a factor.
A wrist sprain can take anywhere from two to ten weeks to heal or even longer. The more painful the sprain is, the more severe it is, and it will take longer to heal.
If you have suffered a strain or sprain of your wrist in the workplace or on someone’s property, speak to one of the diligent attorneys at Cohen & Riechelson to see if you can recover your medical expenses and regain any income you lost from work as a result of your injury.
How Does a Sprained Wrist Happen in NJ?
To understand it better, let’s go into the basics of the construction of the wrist. According to the Mayo Clinic, a wrist has eight small bones (known as carpal bones) plus the two longer bones of your forearm. All the bones are connected by ligaments. Ligaments are tough tissue strands connecting bone to bone in a joint. They support and stabilize joints. An excessive force or unnatural motion can stretch or tear them, which causes a sprain.
As you can guess, there are different grades of sprains:
In this type of sprain, ligaments are stretched but not torn. Pain and swelling are probably minimal. The wrist’s stability is probably not affected in a big way. Recovery is typically quick.
The ligaments are partially torn in this type of sprain. There’s more pain, swelling, and instability of the joint. Healing may take a couple of weeks to a couple of months, and wearing a brace or undergoing physical therapy may be necessary.
This involves a complete tearing of a ligament or even multiple ligaments. This sort of injury is usually highly painful, with lots of swelling. It may take several months to heal, and medical treatment like a cast, brace, pain medication, surgery, or rehabilitation may be necessary.
How Do I Know if I Have a Wrist Sprain?
The symptoms will vary depending on where and how badly the wrist is sprained. Symptoms can include hearing or feeling a “pop” in the joint, inability to achieve the joint’s usual movement, the appearance of bruise marks and/or swelling, and pain.
Treatment Options for Sprained Wrists
There is a range of treatments for wrist sprains, starting with physical therapy to regain normal movement and flexibility. For injuries that don’t respond to therapy, there is the possibility of wrist joint replacement. This is like a hip or knee replacement, but usually the patient goes home the same day.
Doctors might otherwise suggest surgical fusion in the case of a severely painful injury. In this type of surgery, the joint of the wrist is removed and the bone of the forearm is fused to the smaller bones of the wrist by means of a metal plate. This procedure might mean restricted movement in the wrist, but it would very much reduce chronic pain from the sprain.
If the damage to the ligaments isn’t discovered until weeks after the injury, doctors might insert metal pins in the wrist to keep the bones together until the ligaments heal. This is known as percutaneous pinning and is done without an incision. If the bones can’t be lined up, however, doctors would make an incision.
If the damage to the ligaments isn’t discovered for months after the sprain, reconstruction of the ligament might be necessary. Surgeons make a small incision to find the damaged ligament and then graft a tendon on to replace that ligament. The graft is taken from the same wrist. Metal pins are used to hold the graft in place.
Effective Ways to Prevent Sprain Injuries
Sprain injuries are painful and can slow us down from our usual activities, but there are ways to reduce the risk of a sprain:
- Warm-Up: Before undertaking any physical activity—like your normal day’s work—or exercise, please warm up your muscles and joints. Stretching the wrist gently can help prevent injury.
- Correct Technique: Be careful to use the proper technique for your wrist when doing sports or the physical activities of your job.
- Strength and Flexibility: Building strength and flexibility in your joints can make them more resilient to injury.
- Gradual Progression: Don’t push yourself too hard when increasing the intensity of physical activities.
- Protective Gear: Wearing a wrist brace or tape can help support your ankles and reduce the risk of sprains.
- Stay Hydrated: Proper hydration is essential for tendons, ligaments, and muscle function.
- Listen to Your Body: Pay attention to any warning signs of fatigue, discomfort, or pain in your wrists. Stop and rest or get medical attention if necessary.
- Avoid Overuse: Repetitive motions and overuse of your wrists can lead to sprains and other injuries. Vary your routine to avoid excessive strain.
These preventive measures can reduce the risk of sprains, but accidents and injuries still happen. If you feel you’ve had a sprain in your wrist or suspect an injury, consult a healthcare professional for proper diagnosis and treatment. Keep a copy of the records and show them to an attorney.
Occupations Most Likely to Cause Wrist Injuries
Some occupations and professions have a higher risk of wrist sprains. Jobs that involve heavy lifting or the use of hand tools, like those of construction workers, carpenters, mechanics, and warehouse workers, tend to cause more wrist sprains.
People in offices who spend long hours typing or using a computer may develop wrist strain that leads to a sprain, or to conditions like carpal tunnel syndrome. Nurses and physical therapists often do work that involves repetitive wrist and hand movements, including lifting and transferring patients. Retail workers are susceptible because they may lift heavy merchandise and repetitively scan items at cash registers.
Factory workers doing assembly line work may perform repetitive hand and wrist movements. Cooks, chefs, and their kitchen staff my experience wrist sprains from chopping, slicing, and carrying heavy pots and pans.
Athletes in sports like gymnastics, tennis, and wrestling are at greater risk of wrist sprains. Delivery drivers are susceptible to due lifting heavy packages and repetitive use of steering wheels and handbrakes.
People who work in building maintenance, landscaping, and janitorial services who use tools, climb ladders, or perform repetitive cleaning or raking motions are at risk. Farm laborers and agricultural workers who plant, harvest, and operate machinery may be at risk because of repetitive and strenuous tasks.
The way that hairdressers and barbers make constant use of scissors, hairdryers, and other hairstyling tools can strain the wrist and lead to sprains over time. And one you may not have thought of: Musicians, especially those who play stringed instruments or percussion, can develop wrist problems from repetitive and, at times, strenuous use of the wrist while playing.
Who Could be Held Responsible for a Sprained Wrist in NJ?
Liability for a wrist sprain depends on the circumstances. If your wrist sprain happens at work, your employer and their workers’ compensation insurance may be liable. Employers are responsible for providing a safe workplace, but the specific circumstances of the injury would have to be considered.
If your wrist sprain happened on someone else’s property due to a hazardous condition, the owner or his tenant might be liable. Liability laws regarding premises require property owners to keep their properties safe for visitors.
A defective product or piece of equipment, like a faulty ladder or a malfunctioning wrist brace, can cause wrist sprains. In that case, you may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer and/or the distributor of the product.
Reckless driving or a physical altercation can cause injuries, and that person may be liable for it. In court, you would need to show, with the help of an attorney, that their actions were unreasonable or careless and that they directly caused your injury.
In sports or recreational activities, liability can be complex, and it can be limited if you signed a waiver before participating. It will depend on whether a judge thinks the risks were normal or if he thinks someone was reckless or intentionally hurt you.
If a healthcare professional’s negligence, misdiagnosis, or improper treatment caused your wrist sprain or worsened it, you may be able to win a medical malpractice claim.
And lastly, if you were intentionally injured in an assault or battery attack, the person responsible may be held liable. In these types of cases, you would pursue a personal injury lawsuit—with the help of an attorney.
Process to Verify That a Wrist Sprain Happened in the Workplace
You must report the injury immediately to your supervisor, manager, or HR department. Make sure your report is documented in writing. Keep a copy safely stowed away. Follow your employer’s guidelines and protocols for reporting the injury and comply with their requirements.
Visit a doctor immediately for an examination and diagnosis of your wrist injury. Be sure to explain to the medical professional how the injury occurred and that it happened at work.
Keep a copy of that doctor’s records, and write down a detailed record of the injury, including the date, time, location, and circumstances surrounding the incident. If there were any witnesses, get their contact information. Also keep a pain journal of what you experienced daily. Take photographs of the accident scene or of the defective equipment that caused your injury. All these records are very valuable in proving your case in court.
Difference Between an Injured Worker and a Sprained Wrist from an Accident
In New Jersey, a wrist injury will lead to different types of claims and compensation depending on the circumstances.
For injured workers (i.e., workers’ compensation):
Injured employees in New Jersey are generally eligible for workers’ compensation benefits. Benefits include coverage for medical expenses, replacement of lost wages, and cost of rehabilitation.
The term “medical expenses” includes doctor’s visits, hospitalization, surgery, and medications. Again, keep careful records of all these expenses.
If an injury keeps an employee out of work for more than seven days, they may be eligible for a temporary disability benefit, which is compensation for some of their lost wages. If the impairment or disability is permanent, the worker may receive permanent disability benefits, and These will be based on the extent of the disability.
If an employee can no longer perform their previous job due to the injury, vocational rehabilitation services may be provided to help the worker gain new job skills or find alternative employment.
For individuals injured in accidents outside of work (i.e., personal injury claims):
People injured in accidents outside of work can pursue a personal injury claim against the at-fault parties. In this claim, the injured person may seek compensation for various damages, including medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, emotional distress, and property damage.
In certain cases where the at-fault party’s actions were particularly egregious or intentional, the injured party may seek punitive damages, which are intended to punish the wrongdoer and deter him or her from similar behavior in the future.
Sometimes injured individuals may have the option to pursue a third-party liability claim if someone other than their employer is responsible for their work-related injury. For example, a defective product or a negligent subcontractor might have caused the injury. In that case, a third-party claim may be possible in addition to workers’ compensation.
New Jersey operates under a no-fault auto insurance system, which means that individuals injured in car accidents can use their own auto insurance policy for medical expense coverage, regardless of fault. However, they can still pursue personal injury claims against at-fault drivers for pain and suffering if their injuries meet certain thresholds.
Allow Our Team of New Jersey Sprain Injury Lawyers to Handle Your Claim for a Sprained Wrist in Mercer County, Middlesex County, Burlington County, and across NJ
If you’ve endured the pain and suffering of a wrist sprain, either on the job or in a scenario where you suspect someone else is liable, call the diligent personal injury attorneys at Cohen & Riechelson. We can look at the evidence you’ve gathered and gather more evidence for you, perhaps by interviewing witnesses. We can advise you on whether or not you have a claim that will work. We’ll help you in the process of trying to reach a settlement with your employer, the owner of a premises, or his tenant—whoever was negligent. If a fair settlement can’t be reached, we can guide you through the judicial process. We will zealously work for the compensation you deserve in Princeton, Hamilton, Trenton, Pennington, Mount Laurel, Lambertville, or elsewhere in Mercer County, Middlesex County, Burlington County, and throughout New Jersey.
Your chances of getting a better settlement or favorable court decision can be improved with sound legal representation. Start the process of a personal injury or workers’ compensation claim today by letting us help you. Call (609) 528-2596 today for a free consultation.